Trump panics, accidentally hires alleged co-conspirator as his lawyer


At least Rudy Giuliani can commiserate with Trump about the pressure of facing an FBI investigation.

In his frenzy to find a lawyer — any lawyer — willing to join his crumbling legal team, Trump seems to have gotten confused and hired one of his alleged co-conspirators instead.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Rudy Giuliani has joined the team of lawyers defending Trump in the ongoing Russia investigation.

Giuliani apparently hopes he can convince special counsel Robert Mueller to bring the investigation to an end within "a couple of weeks," CNN's Dana Bash reported.

It's unclear, however, if Giuliani is hoping to end the Russia probe on behalf of Trump — or to save his own skin.

An outspoken supporter of Trump since the earliest days of his candidacy, Giuliani found himself facing scrutiny from investigators for his alleged involvement in events surrounding the FBI's reopening of its investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.

In October 2016, Giuliani went on "Fox and Friends" and hinted that he had something up his sleeve that would mean bad news for Clinton.

"We got a couple of surprises left," Giuliani said. "I call them surprises in the way that we’re going to campaign to get our message out there. Maybe in a little bit of a different way and you’ll see and I think it will be enormously effective. And I do think that all of these revelations about Hillary Clinton finally are beginning to have an impact."

Although he didn't specifically mention Clinton's emails at the time, he confirmed a short time later that he was referring to the reopening of the email investigation.

Three days after Giuliani's appearance on Fox News, then-FBI Director James Comey announced that the bureau was reopening its investigation into Clinton's email server.

While Giuliani would later deny any involvement in making the information public, he acknowledged that he had been privy to information leaked from the FBI. Leaks such as this were reportedly a key factor in Comey's decision to bypass FBI protocol regarding announcements that could affect elections and disclose the newly discovered emails to Congress.

Giuliani's admission that he had advanced knowledge of the Clinton email probe ultimately put him in the crosshairs of the FBI.

In May, Comey announced that the bureau was looking into whether FBI employees leaked information about the investigation into Clinton’s emails to members of Trump’s campaign team, including Giuliani.

Speaking to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday night, Comey confirmed that Giuliani's comments had prompted the FBI to launch the investigation into potential leaks out of the New York field office.

Just six days after he announced that the FBI was looking into the leaks, Comey was fired by Trump.

The results of that investigation have not yet been made been public, so Giuliani's role in the scandal remains unknown. However, a recent Reuters report indicates that we may soon have some answers, when the findings of a DOJ Inspector General's probe are released next month — and based on what authorities told Reuters, Giuliani may be the next one looking for a lawyer.

"The report also is expected to address whether active and retired FBI agents in New York leaked information about investigations of the Clinton Foundation charitable organization and the discovery of a trove of Clinton-related emails," Reuters reports. "Law enforcement officials previously told Reuters the information was leaked to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an adviser to the Trump campaign who subsequently discussed the contents on Fox News."

But that's not Giuliani's only connection to the Russia probe.

According to the Daily Beast, Giuliani tried to broker a prisoner exchange last year between the U.S. and Turkey on behalf of his client, Reza Zarrab, a Turkish businessman accused of facilitating a money laundering scheme as part of a plot to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Zarrab ended up striking a plea deal with U.S. prosecutors in November, leading to speculation that he may be cooperating with Mueller's probe. If those reports are true, that would mean Giuliani's current client (Trump) is the subject of an investigation in which a former client (Zarrab) is a cooperating witness.

And it doesn't end there.

As the Daily Beast noted, Zarrab’s cooperation with Mueller could have major implications for Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who allegedly plotted to help free Zarrab on behalf of Turkish officials. While the deal never panned out, Flynn was supposedly offered $15 million to secure Zarrab’s release, and to kidnap exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen from his home in Pennsylvania and deliver him to Turkey.

Mueller is reportedly investigating the convoluted plan, and Zarrab is widely thought to be a cooperating witness.

So not only has Giuliani allegedly come under scrutiny in the Russia probe, but his former client may actually be a key witness — and now, Giuliani will be representing Trump in that very same investigation.

In a statement announcing Giuliani's hire, Trump praised his longtime ally and publicly expressed his desire for the Russia probe to come to an end.

"Rudy is great," Trump said. "He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country."

Giuliani has good reason to want to wrap up the investigation — but just like Trump, "the good of the country" has nothing to do with it.