Do we really have to let this play out over the course of weeks or months? It’s perfectly foreseeable where it’s going. The writers of our “President Trump” reality show are endlessly entertaining but sometimes they telegraph their plot arcs.
Rudy Giuliani’s financial dealings with two associates indicted on campaign finance-related charges are under scrutiny by investigators overseeing the case, law enforcement officials briefed on the matter said.
— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) October 10, 2019
The two associates are Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, whom you’ve hopefully read about already today in Ed’s post earlier. They’d also been helping Rudy with his work in Ukraine trying to drum up a new investigation into the Bidens and Burisma. They were pinched last night by the FBI for alleged campaign-finance crimes involving big-money donations to politicians as they were about to board a flight to Vienna. House Democrats want to talk to them; Parnas and Fruman tried to prevent that by taking a little vacation but were headed off at the pass. Now Giuliani’s being scrutinized by his old friends in the Southern District of New York, with his two associates suddenly subject to very strong incentives to roll over on him and report any criminal activity by Rudy that they might know of.
And, once under indictment, Rudy would of course has his own very strong incentives to roll over on even more important people whose criminal activities he might have personal knowledge of.
Smash cut to the White House today:
Asked about two men with ties to Rudy Giuliani arrested earlier today, Pres. Trump says, "I don't know those gentlemen. Now, it's possible I have a picture with them, because I have a picture with everybody."
"Maybe they were clients of Rudy," he adds. "You'd have to ask Rudy." pic.twitter.com/EzCIEA6QMz
— ABC News (@ABC) October 10, 2019
Asked whether he thought his personal attorney would be indicted, the president replied, “I hope not.” Hoo boy.
There are indeed pictures of Trump with Parnas and Fruman, and he’s had dinner with Parnas at least once. So imagine that Rudy’s indicted too and he suddenly remembers that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former right-hand man on the 2016 campaign, continues to rot in federal prison to this day. Is Giuliani going to sit by piling up legal fees waiting for a pardon that might never come? Or will he make a deal?
By the same token, is Trump going to let Rudy sweat it out as the idea of a deal slowly grows more appealing to him? Or will a pardon come quickly to keep Giuliani firmly on Team Trump?
If and when it does, that’ll be an insta-impeachment for House Democrats. Yes, granted, the president has plenary power to pardon, but it’s also the House’s prerogative to decide whether abuse of a presidential power is impeachable. Handing your crony a get-out-of-jail-free card because you’re afraid he might rat you out will suffice for Pelosi, Nadler, and Schiff to move forward. So, like I say, can’t we just cut to that scene?
By the way, Parnas and Fruman were in contact with Rudy as recently as yesterday, when they met him for lunch at — where else? — Trump’s hotel in Washington. They were picked up by the feds hours later before departing for Vienna. As chance would have it, Giuliani also had plans to leave the country today. Guess where he was headed.
Last night, when Rudy Giuliani told me he couldn’t get together for an interview, his reason made sense: As with many nights of late, he was due to appear on Hannity. When I suggested this evening instead, his response was a bit more curious. We would have to aim for lunch, Giuliani told me, because he was planning to fly to Vienna, Austria, at night. He didn’t offer any details beyond that…
Giuliani, when confirming today that Parnas and Fruman were heading to Vienna on matters “related to their business,” told the Journal that he himself only had plans to meet with them when they returned to Washington. By this logic, Giuliani was also planning to fly to Vienna within roughly 24 hours of his business associates, but do no business with them while all three were there.
Just a coincidence that they all had business in Vienna on basically the same day, just one day removed from lunch together, and yet that business was unrelated.
Somehow this is going to end with Rudy in the back of a white Bronco being tailed by 27 squad cars. And maybe with Nancy Pelosi having Rick Perry (or Giuliani, of course) thrown in a makeshift brig in the Capitol basement. The problem with having the plot arcs on “President Trump” turn increasingly outlandish is that it forces the writers to keep trying to top them.
In lieu of an exit question, here’s Cory Gardner being asked today whether he’s okay with a president asking a foreign leader to investigate a political rival. I admire his sheer determination in refusing to directly answer the question.
Breaking: @SenCoryGardner refuses to answer question whether it is appropriate for the President to ask a foreign leader to investigate a rival. Quite the exchange in Denver #copolitics #kdvr pic.twitter.com/5Y0EYOcKjM
— Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge) October 10, 2019