The press recently reported that Rudy Giuliani is trying to pressure the Romanian government to soften its anti-corruption campaign to benefit a Romanian-American real estate tycoon who was convicted and sentenced to prison. The fact that Giuliani is performing this service while he’s also the White House counsel is troubling enough. But what should have garnered more attention—and so far has not—is that Giuliani is being paid by the Freeh Group, a private consultancy run by former FBI director Louis Freeh.
Freeh’s involvement in this case fits a pattern of his mercenary post-government career. Far more seriously, Freeh was also a lawyer for Prevezon, a money-laundering Russian company caught up in Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Prevezon is also represented by Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who notoriously participated in the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russian operatives and Paul Manafort, Donald Trump, Jr., and Jared Kushner to discuss supposed “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
However, I have been watching the growing national fascination with O’Rourke’s campaign with increasing concern.
I think this is one of those cases where a local race is being imbued with national significance, and I worry that a lot of left-of-center folks are getting their hopes unreasonably high. O’Rourke seems to be a great candidate, but he is competing against a powerful incumbent in a pretty red state. His campaign is doing well with fundraising, but I wonder how much of that translates to the local enthusiasm that will be necessary for him to win, rather than reflecting out-of-state interest by people who watch a video of him on Facebook or Twitter and are inspired to click on the Donate button.
My fear is that, despite mounting a great insurgent campaign, O’Rourke will end up losing to Cruz for structural reasons and everyone who has gotten so excited at his rise will throw up their hands in despair.
Instead, we should stay excited and look for more opportunities like this. I sincerely hope O’Rourke manages to pull off the upset, but even if he doesn’t, he has shown that Democrats can compete in Texas, and he has forced Cruz and the rest of the Republicans to spend a ton of money and time on a race that they all thought would be an easy win.