Congress did not legislate a handoff of foreign-diplomacy power to the president’s personal lawyer. He is not working pursuant to a government contract containing legal remedies for the United States if he breaches the terms of his employment. He did not take an oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution—unlike members of Congress, who will have to weigh that oath heavily as the evidence bearing on impeachment mounts in the coming weeks. He is not bound by federal conflict-of-interest, transparency, or ethics laws—including the Freedom of Information Act—passed by prior Congresses to ensure that people entrusted with the American populace’s authority to self-govern do their jobs with integrity to the Constitution, the rule of law, and the norms that undergird our system of justice.

As Trump’s personal lawyer, Giuliani’s ethical obligation is solely to his client, Donald J. Trump—the individual, not his office. The Ukraine narrative is plain in this regard. Trump’s interests in tarnishing Biden in furtherance of his own reelection bid were at odds with official U.S. policy toward Ukraine. For decades, the United States has supported the democratization of Ukraine against Russian aggression on the rationale that Ukraine is physically situated as a bulwark for a slew of Western European democracies. Unless we are to believe that Giuliani was acting with zero Trumpian collaboration—a logical impossibility that some of Trump’s most stalwart defenders are nevertheless testing out as an alibi for the president—it appears that Giuliani went rogue on Ukrainian foreign policy at Trump’s personal behest…

This is an abuse of power, plain and simple. Trump tapped someone who operated outside the U.S. Constitution and federal law to supplant sworn diplomats and implement a policy that has wholly private objectives aimed at helping Trump personally, to the detriment of the foreign-policy interests of the United States. The role Giuliani has played in matters of state is less Harry Hopkins than Rasputin, the Siberian shaman whose close but amorphous relationship with the Russian royal family afforded him enormous power over matters of church and state.