Looks like Ukraine won’t have Rudy Giuliani to kick around next week. Is this a retreat? Not at all, Rudy Giuliani insisted. He just became concerned he was walking into a “trap,” perhaps set by “enemies of the United States” in Ukraine. That won’t end Giuliani’s interest in the investigation, even if it does end his direct participation in it.
“In order to remove any political suggestion,” the president’s personal attorney told Fox’s Shannon Bream, “I will step back and I will just watch it unfold.”
Facing withering attacks accusing him of seeking foreign assistance for President Trump’s re-election campaign, Rudolph W. Giuliani announced on Friday night that he had canceled a trip to Kiev in which he planned to push the incoming Ukrainian government to press ahead with investigations that he hoped would benefit Mr. Trump.
Mr. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, explained that he felt like he was being “set up,” and he blamed Democrats for trying to “spin” the trip.
“They say I was meddling in the election — ridiculous — but that’s their spin,” he said.
Mr. Giuliani said on Thursday that he had hoped to meet in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, with the nation’s president-elect and urge him to pursue inquiries that could yield new information about two matters of intense interest to Mr. Trump. One is the origin of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The other is the involvement of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.
The trip raised the specter of a lawyer for Mr. Trump pressing a foreign government to pursue investigations that his allies hope could help him win re-election. And it comes after Mr. Trump has spent more than half of his term facing scrutiny about whether his 2016 campaign conspired with Ukraine’s hostile neighbor, Russia. Mr. Giuliani had planned to leave on Sunday.
If nothing else, this interview shows why Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani are so simpatico. Both of them speak in stream-of-consciousness monologues; in fact, it’s tough to call this an interview. It comes across as a lightly-interrupted rant, one that leaves Bream nearly breathless. By the time it ends, Giuliani is tossing out a suggestion about taking “executive privilege.” Bream, who at this point was attempting to bring this interview to a close, sputters, “You’re making headlines here,” as Giuliani finally finishes up.
Needless to say, whether this was a retreat or not, it’s a much smarter choice than Giuliani’s original plan to drop in on Kyiv. Regarding his belated concern about “enemies of the United States” in Ukraine, what exactly did Giuliani expect? The situation in Ukraine is extremely complicated politically and militarily, with Russia working very hard to take control of Kyiv again. That’s one reason among others that this was a crazy idea from the start, just as it was nutty for the DNC to attempt to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Donald Trump on behalf of Hillary Clinton. As Bream manages to squeeze into one of Giuliani’s rare breaths, the “optics” of leveraging a foreign government to dig up dirt on the expected 2020 Democratic nominee look pretty ugly, especially in light of the last two years.
It’s not even clear what Giuliani hoped to accomplish. He told the NYT’s Kenneth Vogel that his intent was “meddling in an investigation,” not an election, “which we have a right to do.” Well, maybe, but that would still poison the investigation with power politics and make the results useless. It would also open up suspicions that the Trump administration used the US’ more formal diplomatic might to pressure Ukraine to deliver the desired investigatory results. If Giuliani returned from Ukraine carrying the smoking gun for FBI malfeasance and/or damning information on Joe Biden, just how credible would that information be?
Sometimes, it’s best to just sit back and let things unfold on their own. This is one of those times. Fortunately, that doesn’t have to mean that Giuliani can’t continue to entertain us with these monologues and give news anchors a break from preparing questions.