As the House Judiciary Committee takes over the process of impeachment looming over the Trump presidency, one central figure with strong East End ties will almost surely not appear at any hearing, though his actions are close to the core of the allegations. This is a person whom many on the South Fork social scene have sat next to at a benefit or lifted a glass with at an informal dinner. Unlike Paul Manafort, who has family here and had owned a Water Mill house that helped him launder millions in illegal foreign payments, Rudolph Giuliani, a part-time Bridgehampton resident, could be considered a regular on the circuit. How he went from an apparently mild-mannered former New York City mayor and Hamptons summer hobnobber to someone making a mockery of both the legal profession and democracy itself is a matter of speculation.
Some historians of his years in City Hall argue that his authoritarian nature was discernible even then; others say the hothouse of conservative media was to blame. Whatever the origin, what is beyond dispute is that the onetime “America’s mayor” was the chief plotter in what has emerged as the central fact of the impeachment so far.
One sentence in an executive summary released by the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday explains the breach in the simplest terms, as pointed out by Alex Ward on Vox.com and others: The “impeachment inquiry has found that President Trump, personally and acting through agents within and outside of the U.S. government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his re-election.”
Mr. Giuliani is now personally under investigation for potential criminal acts related to his business and financial ties. It was only in October that the F.B.I. and federal prosecutors indicted two men working for him — and, indirectly for the president — Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, on campaign finance charges. The pair also have been implicated in a scheme to get rid of Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, who was seen as a “good cop,” who would not have stood by as the president tried to leverage military aid authorized by Congress and a White House visit for the Ukrainian president to damage former Vice President Joe Biden’s reputation in advance of the Democratic primaries next year. That’s about as wrong an application of presidential power as could be imagined — and one of our neighbors, Rudy Giuliani, is at the heart of it.