Before he became mayor of New York City — and indeed, lost a close election for the office in one of the most Democrat cities in America back in 1989 — as well as the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani made his name as a successful mob prosecutor.
This wasn’t an easy job in New York City, and not just because the mob is known to, as John Gotti might have said, fix leaky pipes. It had to do with the fact that obvious leaky-pipe fixers (and committers of various other criminal activities) were known to get acquittals in federal court — sometimes by hook or by crook, but often because they could afford famous lawyers like William Kuntsler and Bruce Cutler.
“I think I’ll stand on my record as having prosecuted or put in prison more members of the Mafia than probably any U.S. attorney in history, having been threatened with death by them at least three times — four times seriously going back to when I was an assistant U.S. attorney,” Giuliani said in 2000, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In fact, he did enough that the Sicilian Mafia plotted to kill him.
So, perhaps you don’t buy Giuliani’s argument that Joe Biden and his son Hunter were involved in criminal activity in Ukraine. After all, he is Donald Trump’s counsel. However, given Rudy’s history, you would be ill-advised not to listen to him at all.
That just became a little easier, as Giuliani has launched his own impeachment-related podcast (which isn’t exactly news). Pretty much every publication and every person remotely associated with politics has an impeachment-related podcast nowadays — GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, Vox impresario Ezra Klein, former Breitbart head and White House mover-and-shaker Steve Bannon and NPR’s Brian Lehrer all are in on the game.
What makes Giuliani’s podcast unusual is that he’s the president’s lawyer — and, in episode two, posted Friday, he made a point using mob prosecution experience, using perhaps the most famous sentence in Biden’s Ukrainian repertoire: the one where he talks about withholding money from Ukraine unless they fired a prosecutor who was allegedly corrupt and had not-so-allegedly investigated Burisma, the company that employed Hunter Biden, for corruption.
“I said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden said at a 2018 event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations. “Well, son of a b—-, he got fired.”
That was, to most people, a blatant conflict of interest for a then-vice president. To Giuliani, that was bribery.
“Let me first give you the definition of the crime of bribery,” Giuliani said. “Corruptly offering something of value in exchange for official action. That’s the definition under the United States Code.”
He also noted that’s “pretty much the universal definition, including in the country of Ukraine.”
And Biden’s words, according to Giuliani, are why Biden is guilty of bribery — and he managed to do it in just one sentence. “If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.”
“‘If the prosecutor is not fired’ is the official action,” Giuliani said. “‘You’re not getting the money’ is something of value that’s put at stake.
“That’s the crime of bribery, and all you need to add is corruptly, and I’ll show you that very simply how we do that.”
Giuliani noted that this could be extortion instead of bribery since it involved a threat and that Biden said the Ukrainians “put in place someone who was solid at the time.”
“He sure was solid,” Giuliani said. “Because ultimately the case on his son, the case on his son’s crooked boss, who stole $5 billion — I said $5 billion — and his son’s corrupt company, Burisma, just went away.”
There’s no evidence that Hunter Biden was involved in this corruption, mind you, and the prosecutor who was fired wasn’t actively investigating Burisma at the time he was fired, but the oligarch in question was able to return to the Ukraine in part thanks to the fact that there wasn’t any threat of an investigation anymore.
So, the question is, is this extortion and/or bribery? That’s a very loaded question and also one nobody’s going to pursue legally at the moment.
Is it something that the president is going to use in his reelection campaign?
You’d better believe it.
One of the most curious things about Biden’s race for the Democratic nomination is that no one has brought up the fact that the very act of him demanding the firing the Ukrainian prosecutor constituted, at the very least, a conflict of interest. Very well. I suppose that merely bringing it up would legitimize the allegations against the Bidens being leveled by the Trump administration.
But perhaps it’ll get brought up as the race gets nastier. Perhaps it won’t. One thing’s for sure, though: An interpretation of what Joe Biden did in Ukraine that’s a lot worse is going to be brought up during the general election if Biden manages to get the nomination.
And it’s going to be made in part by a guy who knows a lot about organized crime, given that he prosecuted it — with unusual success — for the first part of his career.
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