If you were having lunch at Trump International Hotel in Washington last Wednesday, you might have noticed the president’s personal attorney, Rudolf Giuliani, dining with a couple of his clients, the Ukrainian operatives Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. And if you had found yourself at Dulles airport a few hours later, you might have seen these two, as they strolled from the first-class lounge to the Lufthansa gate, intercepted by plain-clothed officers. The pair were arrested for attempting to leave the country—they had one-way tickets to Frankfurt—and indicted on criminal charges for allegedly funneling foreign money into U.S. elections. The duo is also accused of being connected to Giuliani’s efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine, smearing Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Bail was set at $1 million for each of these sterling characters.
Meanwhile, Rudy is in hot water. On Friday, the New York Times reported that “federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.” The question now is not if, but when, Trump will throw his old pal under the bus in the same way that he turned his back on his erstwhile attorney Michael Cohen, who now languishes in the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York.
In other news, the White House sent a letter to Democrats on Tuesday stating its total refusal to cooperate with their impeachment inquiry. But their non-cooperation stance already appears shaky. On Friday, former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was unceremoniously yanked from her post by the Trump administration, testified for over eight hours, despite receiving a late-night call from the administration forbidding her to appear. (In answer, the house hurriedly subpoenaed her, and she complied.) It was a closed-door session, but Yovanovitch did release her damning opening remarks: “Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the president, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”
The coming weeks may see a slew of other rebellious testifiers, including Gordon Sondland, the hotel magnate who gave a million dollars to the Trump campaign and was rewarded with being named ambassador to the European Union. Sondland is the author of some of the incriminating text messages exchanged with the current U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; he is scheduled to testify next week.
As if this weren’t drama enough, last Sunday, the White House announced that the U.S. was effectively abandoning our longtime allies in Syria, the Kurds. “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” the administration’s dry statement read. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and the United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.” Yesterday CNN reported that Kurdish General Mazloum Kobani Abdi told William Roebuck, deputy special envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, “You have given up on us. You are leaving us to be slaughtered.”
This unexpected development was met with the harshest criticism the president has received from Republicans yet. Moscow Mitch McConnell stated, “A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the [Bashar al-] Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.” Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, daughter of the notorious Dick, declared that the “news from Syria is sickening”; Trump’s faithful lapdog-slash-golf-buddy Lindsey Graham said, “We destroyed ISIS with the help of the Kurds. We can’t abandon the Kurds now.” Even the reliably right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson was moved to say that he was “absolutely appalled that the United States is going to betray those democratic forces in northern Syria.… The president, who allowed Khashoggi to be cut in pieces without any repercussions whatsoever, is now allowing the Christians and the Kurds to be massacred by the Turks. The president of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven if he permits this to happen.” Undaunted by threats of divine retribution, the White House announced that Turkey’s President Erdoğan will be visiting the White House in November.
Lastly, the president suffered a host of judicial defeats on Friday, with courts ruling against him in matters ranging from extending benefits to green card holders (the government must continue to do so), to forcing him to release his tax returns (he is expected to appeal ASAP). And the rats continue to jump ship: On Friday, Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, announced his resignation; Michael McKinley, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has resigned; and Energy Secretary Rick Perry is said to be stepping down in December. But all this bad news has not made the president any more reflective. In a series of rallies held earlier this week, he accused Nancy Pelosi of hating America; he ruthlessly attacked Hunter Biden, a private citizen who has never been indicted for any crime and plays no role in the upcoming election; he called the impeachment inquiry “bullshit”; and he described Joe Biden as “only a good vice president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.” Last night, spinning even further out of control, he suggested that he was considering suing Pelosi and Adam Schiff: “We’re going to take a look at it. We’re going after these people. These are bad, bad people… Or maybe we should just impeach them, because they’re lying, and what they’re doing is a terrible thing for our country.” Members of Congress cannot be impeached.
Originally Appeared on Vogue