In her Washington Post piece about the lack of coverage for a Trump lawyer writing a manual for his client's failed coup, Margaret Sullivan, noted that "In a normal world, the 'Eastman memo' would be infamous by now, the way Access Hollywood became the popular shorthand in 2016 for the damning recording of Donald Trump’s bragging about groping women. But it’s a good bet that most people have never even heard of the Eastman memo. That says something troubling about how blasé the mainstream press has become about the attempted coup in the aftermath of the 2020 election-- and how easily a coup could succeed next time."
She explained that the memo, unearthed in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book, is a stunner. Written by Trump legal adviser John Eastman-- a serious Establishment Type with Federalist Society cred and a law school deanship under his belt-- it offered Mike Pence, then in his final days as vice president, a detailed plan to declare the 2020 election invalid and give the presidency to Trump. In other words, how to run a coup in six easy steps." But the mainstream media mostly shunned the story to make more room for... a random person, Gabby Petito, who was murdered in Wyoming.
[T]he news coverage wasn’t nearly widespread or prominent enough to make “the Eastman memo” a household name or to strike that legitimate fear into the hearts of citizens. To raise that red alert.
It’s telling that we’ve become so inured to Trump’s flagrant disregard for the will of the electorate. As Robert Kagan wrote last week in a grim opinion piece that did seem to break through the noise, a Trump-fueled constitutional crisis is already upon us, although the warning signs “may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial.”
And still, some dismiss Eastman’s plan as not newsworthy. “After all, it didn’t happen.”
Well, no, it didn’t. But a riot at the Capitol did-- on the same day, fueled by the same autocratic lust.
Eastman’s coup hasn’t happened yet. But given the media’s shrug-off, maybe all we have to do is wait.
Rudy Giuliani's slow witted son, Andrew, made a big splash when he announced he was running for the Republican nomination for governor of New York-- for about 3 days. And then he got zero votes in a straw poll from the state GOP leaders. All the votes went to Lee Zeldin and Rob Astorino. I was wondering if he's still in the race. He is... kind of. He's running on his name ID, or his father's name ID. That may wind up hurting him badly.
This week Peter Stone, reporting for New York Magazine, wrote that the father "is (probably) screwed" and may actually flip against Trump. Stone noted that few political figures have fallen farther and harder than Giuliani. "On the eve of September 11-- the 20th anniversary of the day that catapulted him into national renown-- Fox News told him that he had been banned from appearing on the network, likely because Giuliani had helped land Fox in hot water for claiming that two election-technology companies had helped rig the election in favor of Joe Biden. Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic have since filed separate billion-dollar defamation lawsuits against both Fox and Giuliani, who is embroiled in so many costly legal shenanigans these days that he has apparently resorted to selling personalized video greetings over the service Cameo for a few hundred dollars a pop. On top of that, his law license was suspended in New York and Washington, D.C., after he repeatedly lied to courts and in public statements to help Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election results with baseless charges of widespread fraud. He is reportedly 'aghast' that Trump has declined to help him out financially, despite the fact that Giuliani, as Trump’s onetime personal lawyer, had been his fiercest henchman. Giuliani has gotten so desperate that his allies launched a Rudy Giuliani Freedom Fund, replete with an endorsement from tarnished lawyer Alan Dershowitz, that blasts 'deep state' forces for Giuliani’s legal morass."
Giuliani is being treated, by all appearances, as a dead man walking. America’s Mayor, as he was once known, has been abandoned by his most powerful friend. He has lost his megaphone at Fox News and is now going around with a begging bowl for money. And at the center of Giuliani’s legal troubles is a web of overlapping federal investigations, including a criminal probe focusing on him personally, which some experts say could force him to yield to prosecutors in a case that may implicate the former president.
“Giuliani is facing a set of challenges unlike anything he’s dealt with before,” Michael Bromwich, a former inspector general at the Justice Department, told me. “The extremely serious criminal investigation that could send him to jail, the civil suits that could bankrupt him, the disbarment proceedings that may well end any opportunity to practice law ever again-- it’s a tidal wave of problems with potentially devastating personal and professional consequences.”
Bromwich added, “It’s hard to think of any analogous case where a person who once rode so high-- as a prosecutor, a New York mayor, a serious presidential candidate, and an international figure-- has been brought so low in so many ways and where the damage has been entirely self-inflicted.”
If Trump’s conspiratorial crusade against the phantom of election fraud ensnared Giuliani in potentially ruinous civil lawsuits, it was Trump’s unscrupulous campaign against Joe Biden and his son Hunter that goaded Giuliani into consorting with the shady operators who are now in the crosshairs of American criminal prosecutors. One of those men, Ukrainian-born Lev Parnas, is due to be tried on October 12 on charges of making illegal campaign donations from a foreign source. Another Soviet-born operator, Igor Fruman, pleaded guilty in September to the same offense. Parnas and Fruman, who have lived in Florida for some time, were key allies in helping Giuiani dig up dirt on the Bidens in Ukraine in the run-up to the 2020 election.
Giuliani has not yet been charged with any crimes. Nor has he been implicated in the illegal-donation schemes that led authorities to nab Parnas and Fruman. Rather, the criminal inquiry into Giulani is focused on whether Trump’s former lawyer, during his sprawling fishing expedition with Parnas, Fruman, and others in Ukraine, violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a decades-old law that requires people who lobby the U.S. government on behalf of foreign officials or entities to disclose their activities to the Justice Department. Giuliani may also have legal headaches stemming from separate federal fraud charges against Parnas and a federal investigation into a Ukrainian politician suspected of meddling in the 2020 election.
