We've known for some time now that Rudy Giuliani was most likely under investigation for criminal wrongdoing involving his role in Trump's Ukraine bribery and extortion scandal, now we know he definitely is under investigation.
Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, is being investigated by federal prosecutors for possible campaign finance violations and a failure to register as a foreign agent as part of an active investigation into his financial dealings, according to three U.S. officials.
The probe of Giuliani, which one official said could also include possible charges on violating laws against bribing foreign officials or conspiracy, presents a serious threat to Trump’s presidency from a man that former national security adviser John Bolton has called a “hand grenade.”
A second official said Giuliani’s activities raise counterintelligence concerns as well, although there probably wouldn’t be a criminal charge related to that. The officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, provided the first indication of the potential charges under investigation.
Giuliani is a central figure in the U.S. House impeachment inquiry, which focuses on an effort led by the former New York City mayor to pressure Ukraine’s government to investigate the president’s political rivals. If Giuliani is charged or indicted, he could expose Trump to a new level of legal and political jeopardy, especially if he’s accused of committing a crime on the president’s behalf.
“I would not be surprised if he gets indicted,” said Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. “It’s clear Giuliani is up to his ears in shady stuff and there’s tons of smoke.”
Witnesses in the impeachment inquiry have described how Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting for the country’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to force him to investigate a company connected to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Biden is a Democratic frontrunner to challenge Trump in 2020.
Democrats have called Trump activities with Giuliani’s assistance as a potential abuse of presidential power, while some Republicans have argued that Trump’s conduct doesn’t merit his removal from office.
Giuliani is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which he once led. The office began to scrutinize his activities in Ukraine as prosecutors investigated two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The two were subsequently charged in the U.S. with illegally funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to U.S. officials and a political action committee that backed Trump.
Parnas and Fruman were working for Giuliani on matters related to Trump. It’s not clear, however, whether the investigation of Giuliani is focusing on the work he did for the president.
Giuliani, his lawyers and the White House didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Two observations: first, so far, not even Bill Barr has been able to make this investigation disappear. A trial set for next year would be devastating for anyone related to the Trump regime and everyone knows it.
Second, the case against Giuliani must be devastating. We know Lev Parnas, one of the two Ukranian associates of his, is now cooperating and says Trump contacted him last year about Ukraine and how Ambassador Marie Yovanovich had to be fired. Things are moving quickly here on this front.
The April 2018 dinner was designed to be an intimate affair, an opportunity for a handful of big donors to a super PAC allied with President Trump to personally interact with the president and his eldest son.
In an exclusive suite known as the Trump Townhouse at Trump’s Washington hotel, the group — including Jack Nicklaus III, the grandson of the famous golfer, and a New York developer — snapped photos, dined and chatted about their pet issues with the president for about 90 minutes.
Among those in attendance were two Florida business executives who had little history with Republican politics but had snagged a spot at the dinner with the promise of a major contribution to the America First super PAC. They turned the conversation to Ukraine, according to people familiar with the event, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private dinner.
One of the men, Lev Parnas, has described to associates that he and his business partner, Igor Fruman, told Trump at the dinner that they thought the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was unfriendly to the president and his interests.
According to Parnas, the president reacted strongly to the news: Trump immediately suggested that then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who had been in the Foreign Service for 32 years and served under Democratic and Republican presidents, should be fired, people familiar with his account said.
Parnas declined to comment. Todd Blanche, a lawyer for Fruman, declined to comment.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Parnas’s account of personally discussing Ukraine with Trump more than 18 months ago suggests that he and Fruman had more personal interaction with the president — and potentially more influence over his views on that country — than the White House has acknowledged.
The Rudy factor is about to explode this wide open.