Lawyers: Rudy Giuliani Tweet on Ukraine Amounts to the ‘Smokingest of Guns,’ a ‘Confession’

Rudy Giuliani, just before announcing the hiring of criminal defense attorneys on Wednesday, once again admitted on Twitter that the “investigation” he conducted with regard to Ukraine was done in the interests of his client, President Donald Trump.

“The investigation I conducted concerning 2016 Ukrainian collusion and corruption, was done solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges, that kept changing as one after another were disproven,” Giuliani said.

The immediate reaction to the Giuliani statement was that it completely undercuts the defense that what Trump demanded of Ukraine — investigations of the Bidens and of the CrowdStrike conspiracy theory — was done in the interests of the United States. Instead, Giuliani said the role he played in this was done “solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges.”

Daily Trump nemesis attorney George Conway said Giuliani “seemingly believes that his best defense is that he was merely defending his client’s personal interests by acting as a defense lawyer.”

“That’s devastatingly incriminating for Trump, in terms of both impeachment and the criminal law,” he added.

“This tweet by itself establishes that @realDonaldTrump committed an impeachable offense. To say that Giuliani’s and Trump’s pursuit of ‘Ukrainian …  corruption’ was ‘done solely’ to protect Trump’s interests establishes that Trump was not acting for the country,” Conway tweeted separately on the subject.

Fordham Law Prof. Jed Shugerman, who teaches constitutional law, said Giuliani “confessed that Trump violated his constitutional duty” — “A high misdemeanor.”

Georgetown University Law Center Professor Marty Lederman, an expert in constitutional law and national security law, summed up Giuliani’s tweet as admitting to the “United States quid for *personal* quo.”

“The smokingest of guns: The POTUS’s own agent publicly confirming that the national quid was conditioned on a *personal* quo,” Lederman said.

UC Berkeley Law Prof. Orin Kerr streamlined the meaning of Giuliani’s tweet.

“Shorter Rudy: I was directed by the President to conduct foreign policy to further his personal interests, not to serve the American people,” Kerr commented.

Harvard Law Prof. Laurence Tribe, another constitutional law expert and another known Trump critic, said Giuliani had made “nothing less than a confession that president @realDonaldTrump was shaking down Ukraine President Zelenskiy not for the nation’s benefit but for the political benefit of Donald J. Trump as Rudy’s private client.”

Former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers responded that “multiple laws” have been violated and that Giuliani should probably zip it.

Other attorneys asked and answered questions about what Giuliani might be hoping to accomplish by saying this.

It was not the first time that Giuliani put forth this defense and elicited responses like these.

“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 before.

Giuliani’s plans to push Ukraine to pursue investigations of the Bidens and CrowdStrike have been out in the open and on the record for some time now. Giuliani in May confirmed to the New York Times that what he was up to “isn’t foreign policy” and was primarily to help Trump:

“We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Mr. Giuliani said in an interview on Thursday when asked about the parallel to the special counsel’s inquiry.

“There’s nothing illegal about it,” he said. “Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

Giuliani, U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland testified, was the “key to changing Trump’s mind on Ukraine.” Sondland, a Trump appointee, also said there was a conversation with Ukraine about withheld military aid on Sept. 1. That the aid was held up was reported for the first time on Aug. 28/29.

Sondland said that an aide for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was told that the release of the aid likely wasn’t going to happen unless the embattled nation announced that it was launching investigations into Burisma, the natural gas company where Joe Biden‘s son Hunter Biden was a board member, and CrowdStrike:

Also, I now do recall a conversation on September 1, 2019, in Warsaw with [Zelensky aide] Mr. [Andriy] Yermak. This brief pull-aside conversation followed the larger meeting involving Vice President [Mike] Pence and President Zelensky, in which President Zelensky had raised the issue of the suspension of U.S. aid to Ukraine directly with Vice President Pence. After that large meeting, I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks. I also recall some question as to whether the public statement could come from the newly appointed Ukrainian Prosecutor General, rather than from President Zelensky directly.

The White House holding up congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine to achieve this goal is the “United States quid for *personal* quo” referred to above. The aid was released on Sept. 11 as the affair started unraveling.

[Image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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