While virtually everyone in Washington is burning any Christmas card or note connecting them to Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump gave a rambling and at times baffling interview on Fox & Friends in which he not only doubled down on his faith in Giuliani but restated the importance of the widely discredited Crowdstrike server claims. Giuliani has been denounced for his role in the Ukraine scandal and portrayed as a universally despised individual in the State Department and national security agencies. Yet, Trump heralded Giuliani as “a great crime-fighter” and leader even though Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned his role in the scandal and raised the fact that two of his associates are now under indictment. I have been critical of Giuliani’s representation of the President for years. The interview could be an effort to keep Giuliani, who is under federal investigation, in the fold or the President may genuinely still believe that Giuliani is not only blameless but praiseworthy. Either way, this is not good. Both Giuliani and the Crowdstrike theory have been discredited in prior testimony. Nevertheless, the interview offer a glimpse into a possible defense in the Senate.
Trump declared “Rudy is a great crime-fighter. Rudy is the best mayor in the history of New York City. Rudy Giuliani is a very legendary figure in our country.” He later added “He’s also a friend of mine. He’s a great person . . . the greatest mayor in the history of New York” and “the greatest crime-fighter probably in the last 50 years. When Rudy Giuliani goes there and you hear it’s a corrupt country, it means a lot.”
Trump may argue that he had every reason to rely on Giuliani’s opinion of Ukraine and, while many may disagree, it is his prerogative to accept the view of someone Trump views as an anti-crime figure. The problem is that the President appears alone in this view.
The Fox hosts also pushed back on Trump’s restatement of the Crowdstrike theory. The President declared “A lot of it had to do, they say, with Ukraine. They have the server, right? From the DNC … they gave the server to CrowdStrike — or whatever it’s called — which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian, and I still want to see that server. You know, the FBI has never gotten that server. That’s a big part of this whole thing. Why did they give it to a Ukrainian company?”
Even host Steve Doocy pointedly interrupted and asked, “Are you sure they did that? Are you sure they gave it to Ukraine?”
Trump responded “Well, that’s what the word is.”
That is not what the word is. However, the defense may be that the President again was acting on erroneous but good-faith views of the facts. The obvious retort is that this is not a good-faith view since the FBI did have access to the server and this is not in fact a Ukrainian company.
While I continue to believe that the Democrats are proceeding on an incomplete record and dubious theories of crimes like bribery, I do believe that they presented compelling evidence of that virtually everyone came to believe that there was quid pro quo demand coming from the President. From the first day of this scandal, I stated that such an abuse of power could be impeachable. However, the House must call key material witnesses like Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton rather than stick with an arbitrary December deadline for a vote.
Here is the interview: