Wednesday, November 27, 2019


The Atlantic's Elaina Plott reports that many Republicans wish Rudy Giuliani would go away.
Over the past week, I asked multiple GOP officials when, if ever, they thought President Donald Trump would publicly distance himself from his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who is at the center of the House impeachment inquiry. Their responses were eerily similar: “Can it be two years ago?” asked one White House official who, like others, requested anonymity in order to be candid. “Ideally three years ago,” responded a senior House GOP aide. Finally, a senior Senate GOP aide: “Can he do it yesterday?”

... Republicans—whether stationed in the White House or Congress, whether sympathetic to Reagan-era conservatism or its present-day iteration—agree on one thing: Giuliani has got to go.
Yet they don't believe Giuliani is going away -- Trump appreciates his friendship and his loyalty too much.

I mocked Giuliani in my last post, but it could be argued that he's actually helping Trump right now.

I'm reading the inevitable wave of articles suggesting that a week of public impeachment hearings hasn't changed public opinion. It's not just that pro-Trump voters don't believe the allegations against the president -- it's also that voters in the middle have been successfully bamboozled, and are now in a state of confusion, like this voter AP found in Wisconsin.
Nicole Morrison, a 36-year-old nurse who can’t see herself voting for Trump in 2020, had a [negative] review [of the hearings].

“There’s so much information that sometimes it’s hard to decide which is the truth and which is just rumors,” she said. “So I just don’t pay attention to it.”
As Democrats try to explain why the president should be impeached, no one has been working harder to devise counternarratives. Much of the public now thinks there are two equally plausible stories of Ukraine-related corruption, either of which could be true, and in one of which Trump and Giuliani are brave crime fighters. Rudy isn't solely responsible for this state of affairs, but he deserves a lot of the credit (or blame).

In addition, Giuliani's criminality may actually be helping Trump. Remember, the Ukraine story was supposed to be uncomplicated, linear, and therefore easy for the public to understand. Giuliani just keeps making it more complicated.
President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, negotiated this year to represent Ukraine’s top prosecutor for at least $200,000 during the same months that Giuliani was working with the prosecutor to dig up dirt on former vice president Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The people said that Giuliani began negotiations with Ukraine’s [then-]top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, about a possible agreement in February. In the agreement, Giuliani’s company would receive payment to represent Lutsenko as the Ukrainian sought to recover assets he believed had been stolen from the government in Kyiv, those familiar with the discussions said.
As Rudolph W. Giuliani waged a public campaign this year to unearth damaging information in Ukraine about President Trump’s political rivals, he privately pursued hundreds of thousands of dollars in business from Ukrainian government officials, documents reviewed by The New York Times show.

Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, has repeatedly said he has no business in Ukraine, and none of the deals were finalized. But the documents indicate that while he was pushing Mr. Trump’s agenda with Ukrainian officials eager for support from the United States, Mr. Giuliani also explored financial agreements with members of the same government.
And that's just today. I know that for anyone who's following the twists and turns of Ukrainegate with relative ease, it would seem obvious that any suggestion of criminality in Trump's circle casts Trump himself in a bad light.

But I don't think it works that way for undecided low-information voters in the middle. They just see a puzzling story with an ungainly cast of characters, many of them with tongue-twister Slavic names, and now it's becoming more puzzling and more ungainly. They see international men of mystery doing business with other international men of mystery -- who can tell what's sleazy and what isn't? Please note that Trump's own business dealings have been repeatedly shown to be sleazy and corrupt, and the public doesn't care. Please also note that even the success Republicans are having in promoting their smears of the Biden family aren't hurting Joe Biden's poll numbers much at all, so it may just be that the public expects a certain level of corruption from public figures.

I realize this a contrarian take. I don't expect you to agree with it. All I can say is please don't underestimate the difficulty voters in the middle are having making sense of the Ukraine story, and please don't assume that everyone finds it fun or compelling to follow. It's a muddle for a lot of people, and Giuliani is working hard to keep it that way.

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