Trump lawyers offer defense of Giuliani on the Senate floor

President Trump’s impeachment defense team on Monday offered a lengthy defense of Rudy Giuliani’s role in Ukraine, accusing House Democrats of perpetuating a misleading narrative about his motives in pursuing investigations in Kyiv while diminishing his role in the matter at the center of the impeachment inquiry.  

Jane Raskin, who represented Trump alongside Giuliani during former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, delivered a 15-minute statement on the Senate floor in which she focused entirely on Giuliani.

She asserted Democrats were using the former New York City mayor’s involvement in Ukraine matters to distract from what Trump’s legal team has described as a lack of evidence in the impeachment trial. 

“The House managers would have you believe that Mr. Giuliani is at the center of this controversy,” Raskin said. “They’ve anointed him the proxy villain of the tale, the leader of a rogue operation. Their presentations were filled with ad hominem attacks and name-calling … but I suggest to you he’s front and center in their narrative for one reason alone: to distract from the fact that the evidence does not support their claims.”

Raskin described Giuliani as a “national hero,” implying Democrats only soured on him after he supported Trump for president in 2016.

She also suggested that Democrats were grasping at straws in characterizing Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, as acting with a political interest in pursuing investigations into alleged Ukrainian election interference — including a debunked theory about Kyiv’s role in the 2016 Democratic National Committee’s server hack — and the Bidens in Ukraine. 

Raskin asserted that Giuliani’s pursuits were not about the 2020 presidential election, citing the fact that he undertook the effort before Mueller’s report on Russian interference was released and before Biden announced his presidential bid. She said he was driven by a motivation to defend his client against the Mueller probe. 

“He was not on a political errand,” Raskin argued. “He was doing what good defense attorneys do. … He was gathering evidence about Ukrainian election interference to defend his client against the false allegations being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.” 

The defense team devoting time to defending Giuliani’s actions came as something of a surprise given that even some Republicans have expressed skepticism about his role in Ukraine. 

Multiple current and former administration officials testified during the House impeachment inquiry that Giuliani was conducting a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine and led an effort to oust former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Officials said Trump had directed them to “talk to Rudy” on Ukraine matters, and they believed Giuliani was acting with the president’s interests in mind.

Giuliani has publicly discussed his efforts to dig up damaging information on the Bidens and other Democrats in Ukraine, but he has insisted the State Department was aware of his activities.

In his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump said he wanted to put Zelensky in contact with Giuliani. 

Giuliani traveled to Ukraine in December in search of more potentially damaging information on Democrats. Trump denied sending Giuliani on the trip, saying his attorney did so “out of love.” Giuliani later said he hoped to brief lawmakers on his findings.

Trump has repeatedly defended Giuliani’s character throughout the impeachment proceedings, hailing him as a great “crime-fighter” who was worried about corruption abroad.

House impeachment managers cited witness testimony and Giuliani’s statements to bolster their case that Trump sought to abuse his office for his own political gain.

More details about Giuliani’s involvement in the affair have come to light even since the Democratic-controlled House voted to impeach Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Days before the impeachment trial began in earnest, Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Giuliani, provided a May 10 letter to House investigators in which Giuliani wrote to Zelensky identifying himself as “private counsel” to Trump and asking for a meeting to discuss an unnamed matter. Many have taken the outreach to be part of Giuliani’s effort to pursue the investigation.

Tags Donald Trump Impeachment Marie Yovanovitch Mueller investigation Robert Mueller Rudy Giuliani
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