- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2020

Jane Raskin, a member of President Trump’s legal team, took the Senate impeachment trial on a detour Monday with a particularly fierce defense of the president’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Stunning the senator jurors, Mrs. Raskin described the frequently maligned former New York City mayor as a “minor player” in the Ukraine inquiry who still managed to fare better than lead House Democratic impeachment manager Rep. Adam B. Schiff.

“In the end, after a two-year siege on the presidency, two inspector general reports and a $32 million special counsel investigation, turns out Rudy was spot on,” Mrs. Raskin said. “Seems to me, if we’re keeping score on who got it right on allegations of FISA abuse, egregious misconduct at the highest level of the FBI, of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and supposed obstruction of justice in connection with the special counsel investigation — the score is Mayor Giuliani four, Mr. Schiff zero.”

She slammed Democrats for what she described as an unfair portrayal of Mr. Giuliani as a “proxy villain” in their impeachment case.

The presentation turned heads in the Senate, where Mr. Trump’s defense team was putting on its first full day of arguments after a brief opening statement Saturday.

But those who know Mrs. Raskin were not surprised.

“Jane Raskin is tops! Very strong,” said veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd, who worked with Mrs. Raskin on Mr. Trump’s legal team fighting special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

She launched her legal career in Boston on a Justice Department strike force against organized crime. Her years prosecuting white-collar crime culminated in her serving as the first assistant U.S. attorney in Massachusetts.

She and her husband, Martin Raskin, were sought-after defense lawyers in Florida before they joined the Trump defense team in April 2018, about the same time as Mr. Giuliani.

Mrs. Raskin was part of the deep bench on Mr. Trump’s team that presented the case for acquittal Monday.

Some of the team’s other lawyers taking the podium included former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, former special counsel Kenneth W. Starr and former senior Justice Department lawyer Patrick Philbin.

Ms. Bondi made the case for the legitimacy of investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who landed a high-paying job at Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father led Obama administration policy in that graft-riddled country.

House Democrats impeached Mr. Trump after accusing him of requesting the investigation to benefit his reelection bid because the former vice president is a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

During her tenure as Florida attorney general, from 2011 to 2019, Ms. Bondi became a lightning rod for liberal fury in part because she led state lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act.

Ms. Bondi and the president have had a close relationship for years. She endorsed Mr. Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 over Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Her ties to Mr. Trump, however, sparked criticism when his charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, donated $25,000 to her reelection campaign at the same time her office was investigating fraud allegations at Trump University.

In mounting a defense of Mr. Giuliani, Mrs. Raskin urged senators not to be distracted by House Democrats’ focus on him.

“In this trial, in this moment, Mr. Giuliani is just a minor player: that shiny object designed to distract you.”

House impeachment managers have cited Mr. Giuliani’s role as a private go-between for the president in Ukraine, seeking to start an investigation of the Bidens.

However, Ms. Raskin noted that the former mayor’s work in Ukraine began in late 2018, six months before Mr. Biden announced his candidacy.

“He was doing what good defense attorneys do,” she said of Mr. Giuliani. “He was gathering evidence regarding Ukrainian election interference to defend his client against the false allegations [of Russian collusion] being investigated by special counsel Mueller. But the House managers didn’t even allude to that possibility. Instead, they just repeated their mantra that Giuliani’s motive was purely political. And that speaks volumes about the bias with which they have approached their mission.”

Mr. Giuliani was working with two former associates, who are now indicted on campaign finance violations, something Mrs. Raskin didn’t mention. Testimony from several impeachment witnesses indicated that he played a role in seeking the ouster of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who he believed was impeding his investigation there.

U.S. intelligence agencies long ago concluded that Russia, not Ukraine, interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Mrs. Raskin said Mr. Giuliani’s actions have been vindicated, compared with allegations Mr. Schiff made against the president as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“The bottom line is, Mr. Giuliani defended President Trump vigorously, relentlessly, and publicly throughout the Mueller investigation,” she told senators. “The House managers may not like his style. You may not like his style. But one might argue that he is everything Clarence Darrow said a defense lawyer must be: outrageous, irreverent, blasphemous, a rogue, a renegade.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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