What Happened To Rudy Giuliani?
Giuliani was once a crusader against organized crime and – as mayor of New York – for zero tolerance against the pettier ones. His career is now a byword for the moral descent that characterizes public life.
Without Mr Giuliani there would be no impeachment inquiry into Trump. It was he who convinced Trump of the alternative theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 US election. It was Giuliani who recruited Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, and Kurt Volker, the former US envoy, to press Ukraine to announce a corruption investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
It is one thing to run a parallel foreign policy as the president’s private lawyer. It is another to extort interference in a US election. It is all about how and from whom he gets his money.
One suspicion is whether it comes from Russia-linked interests. Giuliani has ties to prominent Russian-Ukrainian oligarchs including Pavel Fuks, who once tried and failed to negotiate a Trump Towers in Moscow with Trump, and Dmitry Firtash, an energy billionaire who is fighting extradition to the US on charges of bribery and racketeering. Giuliani is also mentor to Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born businessmen who were arrested last month by the FBI on election finance charges. One of their companies, a cyber security outfit called Fraud Guarantee – yes, you read that correctly – paid Giuliani $500,000 in consulting fees. Part of the charge sheet is that they donated $325,000 to America First Action, a pro-Trump campaign group, with money channelled from Russia.
Another question is whether Giuliani is monetising his access to Trump on behalf of unsavoury foreign interests. Among his clients are Reza Zarrab, a Turkish businessman, who is charged in the US for sanctions evasion with Iran. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wants Zarrab sent home. Giuliani has lobbied Trump to drop the charges.
Giuliani has not registered as a foreign lobbyist. Failure to do so was part of what landed Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, with a seven-year jail sentence. It was also a charge to which Mike Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty.
How does a national hero permit himself to go from there to here? Only Giuliani knows. Faced with a choice between notoriety and losing the limelight, he chose the former.