Last May, Rudy Giuliani threw a very public temper tantrum when he was pressured into canceling a trip to Ukraine, where he was planning to urge the incoming government to investigate Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.
At the time, the Mueller Report was hot off the presses and much of America was focused on Russia’s attempts to swing the 2016 election in Donald Trump’s favor. Even Giuliani could see that the timing was not right for his efforts to push Ukraine into helping Trump in 2020. But now it is.
The New York Times reports that Giuliani, who is still serving as Trump’s personal lawyer, has “renewed his push for the Ukrainian government to pursue investigations into political opponents of Mr. Trump.”
The former New York City mayor has recently had conversations, over the phone and in person, with representatives of Volodymyr Zelensky, the newly elected president of Ukraine who ran on an anti-corruption message. His goal is to ensure Zelenky’s administration probes two issues that could benefit Trump’s chances to serve another term.
The first issue is the Ukrainian government’s efforts to help Clinton in 2016. A Politico article from early 2017 sums up the allegations:
Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.
The second, and more relevant issue, is a spurious claim of corruption involving the 2020 Democratic front-runner. The allegation concerns Biden’s efforts as vice-president to push out Ukraine’s top prosecutor, who was at the same time probing a Ukrainian energy company that employed Biden’s son, Hunter.
The theory has been thoroughly debunked, but Giuliani and Trump see an opportunity to drag Biden through the mud with Ukraine’s help. But the risk of that strategy is that they’re opening Trump up to the same type of criticism he’s heard about Russia for the last three years.
Back in May, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff said Giuliani’s efforts were breathtaking. “I give Giuliani credit for consistency,” said Schiff. “He said just a few weeks that there’s nothing wrong with seeking help from a foreign power … The fact that he would be so open about it, boastful almost, doing it with the knowledge and support of the president — it takes your breath away.”
But Giuliani insists that he’s not doing anything improper. As he told the Times, he’s merely urging Ukraine to “do the right thing.”