Dear Commons Community,
Yesterday the first public hearings on impeaching President Trump were held before the House Judiciary Committee. Four law professors gave their opinions as to whether Trump’s activities in the Ukraine amounted to impeachable offenses. Three were quite clear that his activities did and the fourth felt the Committee was moving too quickly. While the hearing was going on, Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, was in Europe interviewing several former Ukrainian prosecutors for a conservative documentary series aimed at undermining the House’s impeachment inquiry. The New York Times reported yesterday Giuliani was joined by a crew from conservative cable channel One America News, met with Yuriy Lutsenko, a key figure in the inquiry, in Budapest, Hungary. He then traveled to Kyiv to meet with several other former Ukrainian prosecutors, including Viktor Shokin and Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, the Times reported, citing people familiar with the trip.
I don’t know who advises Giuliani but this did not look good. He is currently facing scrutiny from impeachment investigators and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York for his dealings with Ukraine. He has been viewed as a central architect of the Trump administration’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into producing damaging information about former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival of the president.
Those efforts led to a whistleblower complaint that prompted the House’s impeachment inquiry.
Giuliani on Wednesday told the Times he saw nothing wrong in his visits with former Ukrainian officials this week, even amid the scrutiny.
“If S.D.N.Y. (Southern District of New York) leaks and Democrats’ threats stopped me, then I should find a new profession,” he said. “Like a good lawyer, I am gathering evidence to defend my client against the false charges being leveled against him.”
Federal prosecutors are investigating Giuliani in connection with two of his now-indicted business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, regarding their activities in Ukraine. Subpoenas issued to those connected to the three indicate a widespread investigation into Giuliani’s consulting work.
Multiple witnesses in the House’s inquiry have also testified that Giuliani directed a shadow U.S. diplomacy in Ukraine in an effort to pressure the country to publicly announce investigations desired by Trump. Gordon Sondland, a Republican donor whom Trump appointed U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testified to House investigators that the president gave him “express direction” to work with Giuliani on pressuring Ukraine to conduct investigations.