The Slatest

This Week in Rudy: A Lot of People Seemed to Accuse Him of Crimes

Rudy Giuliani.
Rudy Giuliani on Mornings With Maria on Sept. 23.
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

It’s been a week for President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The former New York mayor–turned–Trump attack dog has found himself the star of the unfolding Ukraine scandal, and even though he has been relatively quiet this week, other players in the impeachment investigation keep launching him back into the headlines. Each week of this scandal has been action-packed, but it’s possible that this week might be the most relentless for Rudy. For those who would like a refresher on this convoluted, character-packed story, here’s what you missed.

Monday

Fiona Hill, Trump’s former senior adviser on Russia and Europe, kicked off the week by undermining Giuliani’s Monday morning Twitter boast that he helped to disassociate Italian Americans from organized crime. Hill testified that John Bolton, then Trump’s national security adviser, was so alarmed by the push by Giuliani (as well as acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland) to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens that Bolton asked Hill to alert the National Security Council’s chief lawyer to the shenanigans. Bolton also reportedly told Hill that “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.” This testimony didn’t help Giuliani’s claim that everything he did was legitimate and done with everyone’s blessing or that he was a rational human capable of making good decisions.

The Wall Street Journal reported later in the day that investigators had been looking into Giuliani’s financial records—including those related to his work in Ukraine—since at least August. The next day, USA Today reported that the investigation also involves agents examining counterintelligence concerns from Giuliani’s business ties with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Soviet-born associates who helped Giuliani pressure Ukraine and who were arrested last week at a Washington-area airport with one-way tickets.

Tuesday

The big news to start Tuesday was Giuliani’s announcement that he would not hand over documents to the House Intelligence Committee for its impeachment inquiry in defiance of a congressional subpoena. In his letter, Giuliani’s lawyer called the request “beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry,” and said it violated both attorney-client privilege and executive privilege. Giuliani himself tweeted that the inquiry was “illegitimate, unconstitutional, and baseless.”

He also parted with his lawyer (the one who had just sent the letter) for unclear reasons. He confirmed via text to Bloomberg that “no one” was representing him.

The next news to break resurfaced another foreign lobbying effort by Giuliani over a different scandal-ridden client. New York prosecutors announced charges against Halkbank, a state-run Turkish bank that it said violated U.S. sanctions against Iran. Bank executives, Turkish government officials, and a Turkish-Iranian gold trader named Reza Zarrab had conspired in the money-laundering scheme, prosecutors said. Zarrab, who was arrested in 2016 over the scheme, was a client of Giuliani’s. According to Bloomberg, Giuliani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had pushed to have the U.S. drop the case against Zarrab. Trump then reportedly asked then–Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to have the Justice Department drop charges against Zarrab—a request Tillerson refused. (Zarrab pleaded guilty and later testified against Halkbank’s CEO.) This would not be the first time Giuliani would reportedly push for Trump to do something that Erdogan also really wanted.

Phew. OK. We’re halfway through Tuesday. Next: The Wall Street Journal reported that former Rep. Pete Sessions had received a grand jury subpoena from Manhattan federal prosecutors for its investigation into Giuliani. The subpoena requested any correspondence Sessions had with Giuliani, Parnas, and Fruman. After one known meeting, according to Parnas’ and Fruman’s indictments, Sessions asked the State Department to dismiss Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine who reportedly resisted the efforts to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Parnas and Fruman also committed to raising $20,000 or more for Sessions. Technically, this is only bad news for Giuliani if he discussed (or left clues from) doing crimes with his buddy Pete.

Next: Giuliani’s beloved Yankees lost Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros.

Rounding out the day, the Washington Post reported that Giuliani lobbied Trump to extradite the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen—something Erdogan desperately wants. (Turkey wants Gülen to stand trial on charges of plotting a coup attempt against Erdogan in 2016.) Others in the White House balked, but Trump reportedly warmed to the idea, calling Erdogan “my friend” and asking why they couldn’t extradite Gülen. If you’re keeping track, this is now the second time Giuliani—not a government official—has pushed for a foreign policy seemingly on Erdogan’s behalf. Some White House aides suspected that Giuliani was actually acting on behalf of the Turkish government, the Post reported. When asked about the story, Giuliani said it “sounds wacky” and refused to comment further. He later denied that he pushed for the extradition.

