President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani turned heads with his bizarre, unhinged rant on national television that effectively urged Ukraine to continue trying to gather dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden — and for news outlets to take whatever they find seriously.
As Casey Michel wrote in The Daily Beast, even if this effort ultimately fails to turn up useful opposition research against Biden, this is a profoundly dangerous development for American democracy.
“Buried within Giuliani’s claims … was a new reality with which Americans on both sides of the political aisle will have to contend moving forward,” wrote Michel. “All of us — in the U.S., in Kyiv, in Moscow and Beijing and elsewhere — watched the president’s personal lawyer go on television, admit that he pressured another government to open an investigation into a presidential rival, and did so with the effective blessing of the sitting president himself.”
“The supposed proof wasn’t enough to cajole the new Ukrainian government into revisiting the non-investigation,” wrote Michel. “But that’s only one foreign government, and only one potential case. Other governments have far fewer scruples about opening potential investigations into any and all rivals they may so please. It doesn’t matter if the investigations have any merit; clearly, to the current administration in Washington, facts can wait. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the floodgates are now open.”
“Pick any government you’d like that doesn’t enjoy the protection of the separations of power that we see out of Kyiv,” wrote Michel. “Take China, for instance … What’s to stop Trump from explicitly linking a Chinese investigation into Biden to, say, an easing of American tariffs? What’s to stop Beijing from opening an investigation if Trump offers to recognize Chinese sovereignty across the entirety of the South China Sea? Or what about Iran? What if the White House offers to ease military pressures on Tehran if the Iranian government manufactures evidence that, say, Elizabeth Warren had investments in Iranian government-controlled entities?”
“And then there’s Russia. … what if Giuliani decided to flip the tables and make an offer to Moscow for the easing of sanctions in return for fabricated evidence of Kamala Harris’ or Bernie Sanders’ corruption?” wrote Michel. “What if it was for the creation of fabricated audio, or photos, or videos of them supposedly romping around a Moscow hotel bedroom? And what if, in all of these offers to Trump and his allies, the foreign government decided to turn around and try to blackmail the White House with evidence of its perfidy? How would we know?”
“The Giuliani interview [on Wednesday] was breathtaking in its willingness to denigrate basic decency, and basic democracy,” concluded Michel. “All those opposed to these democratic experiments — in Ukraine, and even in the U.S. — received an unprecedented boost last night. And they’re going to run with it, as far as they can, with the illiberals running the White House encouraging them along, every step of the way.”
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