Skip to main content

‘Obvious Campaign Felony’: Giuliani Faces ‘Clear Criminal Liability’ Over Business Deals, Law Prof Says


Rudy Giuliani leveraged his “pro bono” legal work as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney to negotiate business deals with foreign government officials in Ukraine worth between $200,000-$300,000, according to reports from the Washington Post and the New York Times on Wednesday.

According to these reports, while working with “corrupt” former Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko to dig up, or concoct, damaging information on Joe Biden, Giuliani was also negotiating a private business deal to represent Lutsenko in recovering money he believed had been stolen from the Ukrainian government.

While no money was ultimately exchanged, the negotiations advanced far enough that Giuliani drafted several contracts in which the former New York City mayor would either work directly for Lutsenko or the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice.

Fordham Law professor Jed Shugerman responded to the latest news by saying Giuliani faces “clear criminal liability.”

“Obvious campaign felony by [Giuliani] & the lawyers negotiating these contracts to coordinate manufacturing dirt on Biden,” Shugerman wrote, adding, “timing of a $200K contract at precisely the moment Giuliani is pushing for Biden dirt is evidence of Giuliani’s private coordination, not US official diplomacy/public anti-corruption.”

“Clear criminal liability,” Shugerman wrote, noting the conduct was remarkably similar to what led to federal charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates. “They did it in 2016. A new team tried to do it again in 2020.”

Giuliani is under the watchful eye of the Southern District of New York, and recent reporting indicates a wide net has been cast.

“A U.S. ambassador was recalled so that Rudy Giuliani could get a client – even if there weren’t signed contracts here, Rudy Giuliani was doing business development by showing Lutsenko how far he could work on behalf of his client,” national security analyst Samantha Vinograd said during an appearance on CNN Wednesday. “This speaks to why we need U.S. government officials advising the President. Rudy Giuliani just walked into the Oval Office, and we don’t even know if he told President Trump that he had these conflicts of interest.”

In an interview earlier this month with the publication Ukrainian Truth, Lutsenko confirmed that Giuliani told him it was “impossible” for the then-prosecutor general to even get a meeting with the U.S. attorney general unless he hired Giuliani to lobby on his behalf for a monetary fee.

Lutsenko was also a vocal opponent of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Giuliani’s role in Yovanovitch’s termination has been under the microscope.

“If you were gonna tell this story about the whole Ukraine scandal, chapter one would be Rudy Giuliani aligning with corrupt prosecutors like Lutsenko to get rid of Amb. Maria Yovanovitch,” former federal prosecutor Elie Honig also said Wednesday on CNN. “She made her name as an anti-corruption crusader, she took on Lutsenko in Ukraine. They knew if they wanted to get anything done here, she had to go, and that’s the original sin that kicked off this whole scandal.”

[Image via Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.