the national interest

Trump Calls Giuliani, Who Partnered With Hostile Russian Agent, a ‘Great Patriot’

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

If you have been following Rudy Giuliani’s legal saga, the only surprising thing about the raid by federal agents on his home yesterday was that it took this long for it to happen. His supporters have instead constructed a defense built on the premise that Giuliani is categorically pure as the driven snow.

“If this can happen to the president’s lawyer, this can happen to any one of us,” warned Giuliani’s son, Andrew. The premise of that statement is that a president’s lawyer is categorically one of the most law-abiding citizens, and therefore his targeting implies nobody can be safe.

However, when the president in question is Donald Trump, the odds change quite a bit. Trump has surrounded himself with criminals throughout his career, and in fact two of his former attorneys were either charged with (Roy Cohn) or convicted of (Michael Cohen) felonies. Statistically speaking, the odds that any given associate of Donald Trump’s might be charged with crimes are quite high. Andrew Giuliani’s statement is a bit like reacting to a mob bust by warning, “If this can happen to a capo in the Lucchesse family, this can happen to any of us!”

Trump himself offered up an even stranger defense. “Rudy Giuliani is a great patriot. He does these things — he just loves this country, and they raid his apartment,” he told Maria Bartiromo. “It’s, like, so unfair.”

Whether or not Giuliani violated the law remains to be seen. But the idea that his actions were patriotic is absurd.

The Department of Justice has been investigating Giuliani since 2019. (Giuliani’s lawyer attributes yesterday’s development to political influence by Joe Biden, but the probe began under the Trump administration.) That year, two of Giuliani’s partners, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested at an airport.

Fruman and Parnas were helping Giuliani pressure the Ukrainian government to help Trump’s reelection campaign. As part of those dealings, they were trying to score some business for themselves. The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal all reported that investigators have looked into evidence Giuliani negotiated deals with Ukraine that would benefit himself. One of those reported deals involved getting a piece of the country’s energy business. Another involved signing up Giuliani to represent Ukraine’s top prosecutor.

It needs to be emphasized that, whatever laws may or may not have been broken, there is no possible version of any of these deals that is remotely ethical. Giuliani was acting as Trump’s agent in Ukraine. Ukrainians knew perfectly well that their relationship with the U.S. government required making Giuliani happy. Giuliani could not negotiate an arms-length deal with a country that was desperate to placate him. Any personal side business negotiation he entered was inherently extortive.

Those deals have merely been reported. What has been confirmed publicly is that Giuliani was working hand in hand with known Russian agent Andriy Derkach. Their partnership is not an allegation. Giuliani was posting videos of them on his website. Derkach was sanctioned last year by the U.S. Government. “Andrii Derkach and other Russian agents employ manipulation and deceit to attempt to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere around the world,” said Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

What would a patriot do? Probably not form a partnership with a Russian agent trying to undermine American elections.

Since Giuliani hasn’t (yet) been charged with any crimes, Trump could have offered up any defense he wanted. He chose to focus on his lawyer’s alleged patriotism. Almost as if he has some idea what exact charges might be coming down the pike.

Trump Calls Rudy Giuliani a ‘Great Patriot’