Saturday, October 12, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He defended Rudy Giuliani—to a point.

Trump's new "fixer," Rudy Giuliani, is reportedly under federal investigation related to his involvement in Trump's attempt to gin up a fake Ukrainian "investigation" of his political rival Joe Biden. The news broke yesterday, just two days after Giuliani's associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested on charges related to their attempts to illegally funnel Ukrainian money to American political campaigns. 

Parnas and Fruman had lunch with Giuliani the day before their arrest, and were traveling on one-way tickets to Europe, where Giuliani had been scheduled to meet them. The two have long-standing ties to Trump, as well.

Whether Giuliani is Trump's actual lawyer is a matter of some debate. Trump himself was very reluctant yesterday to call Giuliani his lawyer. When asked, he said, "I don't know. I haven't spoken to Rudy," before correcting himself: "I spoke to him yesterday, briefly." Trump then added, equivocally, "He's a very good lawyer and he has been my lawyer, sure." Today, after leaving Giuliani's status up in the air for more than 24 hours, Trump confirmed that Giuliani is his lawyer. 

Trump has good reason to hesitate. No attorney-client privilege applies to illegal acts that the "lawyer" is party to, which means that Giuliani could testify against Trump about his Ukrainian activities, either in a court or an impeachment proceeding. But insulting Giuliani, whose temper and emotional stability are much like Trump's, could be equally disastrous.

That is presumably why Trump tweeted out his support this morning, blaming the "Deep State" for Giuliani's problems. 

The investigation into Giuliani is reportedly being done through the Southern District of New York office, whose leadership is, like all United States Attorney's offices, made up of Trump appointees.

Why should I care about this?

  • The president doesn't just get to declare his friends and/or criminal co-conspirators innocent of any crimes.
  • The reason it's important to remove presidents who are mixed up in criminal activity is that they are easily blackmailed.