- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2019

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani keeps popping up all over the Ukraine impeachment inquiry, but lawmakers can’t determine how responsible President Trump is for his fixer, who is a notoriously loose cannon.

The impeachment inquiry has found Mr. Giuliani’s fingerprints on almost every aspect of the case, on Mr. Trump’s now-infamous phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, on the ouster of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and on the pressure campaign for a Ukrainian corruption probe targeting Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter.

His name is guaranteed to get tossed about at the inquiry’s public hearings, which start Wednesday and where Democrats will make the case that Mr. Giuliani was running a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine at the behest of Mr. Trump.

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Mr. Giuliani has called the Democrats’ investigation a “frame-up” and insists that he was merely defending Mr. Trump against constantly evolving accusations.

“The investigation I conducted concerning 2016 Ukrainian collusion and corruption, was done solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges, that kept changing as one after another was disproven,” he tweeted.

Last month, when the inquiry began honing in on Mr. Giuliani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it wasn’t unusual for a White House to use people from outside the administration to shape foreign policy.

“Private citizens often are part of executing American foreign policy,” he said.

Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican and one of Mr. Trump’s most vigorous supporters on Capitol Hill, cast Mr. Giuliani as more like a wild card in Ukraine.

“There are a whole lot of things that he does that he doesn’t apprise anybody of,” Mr. Meadows told The Washington Post.

He added that investigating Ukraine interference in the 2016 U.S. elections would not be beyond the pale for the former mayor.

“His role as a private attorney to defend the president against some of the 2016 election interference allegations both for and against are certainly something a private attorney should do,” he said.

Democrats, however, do not think Mr. Giuliani was acting independently.

“I think it’s important that the American people understand Rudy Giuliani is Donald Trump and Donald Trump is Rudy Giuliani,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that is leading the impeachment inquiry.

“If Giuliani is doing something, it’s because he’s the lawyer for Donald Trump and lawyers don’t take actions that are not authorized by their clients,” he said.

Democrats have highlighted testimony from State and Defense officials that vilified Mr. Giuliani during more than a month of closed-door interviews for the impeachment probe.

The first witnesses to appear at the public hearings Wednesday are Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and William Taylor, a top diplomat in Ukraine. Both pointed the finger at Mr. Giuliani.

Mr. Taylor told the impeachment committees that the former mayor created an “irregular channel” of diplomacy that worked independently from the administration.

“The irregular channel seemed to focus on specific issues, specific cases, rather than the regular channel’s focus on institution building,” he said.

Mr. Sondland described Mr. Giuliani as being at the forefront of the pressure campaign in Kyiv.

Mr. Giuliani emphasized that the president wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing Ukraine to look into anti-corruption issues,” he said. “Mr. Giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election and Burisma as two anti-corruption investigatory topics of importance for the president.”

The allegations of corruption involving the Bidens center on Ukraine natural gas company Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden got a lucrative job on the board of directors, despite having no experience in the energy field, while his father was the point man for Obama White House policy in that graft-riddled country.

In the transcripts of testimony released by the Democrats’ inquiry, many witnesses described Mr. Giuliani’s connection with Ukrainian officials, several of whom hoped to curry favor with him and by extension the president.

In particular, the mayor allied himself with Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s former chief prosecutor. Mr. Lutsenko pushed accusations about Clinton campaign interference in 2016, the Biden family and Ms. Yovanovitch, whom Mr. Trump ultimately fired as ambassador.

Ms. Yovanovitch is scheduled to appear at the inquiry’s public hearing on Friday.

Some officials said they thought the president’s perception of Ukraine was colored by information from Mr. Giuliani.

“The president was railing about Ukraine in the meeting at the White House, and he was going on and on and on about his dissatisfaction with Ukraine,” Mr. Sondland said. “He didn’t even want to deal with it any more. And he basically waved and said: Go talk to Rudy, he knows all about Ukraine.”

The crux of the Democrats’ impeachment case against Mr. Trump is his use of military aid to Ukraine as a quid pro quo exchange for investigations that would provide personal political benefit.

It was Mr. Giuliani’s interest in having the Ukrainians look into the 2016 election and the Biden family — which he told Mr. Sondland and others about — that Democrats zero in on as evidence of a quid pro quo.

Mr. Sondland told Ukrainian officials that both military aid and a White House visit were contingent on their agreement to announce certain investigations in an anti-corruption statement. But he said that he assumed Mr. Giuliani made it a condition.

While questioning Kurt Volker, a former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, Democratic lawmakers sought to cast Mr. Giuliani’s push for investigations as a direct line from Mr. Trump.

“So when Mr. Giuliani said that without mentioning Burisma the statement wouldn’t be credible, they would have understood that he was communicating for the president,” prompted Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and the panel chairman. “They would have understood that Giuliani was Trump’s agent, he wasn’t an agent of the State Department?”

Mr. Volker said he could not vouch for Mr. Giuliani’s role in Ukraine.

“I don’t know whether Mr. Giuliani represented himself as speaking for the president. I don’t know any of that,” Mr. Volker said. “I do know from the Ukrainians that they viewed him as someone who communicated with the president and, therefore, they wanted to tell their story to him.”

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