Memo to Donald Trump: Throw Rudy Giuliani under a bus.
Everything’s going wrong for the White House right now. We just had a Trump-appointed ambassador telling the impeachment hearing that there was indeed a quid pro quo in Ukraine, and everybody knew it.
Most of the Democrats’ witnesses seem both sympathetic and believable. The Republicans produced a diplomat who instantly started telling the room what a terrific, honorable guy Joe Biden is.
And no fair saying this is boring. Tell me you yawned when Wednesday’s star witness described telling Trump that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky “loves your ass.”
European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified that he was just putting his message in “Trump-speak.” It turns out “loves your ass” translates into “would really work with us on a whole host of issues.”
See? Every day there’s a new nugget.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine a whole lot of minds are left to be changed by the current proceedings. Trump’s aides have presumably figured out that making fun of embattled public servants or Purple Heart recipients is not going to pay off.
Why not just blame everything on Rudy? It wouldn’t change the trajectory of the story, but it would cheer up everybody’s Thanksgiving dinner.
And it’s fair. When it comes to bad news in Ukraine, Rudy Giuliani is everywhere. Some of our diplomats seem to see much more of the president’s personal lawyer than they do of the secretary of state.
“Talk to Rudy,” Trump told a delegation that had just returned from Ukraine.
“I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call,” he said in that famous July 25 conversation with Zelensky.
And it goes on and on. Sondland said he, former envoy Kurt Volker and Rick Perry “worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the United States. We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. … We followed the president’s orders.”
We have to stop here for just one minute to note that Volker, Sondland and Perry, who were supposed to be keeping an eye on Ukraine for the administration, were known as “the three amigos.” “I am a proud part of the three amigos,” Sondland said during his testimony.
“That is the same thing Ambassador Volker said yesterday,” Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, responded.
That was sort of interesting — in part because it was one of the relatively few times Nunes managed to complete a sentence without crying, “Identify the whistle-blower!” or “Hunter Biden!”
Also because Volker actually said the nickname made him “cringe.” He believes “three amigos” should only refer to the glorious bipartisan Senate trio of John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. Now, of course, McCain has passed away, Lieberman is a lobbyist for a Chinese telecom company and Graham is Donald Trump’s lap puppy. So the cringy thing really could make sense.
The rest of the world thinks about an old so-bad-it’s-good movie with Chevy Chase, Martin Short and Steve Martin. If there’s a remake, who plays the Chevy Chase role? Rick Perry?
Back to Rudy: Sondland said the Trump amigos hated working with Giuliani, but he was the only person who could get President Zelensky a meeting at the White House. The diplomats who testified really did seem concerned about helping Ukraine out. Sure, some of them got the job via a million-dollar political donation and then spent way too much refurbishing their official residence. (Looking at you, Mr. S.) Still.
If Trump wants to change the conversation for a minute, he should definitely turn on Giuliani. Almost everybody has come to realize how horrible Rudy is, although some innocent souls remember him from his glory days running New York City after 9/11.
“I only know him as New York’s finest mayor,” said Alexander Vindman, a rather sweet, nerdy military officer who served as one of the stars of the week in Washington. Irritated Republicans looking for a way to undermine his testimony had to stoop to criticizing the lieutenant colonel for wearing his uniform.
Vindman had clearly not heard about Giuliani’s decision, before the attack, to put the city’s emergency command center into the already-bombed-once World Trade Center because he wanted it to be within walking distance of City Hall. Or his nine million sexual escapades, which have dwindled from sort-of-shocking to really-really-depressing as he’s aged and gone more untethered.
This story is never going to start looking better for Donald Trump. Ukraine will follow him everywhere — through impeachment, into the Senate hearings, and if nothing saves us from the fate, on to the 2020 campaign.
And we all know our president will never blame himself for anything. So why not Rudy? At least we’d get rid of one awful self-obsessed New Yorker in the White House.
A reporter from The Guardian recently asked Giuliani about his under-the-bus prospects. Rudy said he had “insurance” that would protect him.
“He’s joking,” his lawyer said quickly. Yes, the president’s lawyer needs a lawyer.
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