'The highest of high crimes': Rudy Giuliani accidentally blows up Trump's defense against impeachment on Twitter
Rudy Giuliani has been conspicuously absent from Twitter and TV in recent days as the legal and political crises engulfing him and his most high-profile client, President Donald Trump, have become increasingly dire.
But on Wednesday night, he returned to Twitter with a bang. He tried to defend his role in the Ukraine scandal, which has been called a "shadow foreign policy" and an "irregular, informal channel":
With all the Fake News let me make it clear that everything I did was to discover evidence to defend my client agai… https://t.co/yVJzk9yEKR— Rudy W. Giuliani (@Rudy W. Giuliani)1571877890.0
Far from exculpatory, these claims are explosive.
As I noted on Twitter, Giuliani is contradicting himself here. He has previously described his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, the DNC, and the 2016 campaign as unrelated to his legal work. “I’m not acting as a lawyer,” Giuliani told The Atlantic last month of his activities in Ukraine. “I’m acting as someone who has devoted most of his life to straightening out government.”
But while Giuliani's new version of events may help him if he wants to make a claim of attorney-client privilege, it actually makes Trump's role in the scheme look even more damning than it already is. Legal experts argued that it only strengthened the case for impeachment.
"This merely confirms what was so outrageous: Giuliani wasn't a representative or employee of the United States; his duty of loyalty was 100% to his (personal capacity) client. And yet Trump told Ukraine it had to dance to Rudy's tune," said Marty Lederman, a law professor at Georgetown University Law Professor. "[A] a tune *designed to advance Trump's personal interests*--in order to remain in the U.S.'s good graces (e.g., to secure access, aid, etc.). This is the highest of high crimes--using the leverage of his position as chief diplomat to advance his own interests."
3/ ... it's hard to imagine anything more inconsistent w/Trump's constitutional oath & duty and more revealing of h… https://t.co/20fLTpYJby— Marty Lederman (@Marty Lederman)1571878496.0
Other legal experts agreed.
"Wow," said conservative lawyer George Conway. "This tweet is powerful evidence of an impeachable offense—that [Trump's] dealings with the Government of Ukraine were for his own personal benefit, and not for the nation’s. Keep tweeting and talking, [Rudy.]"
CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig concurred, tweeting to Giuliani: "You just admitted you acted solely ('everything I did') in the personal and political interests of Donald Trump when dealing with Ukraine, not the national interests of the United States. Lawyer up - for your client’s sake, if not for your own."
Indeed, the huge mountain of evidence gathered in the impeachment probe has conclusively shown that Giuliani was playing a central role in U.S. foreign policy with Ukraine. He was working with and directing the negotiations of State Department diplomats. This isn't even controversial — no Republicans have denied that Giuliani carried out this role.
It's bad enough to have a rogue agent not officially aligned with the U.S. government mucking around in foreign policy. But if, as Giuliani now claimed, he was working specifically to promote the interests of the president as his client, that means Trump was employing State Department officials to do the work of his personal legal defense.
Add it to the list of impeachable offenses.