When we left this story, I had explained that two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were conduits for the conspiracy theories Rudy Giuliani has been spreading about Joe Biden and his son Hunter. On Thursday, we learned that both men were arrested at Dulles airport while trying to flee the country. Here’s the report from the Washington Post.
According to the indictment unsealed in New York, Parnas, Fruman and other defendants “conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office so that the defendants could buy potential influence with the candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments.”
I previously noted that a company owned by Parnas and Fruman had received a payment of $1.26 million from the client trust account of a lawyer specializing in real estate and foreign investments. Two days later, they donated $325,000 to a Trump super PAC. Perhaps the pending charges will motivate these two men to spill the beans on the source of those funds.
Meanwhile, Giuliani is getting ready to shift gears by suggesting that we should keep an eye on Romania.
Rudy GIuliani to Sean Hannity: “I want you to keep your eye on Romania. Just watch Romania.” pic.twitter.com/DtcOsdQrjg
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) October 10, 2019
What we’ll be hearing soon from Giuliani is that Hunter Biden advised a Romanian businessman, Gabriel “Puiu” Popoviciu, who was sentenced to seven years in jail for fraud and corruption. But what Giuliani won’t tell us is that he used his position as Trump’s personal lawyer to lobby the Romanian government on Popoviciu’s behalf.
Back in July of 2016, Popoviciu hired the law firm of former FBI Director Louis Freeh to represent him. Then in August 2018, Politico reported that Giuliani had written a letter to the Romanian government criticizing their anti-corruption efforts.
Giuliani’s letter to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis appears to take sides in a fight at the top of the Romanian government over how to rein in high-level corruption.
The former New York mayor’s letter criticizes the “excesses” of Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), contrary to U.S. State Department policy, which has been supportive of the agency’s efforts. Although the missive does not claim to have been sent on President Trump’s authority, Romanian politicians seeking to blunt the power of the DNA have already used it to sow doubt about the U.S. government’s position…
Giuliani calls for an amnesty to be extended “to those who have been prosecuted and convicted through the excesses of the DNA.”
In the letter, Giuliani failed to disclose that he was acting on behalf of a client. But in an attempt to combat the charges that he was using his position as Trump’s lawyer to lobby the Romanian government, he said that he was working for the very law firm that had been hired by Popoviciu.
Giuliani — who regularly appears in the media as a public representative of Trump — told POLITICO Tuesday that his letter “was based on a report I reviewed” by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who runs a global consulting firm called Freeh Group International Solutions. “They are paying my fee,” Giuliani said of the Freeh Group.
A sane person would know that pointing the finger at Hunter Biden’s work for Popoviciu would open up this whole can of worms for Giuliani, adding to the story of how he pals around with some pretty nefarious characters and completely undermining Trump’s talking point about working against government corruption. That’s why it is tempting to question the man’s sanity. But Giuliani’s apparent obsession with the former vice president might have sprung from that moment in the 2008 Democratic primary debate when Biden cleaned his clock.
Regardless of what is motivating Giuliani, it is clear that he continues to bury Trump by doing more harm than good to the president’s case. To borrow Obama’s best debate put-down of Mitt Romney, all I can say is, “Please proceed, Mayor.”