Attorney General Bill Barr has made it clear that he will never prosecute President Donald Trump regardless of what he does. Trump’s key ally, Rudy Giuliani, however, enjoys no such protections.
Former assistant U.S. attorney Mimi Rocah authored a piece outlining that based on public information, Giuliani can be prosecuted for his actions.
Trump confirmed this week that he had conversations with President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 and made “about eight” demands Ukraine work with Giuliani to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Trump then confirmed that he blocked nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine, before trying to say it had nothing to do with his efforts to find dirt on the Bidens.
“It is not yet clear if Trump explicitly mentioned the hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid previously promised to Ukraine during the July 25 call — but whether he did or did not is legally irrelevant,” Rocah wrote. “It does seem clear, however, that the Trump-Zelensky conversations are part of a broader campaign by Trump to pressure Ukraine into doing election opposition research, using previously promised military aid package as leverage.”
At the same time, a whistleblower filed a complaint that Trump said something so inappropriate that the senior intelligence official raised it with the director of national intelligence and the inspector general. It’s still unconfirmed whether that complaint dealt with Ukraine or another issue entirely. The DNI is blocking Congress from having access to the complaint, despite laws mandating he do so.
The demand that Ukraine investigate Biden dates back to previous conversations Giuliani was having months ago where he asked Ukrainian officials to work with him to accuse Biden of crimes, whether they were real or not. Those officials refused, saying that there was an investigation and Biden was not involved.
When asked, Giuliani admitted that he couldn’t say 100 percent that Trump didn’t threaten Ukraine.
“There are several different federal laws that might apply to Giuliani’s conduct here. Most obviously, Giuliani appears to be in violation of the Logan Act, which makes it a crime for private citizens who attempt to intervene without authorization in disputes or controversies between the United States and foreign governments,” Rocah wrote. “He is Trump’s personal lawyer, not a government official, and so his involvement is clearly a complicating, detrimental element for U.S. diplomatic interests. Ukraine officials need to know who is speaking for the president and, as Ukrainian journalist Serhiy Leshchenko wrote this week, who is trying to ‘drag’ Ukraine into a U.S. presidential election.”
She explained that Giuliani and Trump’s actions, as reported, raise to the level of federal criminal bribery and extortion conspiracy.
“While the factual record is not fully developed, federal investigations are opened every day against people with far less known and incriminating information. Any objective prosecutor, I believe, would agree with that,” she continued.
She cited a recent piece by former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade explaining how what Trump and Giuliani have confessed to publicly falls under the federal bribery statute for a public official:
The essence of both crimes is a demand by a public official to obtain something for himself to which he is not entitled in exchange for performing an official act of his office. Here, if the reporting is correct, Trump may be similarly committing bribery and extortion by using the power of his office to demand a thing of value, dirt on Biden, in exchange for an official act, the provision of military aid. This is precisely the kind of old-fashioned corruption scheme that the bribery and extortion statutes were designed to punish.
If Giuliani agreed to assist in the plot he aided and abetted the conspiracy, she explained. It falls under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and she said that as a former mob prosecutor, Giuliani should know better. Most of such bribery crimes don’t involve explicit quid pro quo and the law accounts for that.
“These are not things I say lightly or indeed ever imagined I would have to say about the top law enforcement official in America. But here we are,” she closed.