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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
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03 Oct 2021, 8:05 am

Former prosecutors say he is in an excruciating legal predicament — and could very well flip.

Has any political figure in recent years fallen farther and harder than Rudy Giuliani? On the eve of September 11 — the 20th anniversary of the day that catapulted him into national renown — Fox News told him that he had been banned from appearing on the network, likely because Giuliani had helped land Fox in hot water for claiming that two election-technology companies had helped rig the election in favor of Joe Biden. Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic have since filed separate billion-dollar defamation lawsuits against both Fox and Giuliani, who is embroiled in so many costly legal shenanigans these days that he has apparently resorted to selling personalized video greetings over the service Cameo for a few hundred dollars a pop.

On top of that, his law license was suspended in New York and Washington, D.C., after he repeatedly lied to courts and in public statements to help Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election results with baseless charges of widespread fraud. He is reportedly “aghast” that Trump has declined to help him out financially, despite the fact that Giuliani, as Trump’s onetime personal lawyer, had been his fiercest henchman. Giuliani has gotten so desperate that his allies launched a Rudy Giuliani Freedom Fund, replete with an endorsement from tarnished lawyer Alan Dershowitz, that blasts “deep state” forces for Giuliani’s legal morass.

And at the center of Giuliani’s legal troubles is a web of overlapping federal investigations, including a criminal probe focusing on him personally, which some experts say could force him to yield to prosecutors in a case that may implicate the former president.

“Giuliani is facing a set of challenges unlike anything he’s dealt with before,” Michael Bromwich, a former inspector general at the Justice Department, told me. “The extremely serious criminal investigation that could send him to jail, the civil suits that could bankrupt him, the disbarment proceedings that may well end any opportunity to practice law ever again — it’s a tidal wave of problems with potentially devastating personal and professional consequences.”

Bromwich added, “It’s hard to think of any analogous case where a person who once rode so high — as a prosecutor, a New York mayor, a serious presidential candidate, and an international figure — has been brought so low in so many ways and where the damage has been entirely self-inflicted.”

If Trump’s conspiratorial crusade against the phantom of election fraud ensnared Giuliani in potentially ruinous civil lawsuits, it was Trump’s unscrupulous campaign against Joe Biden and his son Hunter that goaded Giuliani into consorting with the shady operators who are now in the crosshairs of American criminal prosecutors. One of those men, Ukrainian-born Lev Parnas, is due to be tried on October 12 on charges of making illegal campaign donations from a foreign source. Another Soviet-born operator, Igor Fruman, pleaded guilty in September to the same offense. Parnas and Fruman, who have lived in Florida for some time, were key allies in helping Giuiani dig up dirt on the Bidens in Ukraine in the run-up to the 2020 election.

Giuliani has not yet been charged with any crimes. Nor has he been implicated in the illegal-donation schemes that led authorities to nab Parnas and Fruman. Rather, the criminal inquiry into Giulani is focused on whether Trump’s former lawyer, during his sprawling fishing expedition with Parnas, Fruman, and others in Ukraine, violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a decades-old law that requires people who lobby the U.S. government on behalf of foreign officials or entities to disclose their activities to the Justice Department. Giuliani may also have legal headaches stemming from separate federal fraud charges against Parnas and a federal investigation into a Ukrainian politician suspected of meddling in the 2020 election.

“As Giuliani looks over the landscape he faces, it appears there are legal storm clouds in three separate matters, all of which could have potentially serious consequences for him,” said Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor.

While we have grown accustomed to members of Trumpworld being mired in lawsuits, it is worth underscoring that Giuliani is confronting extreme levels of legal and financial risk — and he has few, if any, good options. “The emotional and financial pressure of a single long-term federal white-collar investigation can take a crippling toll on any target of such an investigation,” said Paul Pelletier, a former acting chief of the Justice Department’s fraud section. “Enduring multiple investigations, in addition to bar disciplinary actions and financial pressures, creates an enormous incentive to alleviate that pressure in some way. The only logical ways I know of are to plead guilty, cooperate, or both.

