The Corner

World

There’s an Obvious Problem with Rudy Giuliani’s Spin on Ukraine

Rudy Giuliani speaks at the 2018 Iran Freedom Convention in Washington, D.C., May 5, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

We still don’t know the details of a whistleblower complaint that is “said” to involve Trump’s dealings with the new Ukrainian government, but we are learning of alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. Chris Cuomo’s interview with Giuliani last night was truly wild. You can watch it here, but Giuliani first denies then admits asking Ukraine to investigate matters related to the Bidens:

Then, later today, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump himself “repeatedly pressed” the new Ukrainian government to investigate Hunter Biden:

President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ’s son, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on a probe, according to people familiar with the matter.

“He told him that he should work with [Mr. Giuliani] on Biden, and that people in Washington wanted to know” whether allegations were true or not, one of the people said. Mr. Trump didn’t mention a provision of foreign aid to Ukraine on the call, said this person, who didn’t believe Mr. Trump offered the Ukrainian president any quid-pro-quo for his cooperation on any investigation.

The president’s defenders are rightly emphasizing the lack of evidence (so far) of any express quid pro quo tying vital aid to Ukraine to an investigation of Trump’s political opponents, but there’s a key detail in the story above that undermines the notion that these eight alleged requests reflect the proper exercise of presidential diplomacy. This same key detail undermines Giuliani’s spin. Here’s Giuliani, earlier today:

But is Trump “doing his job” when he’s asking the “corrupt country” to work with his own personal counsel? Is it right for the president’s personal counsel to press an allied nation to investigate the president’s political opponents? Trump’s alleged request that Ukraine work with his personal counsel raises the issue of a potential personal political favor — at the same time that vital foreign aid to Ukraine was on the line. There is not a Republican alive who would find it acceptable for a Democratic president to press a foreign country to work with his personal lawyer to investigate a domestic political rival.

There is a pressing need for lawmakers to be informed of the substance of the whistleblower’s complaint — and to seek evidence that corroborates or refutes his account. And while the Wall Street Journal report is disturbing, it’s also important to note that it’s based in large part on anonymous sourcing. While Giuliani’s admitted efforts to spur a Ukrainian investigation are now widely known, we don’t yet know the whole truth (or anything close to the whole truth).

It’s time to get to the whole truth. Congress should hear the whistleblower’s complaint, let’s have a full accounting of the administration’s actions, and let’s also get a complete accounting of the Bidens’ actions in Ukraine. The president’s potential abuses of power don’t render the former vice president or his son immune from accountability for their own conflicts of interest or any other impropriety. My colleague Michael Brendan Dougherty made the correct call today. “On Ukraine, just the facts, please.”

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Most Popular

White House

More Evidence the Guardrails Are Gone

At the end of last month, just as the news of the Ukraine scandal started dominating the news cycle, I argued that we're seeing evidence that the guardrails that staff had placed around Donald Trump's worst instincts were in the process of breaking down. When Trump's staff was at its best, it was possible to draw ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Honest

If you want to run for office, political consultants will hammer away at one point: Tell stories. People respond to stories. We’ve been a story-telling species since our fur-clad ancestors gathered around campfires. Don’t cite statistics. No one can remember statistics. Make it human. Make it relatable. ... Read More
National Review

Farewell

Today is my last day at National Review. It's an incredibly bittersweet moment. While I've only worked full-time since May, 2015, I've contributed posts and pieces for over fifteen years. NR was the first national platform to publish my work, and now -- thousands of posts and more than a million words later -- I ... Read More
Economy & Business

Andrew Yang, Snake Oil Salesman

Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur and gadfly, has definitely cleared the bar for a successful cause candidate. Not only has he exceeded expectations for his polling and fundraising, not only has he developed a cult following, not only has he got people talking about his signature idea, the universal basic ... Read More
World

Is America Becoming Sinicized?

A little over 40 years ago, Chinese Communist strongman and reformer Deng Xiaoping began 15 years of sweeping economic reforms. They were designed to end the disastrous, even murderous planned economy of Mao Zedong, who died in 1976. The results of Deng’s revolution astonished the world. In four decades, ... Read More