After months of insisting he was working at the behest of the State Department, Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday evening unequivocally stated that his work in Ukraine was performed in his capacity as a President Donald Trump’s private attorney, an admission legal commentators say may have serious repercussions for both Giuliani and the White House.
“With all the Fake News let me make it clear that everything I did was to discover evidence to defend my client against false charges. [Democrats] would be horrified by the attacks on me, if my client was a terrorist. But they don’t believe [President Donald Trump] has rights,” Giuliani tweeted.
The shocking and likely inculpatory acknowledgement comes at a perilous time for Giuliani, who is a central figure in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and the subject of federal investigation in the Southern District of New York.
Georgetown University Law Center Professor Marty Lederman, an expert in constitutional law and national security law, explained the significance of Giuliani conceding that he was working for the benefit of President Trump personally and not the United States.
“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 – 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.),” wrote Lederman, a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. “This is the highest of high crimes–using the leverage of his position as chief diplomat to advance his own interests—and it’s hard to imagine anything more inconsistent w/Trump’s constitutional oath & duty and more revealing of his utter unfitness for office. And that’d be true *even if there were no quid pro quo* (but of course there was, which makes it all the worse).”
Attorney George Conway, Trump nemesis and husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, appeared astonished that Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, would so haphazardly implicate himself and President Trump in impeachable and possibly criminal conduct.
“Wow. 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,” Conway tweeted.
“Apart from being terrific evidence that his client committed an impeachable offense, this tweet is a fine illustration of why criminal defense lawyers tell their clients to shut up and take the Fifth,” he continued.
CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor Elie Honig similarly described the comment as exceptionally detrimental to Giuliani and the Trump administration.
“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,” Honig remarked.
[Image via Fox News screengrab]