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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Rudy Giuliani may be drifting from enabler to target over Ukraine

Rudy Giuliani, a personal lawyer to President Donald

Rudy Giuliani, a personal lawyer to President Donald Trump, at Trump's golf course in Bedminster, N.J., in Nov. 2016, shortly after Trump was elected 45th president of the United States. Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster

Suddenly President Donald Trump's private-sector lawyer-fixer Rudy Giuliani looks like he may be headed for a special place under the proverbial bus, either politically or legally.

Last week, a Trump nominee facing Senate confirmation put the onus on the former mayor for his irregular push to oust Marie Yovanovitch as Ukraine ambassador.

Investigators have been asking if Yovanovitch was targeted and removed for resisting the drive to help produce dirt on Trump's domestic rivals.

"My knowledge … about any involvement of Mr. Giuliani was in connection with a campaign against our ambassador to Ukraine," Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who's nominated for U.S. Ambassador to Russia, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "I can't offer a judgment that what he did was kosher or correct … because I'm not sure exactly what he was up to in toto with respect to Ukraine."

Giuliani tweeted hours later that Sullivan, "doesn't know what he's talking about and shouldn't be incorrectly speculating ... This is an orchestrated attempt to harass and hinder me in my role as @realdonaldtrump's attorney."

Others in Trump's circle appear to hold a dim view of Giuliani's performance.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cannot love hearing a snarky public attack on a member of his government team.

John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser until recently, was quoted during congressional testimony as calling Giuliani "a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”

Attorney General William Barr has let it be known he disliked Trump's coupling him with Giuliani in the famous July 25 phone conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

During the chat, Trump referred Zelensky to Barr and Giuliani on the matter of turning up a Democratic computer server that may or may not even exist. He offered the pair's services in helping out.

Now Barr's Justice Department is investigating Giuliani's finances. CNN reports that prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan are mindful of the timing, given the 2020 election and the difficulty in prosecuting alleged foreign lobbying violations. Giuliani reportedly is looking for a defense attorney.

The ex-mayor has tangled ties to his now-indicted business associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Giuliani told Reuters news service that a Parnas entity called Fraud Guarantee paid his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, $500,000 for business and regulatory advice.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Fraud Guarantee has no identifiable customers, generated zero returns for investors and even once defaulted on its office lease after falling behind on rent.

Parnas and Fruman are charged with improperly funneling foreign funds into American campaign accounts. They also aided Giuliani in targeting the Bidens through their connections in Ukraine.

As the House impeachment inquiry heats up, one can foresee Trump's spin team crafting a new narrative, if needed, about Giuliani prodding or manipulating Trump into the sleazy Ukraine gambit.

For now, Giuliani retains the unusual clout to publicly slam a Trump nominee without blowback. Depending on circumstance, that privilege may not last.

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