Former New York City mayor turned President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been at the center of newly emerging scandal surrounding Trump’s attempt to get Ukrainian authorities to essentially bolster his 2020 re-election bid. Now, these issues have culminated in further scrutiny on Giuliani personally, who’s lawyered up as the Democratic majority in the House closes in — and it’s never a good sign when the president’s lawyer gets a lawyer. Hitting him recently with subpoenas, House investigators want documents and depositions covering Giuliani’s relationship to wealthy Ukrainian Pavel Fuks and the pair of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were born in the Soviet Union but are now based in Florida and have assisted Giuliani at times with his efforts to procure politically helpful dirt from Ukraine against Trump opponents.
Besides serving as personal lawyer for the president of the United States and as de facto representative for the U.S. government via dealing directly with Ukrainian authorities, Giuliani has spent years working as a consultant, although his company doesn’t disclose its clients publicly.
Still, it’s known that Fuks paid Giuliani in 2017 for consulting work for the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv when it was developing an emergency response system. (Fuks has been banned from the U.S. for five years for not entirely clear reasons.) Meanwhile, Parnas has claimed that Giuliani works as an attorney for him and Fruman, but the details of that arrangement — including potential payment — are unclear, although Giuliani has said, in reference to his work for Trump, that his “other clients are paying” him.
Giuliani, of course, insists there’s nothing to see here and no financial entanglement that is worth scrutiny, even as he continues to serve as a de facto voice of the U.S. federal government despite in reality remaining at present simply a private citizen with a penchant for wide-ranging conspiracy theories. The often impassioned public figure claims concern simply constitutes Democrats hoping to “shoot the messenger,” which assumes that the dirt he’s been after from Ukraine has some kind of magnificent importance — not out of character for the egomaniacal Trump team.
As former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul put it:
‘It is problematic that the same person is one day portrayed as a private individual and the next day as someone working on behalf of the U.S. government and the next day as someone working on behalf of Donald Trump personally.’
Giuliani stepped into communications with Ukrainian authorities enough times that a whistleblower complaint revealing the whole thing claims State Department officials had to consult with counterparts overseas about how to deal with the mess of messaging.
Besides the mentioned interests with ties to Ukraine — Parnas and Fruman have been apparently attempting to develop natural gas interests there — Giuliani’s known clients include other questionable at best interests too, like an Iranian resistance group that at one point was designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department.
The work exemplifies how off the rails the situation has gotten — most recently, Giuliani suggested he’d be responding by filing a lawsuit “Trump v. The Swamp,” using one of the president’s nicknames for D.C. corruption that in his perception somehow never includes him, but it’s unclear what form that would actually take, to say the least.
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