Rudy Giuliani has been pushing lately for a role with President Donald Trump's impeachment defense team, according to published reports.
It does not take a shrewd mind to foresee the problems that such an arrangement would bring for Team Trump — even given the fact that the Senate trial now in the making will go in the president's favor.
For starters, it hasn't always been clear at any given moment whose interests the ex-mayor represents.
Just last week, Elliott Abrams, the senior State Department official in charge of Venezuela policy and a former GOP cabinet official, told the Miami Herald that Giuliani was acting on his own when he attempted back-channel diplomacy in a 2018 phone call with Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro.
“I certainly wasn’t aware of anything that happened in 2018,” said Abrams, who joined the Trump administration the following year. “But in terms of 2019, it was not an official channel.”
Creating his own side channel as Trump's "personal attorney" got Giuliani embroiled in the Ukraine affair that's key to the House's impeachment case. But it's not as simple as that.
In both Ukraine and Venezuela, Giuliani has been paid to represent the private interests of businessmen while purportedly defending the president's political interests for free.
Giuliani's alienated former client and associateLev Parnas is under indictment on charges of funneling money from foreign entities to U.S. political candidates. (The Associated Press reported Tuesday night that House Democrats released a trove of documents they obtained from Parnas. The materials show Parnas was in constant communication with Giuliani and Ukrainian officials as he worked as an intermediary, the AP said.)
Meanwhile, Giuliani has his own finances under investigation by the Manhattan U.S. attorney.
Another of Giuliani's clients is a wealthy oil executive with ties to Maduro who figures in a big money-laundering and corruption case involving the Venezuelan regime.
The man's name is Alejandro Betancourt López. He hosted Giuliani at his estate in Spain last summer. Giuliani was in the country to meet with a top aide to the Ukrainian president, according to The Washington Post.
If Giuliani gets a hand in the Senate proceedings, wouldn't he be expected to make sure — before anything else — that he defends his own actions against potential blame or prosecution?
Can anyone be sure his interests are identical to those of the president?
Parnas, who Giuliani escorted into the upper reaches of Trump's world, has strayed so sharply that he's been cooperating with the House Intelligence Committee as it continues to explore the Ukraine mess.
On Monday, Parnas turned over photos, dozens of text messages and thousands of pages of documents to the committee.
Among the items released was a letter from another Trump attorney, Jay Sekulow, saying the president “consents” to another former lawyer of his, John Dowd, representing Parnas and Giuliani associate Igor Fruman.
All this suggests Giuliani may have led Trump into a dubious acquaintance with Parnas that had the potential to backfire on the president.
Even before bidding for a role in the Senate defense, Giuliani faced skepticism within the White House.
Weeks ago, it leaked from the sievelike administration that Attorney General William Barr considers Giuliani a liability. Whether Trump responds to that is unknown.
Giuliani has had clients in Qatar. As with Ukraine, he tried to influence who became the State Department's envoy there.
The ex-mayor isn't in the government, but he lobbied unsuccessfully to become secretary of state shortly after Trump was elected.
As the complications of Giuliani's involvement become more evident, there is still no coherent explanation from the chaotic White House as to what good he's done.