Wednesday

Another person connected to Giuliani’s business associates was arrested Wednesday morning, charged with participating in a scheme to use foreign money to build political support for a marijuana business. The defendant, David Correia, had been out of the country and missed the first round of arrests in the larger case, which swept up Parnas, Fruman, and a man named Andrey Kukushkin. Correia and Kukushkin pleaded not guilty to the charges on Thursday.

A slightly lighter news day for Giuliani, the lawyer was only buffeted by one more development. Energy Secretary Rick Perry reinforced the narrative about Giuliani’s central role in the Ukraine scandal when he said he had contacted Giuliani to help connect Trump with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Wall Street Journal reported. Perry also said he had reached out to Giuliani at Trump’s direction and that Giuliani had discussed Trump’s concerns about alleged corruption in Ukraine.

Thursday

This was a big day for testimony and a bad day for Giuliani. Sondland, the EU ambassador, really energized the blame game during his time before House investigators when he portrayed himself as a disapproving State Department official acting only out of duty to the president. He testified that he was “disappointed” Trump directed him to work with Giuliani regarding U.S. policy toward Ukraine. “Please know that I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters,” he said. “However, given the president’s explicit direction, as well as the importance we attached to arranging a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, we agreed to do as President Trump directed.”

Sondland also claimed that he hadn’t known Giuliani’s true goal of “involv[ing] Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 reelection campaign.” He also said he hadn’t known when talking about investigating Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings that Hunter Biden was on its board. This was quite bad for Rudy!

Mulvaney didn’t testify on Thursday, but he did talk to reporters at a truly wild press conference. He first admitted that Trump had withheld military aid to Ukraine to get it to investigate “what happened in 2016”—a reference to the debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the Democrats’ emails in the run-up to the election. Trump has repeatedly pushed this theory—as has Giuliani. Possibly worse, when a reporter told Mulvaney that this was a “quid pro quo,” Mulvaney responded, “We do that all the time.” Yikes!

One more: The Yankees lost Game 4 to the Astros. The Astros now lead 3–1.

Friday

It was almost a quiet day for Rudy. First, he told BuzzFeed News that he was not worried about being manipulated by the Turks and that he was a victim of an organized effort by the media and others to discredit him.

But then Bloomberg reported that associates of Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, who has been fighting extradition to the U.S. since 2014, had worked to dig up dirt on the Bidens last summer. Firtash’s legal team included pro-Trump husband and wife duo Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing. Fox News reported last month that the pair had worked with Giuliani to research the Bidens. The story had been slowly building, but Bloomberg’s report finally proposed a concrete set of motivations and relationships: diGenova and Toensing were trying to dig up dirt on the Bidens—using the oligarch’s vast network—in order to get Giuliani to help them in Firtash’s legal case. Firtash’s actions could be interpreted as a foreign contribution to Donald Trump’s campaign—something not allowed by campaign finance laws.

And it appears that something did come from the duo’s efforts. Viktor Shokin, a former Ukrainian prosecutor general, gave Firtash’s people a witness statement from September that Giuliani has used to bolster his claim that Joe Biden tried to influence Ukrainian politics to help Hunter Biden. (U.S. and Ukrainian officials have disputed Shokin’s statement.)

Firtash denied having contact with Giuliani, and Giuliani said he had “nothing to do with Firtash” and that he “never met him.”

And finally, the Yankees play Game 5 against the Astros on Friday night. If they lose, they fall short of going to the World Series. That would seem like a fitting bookend to Giuliani’s week.

Correction, Oct. 18, 2019, at 8:40 p.m. This post originally said the Yankees played Game 4 on Wednesday. Game 4 was rained out Wednesday and played instead on Thursday.