Rudy Giuliani is supposed to be extricating Donald Trump from his career-threatening mess over Ukraine, but now his own foreign freelancing seems to have seriously undercut the President’s core impeachment defense.
Corruption indictments filed Thursday against two Giuliani fixers who investigated Joe Biden do not just introduce the first criminal jeopardy into the cast of characters in the wider Ukraine intrigue. They also present a new moment of political peril for Trump, and raise new questions about the ethics and credibility of the company that he keeps.
The President was quick to distance himself from the two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two late walk-on players in the endless scandals swirling around his presidency.
“I don’t know those gentlemen. Now it’s possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody,” the President told reporters at the White House.
“I don’t know them. I don’t know about them. I don’t know what they do but I don’t know, maybe they were clients of Rudy. You’d have to ask Rudy, I just don’t know.”
A new scandal engulfing the President’s outer orbit involving two men who are key to the Democratic investigation is the last thing the White House needed as polls show that public support for his impeachment and removal is growing.
But Thursday’s indictments also threaten to undermine the core argument that Trump and his closest aides, from Vice President Mike Pence to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have employed, given that the publicly available evidence of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine seem so damning.