Reports that President Donald Trump brazenly and repeatedly pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to cooperate with Rudy Giuliani in investigating Hunter Biden have led even the more moderate legal experts to suggest that impeachment may be necessary. As the sordid details of Giuliani’s role in the alleged disinformation plot continue to mount, the backlash against the president’s personal lawyer has intensified, with at least one former federal prosecutor calling for him to be disbarred and another suggesting he may have opened himself up to criminally liability.
Giuliani defended himself and Trump on Saturday, claiming that his conduct with regard to the Biden’s and Ukraine was completely legal.
“Whistleblower story, like [Brett] Kavanaugh story, is blowing up,” he tweeted, comparing the situation to the recent allegations against the Supreme Court justice. “Now no mention of money or quid pro quo. So appropriate conduct. Now we must look at Biden Family pattern of corruption of selling his public offices for 5 decades. Pattern of corruption enabled by Swamp.”
But while the president did not directly threaten to withhold U.S. funds from Ukraine absent cooperation, the administration did put a hold on $250 million in military assistance for the country after Trump personally ordered a review of the aid package.
Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor with the Southern District of New York, responded to Giuliani by comparing him to a mafia underling following the orders of a crime boss.
“This how mafia bosses work. They make the ‘request’ & soldiers & capos (Rudy Giuliani) follow up with the demand,” she tweeted, before calling for the former New York City mayor to face more tangible consequences.
“Why is this man still a member of the NY a bar? He should not be. He is free as a [United States] citizen to make up stuff but not as member of the bar,” she wrote.
Rocah’s take on Giuliani was echoed by former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, who categorized the ordeal as an affront to the office of the president.
“Giuliani falsely claims it’s ‘appropriate’ for the President to bully a foreign country into investigating his political rival,” he wrote, adding, “The problem with Trump’s conduct isn’t a quid pro quo. It’s the abuse of presidential power to get aid from a foreign nation in an election.”
University of Michigan law professor Barb McQuade went ever further, suggesting that Giuliani could face criminal charges for his conduct.
“While a sitting President cannot be indicted, Giuliani can,” the former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan wrote Saturday morning. “More facts are needed, but if he brokered deal to trade dirt on Biden for foreign aid, he could be guilty of conspiracy to commit bribery. Trump would return to his familiar role as Individual 1.”
[image via DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images]