Canada's heart-throb Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has had a rough week, and things may only be getting worse.
According to the BBC, Trudeau is facing claims that he exerted intense political pressure on Canada's female, indigenous attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to "abandon prosecution" of Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, a "corrupt company" with alleged ties to Trudeau and some of his closet political pals. When Wilson-Raybould refused to call off an investigation (and subsequent prosecution) into SNC-Lavalin over fraud and corruption charges, the story goes, Trudeau fired her.
For some time, the story remained uncorroborated — a mere rumor that circulated around Canada's government officials. But last week, Wilson-Raybould testified in front of Parliament, telling her story in "meticulous detail," according to Canadian reporter Ezra Levant, parsing out "how Trudeau and his staff tried to get her to drop criminal charges against a corrupt company that he liked."
"[Wilson-Raybould] refused to bend the law for Trudeau's cronies. But they didn't stop. Trudeau; his chief of staff; his principal secretary; even the finance minister. They met her ten times, phoned her ten more. trying to get the charges dropped. She wouldn't. So Trudeau fired her as A-G," Levant tweeted in a short "primer" for American audiences — an account substantiated by The Washington Post. Trudeau eventually appointed Wilson-Raybould to a lesser position, handling veteran's affairs.
Because Wilson-Raybould was silenced by attorney-client privilege, only Trudeau was able to speak fully on the matter, according to Levant's account, but after weeks of pressure, and several high-profile departures from Trudeau's inner circle, Wilson-Raybould was invited to testify in front of Parliament, and Trudeau waived privilege.
The result was a bombshell testimony that appears to implicate Trudeau in a major political scandal.
"For a period of approximately four months between September and December 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with SNC-Lavalin," Wilson-Raybould testified.
"These events involved 11 people (excluding myself and my political staff) – from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, and the Office of the Minister of Finance. This included in-person conversations, telephone calls, emails, and text messages. There were approximately 10 phone calls and 10 meetings specifically about SNC-Lavalin that I and/or my staff was a part of," she added.
It's against the law in Canada to exert pressure on an attorney general, leaving Trudeau potentially exposed to criminal charges. Wilson-Raybould testified in front of Parliament that she did not know whether any laws had been broken, but that it should be clear "she was not prepared to help the company avoid a trial and that she believes it was why she was demoted in a Cabinet shuffle in January."
Trudeau denies the allegations, and told the BBC that he "disagreed" with the '"characterization' of events and maintained his staff followed the rules."
"The prime minister said he had full confidence in an inquiry by a parliamentary justice committee into the affair and in an investigation by the federal ethics commissioner, and would 'participate fully' in that process," he added.
To make matters worse, The Washington Post reports, the issue has captured the attention of China, which is now accusing the Trudeau administration of exerting political pressure over lesser ministers who tried to cut a deal with China to release prisoners held in Canada on U.S. charges. The two prisoners are awaiting extradition to the U.S. rather than facing justice in Canada, much to China's dismay.