Updated at 3:48 p.m. on October 10, 2019.
If the president’s fundamental defense against impeachment is that there’s nothing to see here and people should move along, Thursday morning was not a good day for the president.
As The Wall Street Journal first reported, two men who assisted in Rudy Giuliani’s investigations in Ukraine on behalf of Donald Trump were arrested Wednesday night. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, both Soviet-born, naturalized American citizens, had been asked to testify to Congress today and Friday in connection with the impeachment inquiry into Trump; they were apprehended at Dulles Airport, outside of Washington, D.C., trying to leave the country on one-way tickets. Congress has now issued subpoenas to them as well.
The details of the allegations against Parnas and Fruman are arcane, but the big picture is not: Two men who were helping the president’s supposed anti-corruption scheme in Ukraine have now been arrested and charged with federal crimes.
In a letter to House Democrats last week, attorney John Dowd—last seen representing Trump in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation—wrote, “Please be advised that Messrs. Parnas and Fruman assisted Mr. Giuliani in connection with his representation of President Trump.” This was apparently intended to shield Parnas and Fruman: Dowd argued that some of what Democrats sought from them was protected by attorney-client privilege. But with the arrests today, that argument adds to Trump’s problems. Attorney-client privilege does not cover the commission of crimes, and now the connection to the president has been established.