In what might be the smartest string of words in this two-minute faceplant, Chris Cuomo advises Rudy Giuliani, “Just be careful what you say.” Too late! Within about thirty seconds, Giuliani contradicts himself on whether he asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden as a representative of “my client.” His client in this case just happens to be the American head of state, the man who might be running against Biden next year for a second term.
Soooo … what was that promise Trump allegedly made to the Ukrainian president?
Cuomo to Rudy Giuliani: "Did you ask the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?"
Rudy: "No, I actually didn't"
[20 seconds later]
Cuomo: "So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?"
Rudy: "Of course I did!" pic.twitter.com/cuwTCvTcRn
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) September 20, 2019
He explained to host Chris Cuomo, “I found out this incredible story about Joe Biden, that he bribed the president of the Ukraine in order to fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son.”
Cuomo asked Giuliani, “Did you ask the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?”
“No, actually I didn’t,” Giuliani responded. “I asked the Ukraine to investigate the allegations that there was interference in the election of 2016 by the Ukrainians for the benefit of Hillary Clinton —”
Cuomo pressed him, “You never asked anything about Hunter Biden? You never asked anything about Joe Biden?”
Giuliani replied that “the only thing I asked about Joe Biden” was to get to the bottom of how it was that the prosecutor who had been appointed to investigate Biden dismissed the case against him.
“So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden,” Cuomo asked.
“Of course I did,” said Giuliani.
I’m not sure which part of this made me laugh louder — Giuliani contradicting himself within a 30-second span, or Cuomo’s later insistence that “I’m not biased!” Come on, man. That also applies to Giuliani as well, especially with this answer to Cuomo when he asked Giuliani to produce documentation to corroborate his allegations against the Bidens:
Giuliani questioned the motivations of the person who filed the complaint, saying they would be investigated by the intelligence community’s inspector general.
The conversation eventually returned to Biden, with the host questioning whether Giuliani could produce documents he had referenced to back up his allegations.
“Why would I give the enemy the documents? … You are not fair and impartial. You are totally biased and your network is a creature of a Democratic National Committee,” Giuliani claimed.
If that’s true, then what in God’s name is Giuliani doing on Cuomo’s show? Why bother showing up at all? It’s not as if CNN is the only outlet on which a Trump supporter can get any air time, after all. And it’s not as if there isn’t some smoke around the Bidens and Ukraine, either, including the use of official authority for personal benefit, as the New York Times reported in May:
It was a foreign policy role Joseph R. Biden Jr. enthusiastically embraced during his vice presidency: browbeating Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government to clean up its act. And one of his most memorable performances came on a trip to Kiev in March 2016, when he threatened to withhold $1 billion in United States loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss the country’s top prosecutor, who had been accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in his own office and among the political elite.
The pressure campaign worked. The prosecutor general, long a target of criticism from other Western nations and international lenders, was soon voted out by the Ukrainian Parliament.
Among those who had a stake in the outcome was Hunter Biden, Mr. Biden’s younger son, who at the time was on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch who had been in the sights of the fired prosecutor general.
In other words, it’s not as if Giuliani’s making this up out of whole cloth. Furthermore, it wouldn’t be the first time that Ukraine has had a White House yank its chain over some personal benefit to the top two American constitutional officers. One has to wonder if Ukraine’s leadership stays up late at night wondering what the heck a President Beto would need from them.
NBC’s Today show reminded us this morning that House Democrats had already taken an interest in Giuliani’s attempts at legal diplomacy on behalf of the Trump campaign. That’s not going to help Trump much in tamping down the speculation over the whistleblower complaint about his call with Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, especially after last night’s leaks that it had something directly to do with a Biden probe:
Top House Democrats are already investigating whether Rudy Giuliani tried to influence the Ukrainian government to help the president’s reelection campaign and investigate Joe Biden
Giuliani contradicted himself when asked about investigating Biden during an interview last night pic.twitter.com/hJq1KhbFV0
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 20, 2019
In letters to the White House and State Department, top Democrats earlier this month demanded records related to what they say are Trump and Giuliani’s efforts “to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing two politically-motivated investigations under the guise of anti-corruption activity” — one to help Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is in prison for illegal lobbying and financial fraud, and a second to target the son of former vice president Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump…
Lawmakers also became aware in August that the Trump administration may be trying to stop [military] aid from reaching Ukraine, according to a congressional official.
Actually, that sounds like Trump and Giuliani were employing Biden’s own strategy. That doesn’t make it acceptable, however; corruption is corruption, and the excuse that the other guy did it first isn’t exactly a “drain the swamp” response. This might swing a few more House Democrats into the impeach column over the weekend, assuming the complaint pans out for them — or assuming Giuliani keeps shooting his mouth off on national television. He’s going to talk Trump out of office if Trump keeps him around much longer.