Rudy Giuliani sits at the center of cronyism run amok in the Trump presidency

Rudy Giuliani sits at the center of cronyism run amok in the Trump presidency.

by Kaylee McGhee · October 7, 2019
Believe it or not, there’s at least one person more inept, self-interested, and shortsighted than President Trump: his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

It’s no wonder Giuliani has been roped into yet another crony bargain struck in Ukraine, this one involving a gas company. Key Trump allies — two of whom used to be Giuliani’s clients and the other a good friend of his — attempted to use their connections to Giuliani and Trump to install new management in Naftogatz, a state-owned gas company. The goal was to steer contracts toward business they owned or had investments in, according to the Associated Press.

It’s unclear how big a role Giuliani played in the effort. But it is clear that Giuliani had a personal connection to the three businessmen involved: Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two former Soviets who work as Florida real estate entrepreneurs, and Harry Sargeant III, a Florida oil mogul.

Giuliani reportedly helped these men set up meetings with Ukrainian government officials, and he admittedly encouraged Trump to fire the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who had a long history of rooting out corruption in Eastern Europe. It now seems that Parnas, Fruman, and Sargeant knew that Trump was going to recall Yovanovitch beforehand, according to sources who spoke to the AP.

The situation looks a lot worse for Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who appears to have played a more instrumental role in pushing U.S. business instruments onto Ukraine’s plate. But Giuliani’s involvement shouldn’t go unnoticed. He’s proven that he’s all too eager to thrust himself into U.S. foreign policy, often without permission or authority. And Giuliani isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty if he believes it’ll help further Trump’s political interests.

We already know Ukrainian officials viewed Giuliani as a direct conduit to Trump, so the idea that he would set himself up as the go-to guy between Trump allies in the United States and Ukrainian government officials isn’t outlandish. Indeed, the businessmen at the center of this gas company scandal attempted to use Giuliani’s celebrity status in Ukraine as leverage.

“Giuliani has long been seen as an extension of Trump, some mythical link to the U.S.,” Nickolay Kapitonenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian Parliament’s Foreign Policy Committee, told the Wall Street Journal. “So many officials think that contact or even a picture with Giuliani might be helpful for their careers. I’m not sure that’s the case but that’s the perception.”

This isn’t the first time Giuliani has been accused of crony business dealings. Over the past decade, Giuliani’s list of sketchy clients and million dollar contracts has rightfully drawn criticism from those who argue there’s a blatant conflict of interest, given Giuliani’s active role in U.S. politics. But that’s the problem with Giuliani: He can’t separate the personal from the professional, and the result has been constant damage control in the Trump administration.

If Trump were smart, he’d toss Giuliani over the side. But he won’t, because he values Giuliani’s loyalty too much. It’s too bad that loyalty has brought Trump to the brink of impeachment. And in the end, Trump will discover that Giuliani was only loyal to one person: himself.

Washington Examiner · by Kaylee McGhee · October 7, 2019

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