“As Giuliani looks over the landscape he faces, it appears there are legal storm clouds in three separate matters, all of which could have potentially serious consequences for him,” said Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor.
While we have grown accustomed to members of Trumpworld being mired in lawsuits, it is worth underscoring that Giuliani is confronting extreme levels of legal and financial risk-- and he has few, if any, good options. “The emotional and financial pressure of a single long-term federal white-collar investigation can take a crippling toll on any target of such an investigation,” said Paul Pelletier, a former acting chief of the Justice Department’s fraud section. “Enduring multiple investigations, in addition to bar disciplinary actions and financial pressures, creates an enormous incentive to alleviate that pressure in some way. The only logical ways I know of are to plead guilty, cooperate, or both.”
...“If past is prologue, the search warrants conducted on the phones and electronic devices of Giuliani and his associates should soon begin bearing a cornucopia of fruit,” Pelletier told me. “That type of electronic evidence typically reveals compelling evidence of the criminal scheme outlined in the search-warrant affidavit. If and when that happens, the walls should close in pretty quickly on Mr. Giuliani and any identified criminal cohorts.”
The FBI also seized other electronic devices from the Washington, D.C., residence of conservative lawyer Victoria Toensing. A Giuliani ally, Toensing had a $1 million contract in tandem with her lawyer husband, Joe diGenova, to represent a billionaire Ukrainian oligarch, Dmytro Firtash, who had aided Giuliani’s Ukraine gambit, according to news reports.
...Judging from Parnas’s past public statements, too, the probe of Giuliani is serious. During Trump’s impeachment, Parnas made no secret in interviews that he took his cues from Giuliani and Trump as they tried zealously to find current and former officials in Ukraine to blemish Biden, linking his actions as vice-president under Barack Obama to Hunter’s Ukraine gig.
Parnas told Rachel Maddow in early 2020, “I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.” Parnas stressed that high-level officials in Ukraine would have ignored him unless it was clear that he was their emissary. “That’s the secret” Trump administration officials were “trying to keep,” he said. “I was on the ground doing their work.”
During Trump’s impeachment, Parnas and his lawyer gave House investigators a trove of potentially incriminating materials, including a video of Parnas and Fruman dining with Trump at a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser in April 2018 and a photo of the two Giuliani pals dining with Donald Trump Jr. and a top Republican National Committee official at a swanky Beverly Hills hotel in 2019. Parnas has suggested the photos and other documents support his claim that Trump “knew exactly what was going on.” In response, Trump has said that he barely knew him.
Parnas and Fruman have been accused by the feds of making several illegal donations, including a $325,000 check to a pro-Trump Super PAC that was written not long after the two men attended a small dinner at Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel on April 30, 2018, for PAC donors. There, they chatted with Trump, an encounter that Fruman recorded. Parnas raised dark concerns about the loyalty of the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, Marie Yovanovitch, that quickly prompted Trump to ask a nearby White House aide to “take her out”-- which Trump did about a year later when he yanked her from the Kiev post. Her ouster was a key focus of Trump’s first impeachment and has reportedly figured in the Giuliani probe. Giuliani told The New Yorker in 2019, “I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way. She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody” by frustrating his attempts to get help from Ukrainian sources.
Former Justice Department officials see more trouble ahead. Gerry Hebert, who spent more than two decades as a senior lawyer in the voting-rights section at the department, said, “Parnas’s likely conviction may lead to his cooperation before he’s sentenced to prison … With his personal freedom at stake, the walls are closing in on more than just Giuliani’s legal career.”
...In late June, a New York appeals court suspended Giuliani from practicing law in the state on account of the serial false comments he made during his obsessive campaign to get courts to block Trump’s loss in the election. In its ruling, the court said Giuliani’s “misconduct cannot be overstated. This country is being torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden.” A Washington, D.C., court followed New York’s actions with its own suspension order, and permanent disbarment in New York seems a real possibility.
“The decision by the New York court to suspend Giuliani’s law license could be a very bad omen for Giuliani in the Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic defamation lawsuits,” Zeldin, the former prosecutor, told me. The court found that “there is uncontroverted evidence” that Giuliani “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020.” As Zeldin noted, “These are the issues at the heart of the defamation actions.”
In August, a federal judge ruled against Giuliani’s attempt to dismiss the Dominion lawsuit. A lawyer for Giuliani last month said that he still believes some of his claims about fraud remain “substantially true.”
...One problem for Giuliani is that prosecutors have extra motivation in pursuing him, given the zealous lengths he has gone to undermine the democratic system that the Justice Department is supposed to protect. “Giuliani has made himself a very attractive target for prosecutors, because of who he is and what he’s done,” said Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor. “Prosecutors may view taking down Giuliani as a significant career achievement.”
Gillers added, “Giuliani has more than embarrassed the department. He’s betrayed what they hold dear, and that’s a motivating factor for going after him, if the proof is there.”
But there is no one that Giuliani has embarrassed more than himself. “It appears that Rudy Giuliani’s world is collapsing around him,” veteran GOP operative Charlie Black told me. “That is really sad. He was a national hero after his service to New York City, but getting tangled up with Donald Trump has brought a lot of trouble to Rudy.”