The budding criminal case against Giuliani seems to have been jump-started by his extensive dealings with Parnas and Fruman, who were arrested at Dulles airport in October 2019 before they could hop on a flight to Vienna. Giuliani had tapped the two men to arrange contacts in Ukraine, including current and former prosecutors, who could help him develop and push conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukraine gas company. Trumpworld’s attempt to use a foreign power to damage the former president’s political opponent, as you may remember, was the basis for his first impeachment, in December 2019.

It was also, apparently, a major catalyst behind FBI agents’ raid of Giuliani’s New York office and apartment in April of this year, in which they seized 18 cell phones and computers.

“The fact that a judge issued the warrant, despite the high bar for obtaining one, would seem to indicate that Giuliani is at least a subject of what appears to include violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act,” Zeldin said,

The FBI also seized other electronic devices from the Washington, D.C., residence of conservative lawyer Victoria Toensing. A Giuliani ally, Toensing had a $1 million contract in tandem with her lawyer husband, Joe diGenova, to represent a billionaire Ukrainian oligarch, Dmytro Firtash, who had aided Giuliani’s Ukraine gambit, according to news reports.

Judging from Parnas’s past public statements, too, the probe of Giuliani is serious. During Trump’s impeachment, Parnas made no secret in interviews that he took his cues from Giuliani and Trump as they tried zealously to find current and former officials in Ukraine to blemish Biden, linking his actions as vice-president under Barack Obama to Hunter’s Ukraine gig.

Parnas told Rachel Maddow in early 2020, “I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.” Parnas stressed that high-level officials in Ukraine would have ignored him unless it was clear that he was their emissary. “That’s the secret” Trump administration officials were “trying to keep,” he said. “I was on the ground doing their work.”

Former Justice Department officials see more trouble ahead. Gerry Hebert, who spent more than two decades as a senior lawyer in the voting-rights section at the department, said, “Parnas’s likely conviction may lead to his cooperation before he’s sentenced to prison … With his personal freedom at stake, the walls are closing in on more than just Giuliani’s legal career.”

There’s much, much more, though no other ongoing case appears to threaten Giuliani, criminally speaking, quite as directly as his dealings with Parnas and Fruman. He

(1) The New York Times has reported that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are investigating election meddling involving a Ukrainian politician, Andrii Derkach, whom U.S. officials sanctioned in September 2020 and accused of having been an “active Russian agent” for more than a decade. Giuliani met at least twice with Derkach, in Kiev and New York, and appeared with Derkach on the far-right One America News Network in 2019 and a podcast in 2020 to peddle dubious claims to damage Biden.

(2) Parnas faces a second trial for allegedly defrauding investors in a scam company he helped set up that funneled Giuliani $500,000 in consulting fees for his legal and technical services in what could have been a ploy to lure investors using Giuliani’s name.

(3) According to Bloomberg, Giuliani faces a separate foreign-lobbying inquiry by federal prosecutors in his old office, who are looking into whether he may have been lobbying for Turkey in prodding the Trump administration in 2017 to drop charges against his law client Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-born gold trader based in Turkey who was accused of plotting to illegally funnel $10 billion to Iran despite sanctions against the country. Zarrab wound up copping a guilty plea and implicating Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the scheme. The investigation, which reportedly is a civil and not a criminal one, is also looking into whether Giuliani lobbied Trump to deport Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, a move the Washington Post has reported was a “top priority” of Erdogan’s.

On top of the ongoing probes, Giuliani’s two law license suspensions could have severe repercussions, particularly as they relate to the defamation suits that have been filed against him by Dominion and Smartmatic.

While some experts say Giuliani, if he faces charges, will likely fold before going to jail, others are not so sure.

One problem for Giuliani is that prosecutors have extra motivation in pursuing him, given the zealous lengths he has gone to undermine the democratic system that the Justice Department is supposed to protect. “Giuliani has made himself a very attractive target for prosecutors, because of who he is and what he’s done,” said Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor. “Prosecutors may view taking down Giuliani as a significant career achievement.”

Gillers added, “Giuliani has more than embarrassed the department. He’s betrayed what they hold dear, and that’s a motivating factor for going after him, if the proof is there.”

But there is no one that Giuliani has embarrassed more than himself.

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Joined: 12 Apr 2010
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03 Oct 2021, 7:41 pm

Well, unless Trump makes Rudy a special case and actually pays him for legal fees that he owes, and gives him a hand with his defense, Rudy won't have much choice other than to turn on his orange messiah.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer