Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

How Rudy Lost his Mind and (Probably) His Freedom

There’s some backstory to the current Rudy Giuliani drama I’d like to share.

After he left the mayoralty at the end of 2001 Giuliani made tens of millions of dollars on his reputation as “America’s Mayor” and a 9/11-based terrorism and security expert under the shingle Giuliani Partners. In the nature of things that rep was more valuable abroad than at home. He cashed in big time. That went on for about 15 years with a brief timeout for his failed 2008 presidential bid. He also had his own law firm Bracewell Giuliani, before leaving the firm to join Greenberg Traurig in 2016.

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Pay to Play and Play and Play

An utterly remarkable story this morning in the Post. Reporters got hold of a series of retainer contracts that were being negotiated early this calendar year. It’s not clear whether they were finalized or money changed hands. But they involved Rudy Giuliani agreeing to represent the former top prosecutor in Ukraine, Yuri Lutsenko, both as an individual and in his role as top prosecutor for combined sums of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just so we’re clear, this is the guy who he was working with to manufacture damaging information about the Biden family.

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Rudy, Bag Man

We’ve known for months that Rudy Giuliani held some of his Ukraine-related meetings in Spain. What wasn’t clear was what client or work had brought him to Spain in the first place. The Post reports this morning that he was staying at the Spanish estate of a Venezuelan energy magnate facing a money laundering and bribery probe in the US. There’s not anything illegal or even inappropriate about this in itself. But it underscores a clear pattern: Most of Giuliani’s business of late has been has been finding foreign oligarchs and plutocrats with legal trouble in the United States and getting paid to use his connection to Trump and the DOJ to get them off the hook.

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Notes on the New CNN Impeachment Poll

Here are a few interesting data points from the just-released CNN poll on impeachment. The topline is pretty bad for the President. 50% of Americans believe the President should be impeached and removed from office. 43% disagree. Slightly more encouraging for the President is that those are the exact numbers CNN/SSRS found in mid-late October, prior to the public hearings. The President’s approval stands at 42% with 54% disapproving. In other words, the numbers are bad. But the hearings didn’t move anyone. We can also note that his approval is basically identical to the number who oppose removal from office. It’s like perfect polarization. You either support President Trump or you think he should be removed from office.

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Today's Agenda: Judge Issues Blow To Trump's Witness Gagging

Happy Tuesday, November 26. A federal judge ruled Monday that President Donald Trump does not have the power to stop former White House counsel Don McGahn from obeying a House subpoena. Here’s more on that and the other stories we’re watching.

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The Big, Big Picture

Along with Josh Kovensky’s big scoop about Trump world lawyer Bud Cummins and the SDNY, there’s been a flurry of news over the last 48 hours about the tangle of corruption connecting Trump and Ukraine, largely but not exclusively through Rudy Giuliani. Most of these stories – and the criminal or semi-criminal networks they’re about – get hard to follow: Ten names you haven’t heard of involved in a corrupt enterprise in a country where corruption is endemic and commonplace. This tends to obscure the real pattern which is most important from a US perspective.

Let me try to explain what that is.

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Today's Agenda: Drip, Drip, Drip

Happy Monday, November 25. It feels like every day, more subplots connected to the Ukraine pressure campaign come into focus. Today is no exception. Here’s what we’re watching.

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Must Read

Great exclusive here from Josh Kovensky who’s been working this story for several weeks and has more coming on this front. Another Trump-aligned attorney — actually a former U.S. Attorney, Bud Cummins — was pushing the Southern District of New York on investigations of Joe Biden based on clients he was working for in Ukraine. He was trying to serve as an intermediary for Yuriy Lutsenko, the crooked prosecutor who later hooked up or was already working with Rudy Giuliani. Yesterday, Giuliani published a letter to Senator Lindsey Graham, offering new purported evidence for Graham’s investigation into the Biden family. This is what he was talking about.

The big picture here is that when you have a crooked President who puts out word that he’s looking for foreigners to take out his political rivals, a lot of shady people come out of the woodwork — unsurprisingly.

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