The fall and fall of Rudy Giuliani
Nearly 20 years after Rudy Giuliani inspired a nation as American Mayor, he faces a criminal investigation and is reportedly trying to get paid by former President Donald Trump for his legal representation in the post-election battle.
With the government reportedly expanding its jurisdiction from Ukraine to Romania, Trump appears not to be interested in helping his former lawyer.
It is not wrong to point out that many in Trump’s orbit end up far worse than they did before they arrived. But in this case, Trump has pretty much beaten his association with Giuliani, who starred in both impeachments of the 45th president.
A senior Trump administration official noted in an interview for my book: Abuse of powerthat Giuliani was part of the Ukraine fiasco – for which the latest search warrant was carried out. The official said the president’s attorney would clearly have served Trump better if he hadn’t. The officer also complained that there was no evidence that Giuliani was acting on the President’s orders.
That said, Trump was supposed to pay Giuliani for post-election litigation for services rendered, even though Giuliani – as in Ukraine – did not serve his clients’ interests as well. Giuliani pushed Trump to seek victory when the chances of changing the 2020 election outcome were hopeless. Granted, Trump probably didn’t need piercing. But Giuliani was neither a good lawyer nor a good friend because he hadn’t told his client the cold truth.
Former New York City Mayor, timeThe 2001 Man of the Year and a 9/11 hero has said the Justice Department’s investigation into him is political.
He can be right.
The reputation of the DOJ and the FBI has suffered tremendously in recent years. That doesn’t change the fact that Giuliani’s reputation has also taken a terrible and unrecoverable nosedive over the past two decades – a great and self-imposed tragedy.
Even before September 11th, Giuliani was a true miracle worker who brought New York City back from the apocalypse. George Will described his eight years as mayor as “the most successful episode of conservative governance in the last 50 years, particularly in relation to welfare and crime”. Even so, he received frequent harsh coverage from the national media endorsing his views on abortion, gay rights, and gun control. Before that, he was the American lawyer who prosecuted high-profile Mafia personalities.
After Giuliani had been a pioneer for a while, Giuliani’s socially liberal worldview and chaotic personal life blocked his search for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. Even after the first collapse, Giuliani was left by the party that made John McCain his defeated alumnus, still so esteemed rival of the keynote speaker for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
If he hadn’t chosen to become an attorney for Trump, Giuliani’s legacy would likely be that of a respected GOP elder today – though not necessarily rightly. Giuliani, who did not work in public office or in the private sector, was not particularly picky about customer reputations. Perhaps it was the visibility of Trump’s representation that undermined the universal respect that Giuliani had. The fact is that Trump had a comparatively good reputation compared to others for whom Giuliani directly or indirectly pleaded.
In 2002, shortly after leaving office, Giuliani represented Purdue Pharma, the Stamford, Connecticut-based drug company that makes the pain reliever OxyContin a highly addictive drug with a high death toll from overdose. During the 2008 presidential contest, Giuliani’s advisory work to the government of Qatar became a minor issue in 2007. Giuliani has also worked for Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), which the State Department designated a terrorist organization until 2012. The former mayor was among several former prominent U.S. officials on both sides of the aisle, including former Democratic and Republican governors and cabinet officials, who spoke at MEK conferences and campaigned for the group to be delisted as a terrorist group.
This was all before he became Trump’s personal attorney.
During the first Trump impeachment drama, a pro-Trump White House official interviewed for my book said he believed Giuliani was in Ukraine largely for personal business reasons. Anti-Trump Fiona Hill, a former National Security Agency official, took a similar view in her dismissal during early impeachment hearings, claiming the former mayor’s trip to Ukraine was “part of a package of issues he was facing his seemed to be pushing, including the business interests of his own co-workers. “
Perhaps this also emerges from the FBI search warrant, which reportedly involved a known group of people from the initial impeachment, including: Giuliani staff Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman; former Ukrainian attorney general Viktor Shokin, who said he had been fired for investigations into Burisma; another former attorney general, Yuriy Lutsenko; and even former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. From the perspective of the free press, journalist John Solomon is shockingly mixed. It is about when the government investigates communication between a journalist and a source regardless of the circumstances.
Lutsenko, the prosecutor who replaced Shokin, tried to hire Giuliani to arrange a meeting with US Attorney General Bill Barr about efforts to recover looted Ukrainian assets. Giuliani admitted he was considering taking the job, but decided it would be “too complicated” if he was to serve as the President’s personal attorney. If he were paid from sources in another country to influence the US government, he would have to register as a foreign lobbyist under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).
The FBI is investigating a FARA violation, a law enforced slightly more often than the Logan Act. If only FARA is going on here, the Justice Department could be on the verge of embarrassing itself again. However, it’s not uncommon for law enforcement agencies to use a lesser crime as an excuse to get a warrant for a larger case – possibly to fight Trump for reasons unknown.
During the Trump administration, when overseas clients knew that Giuliani was close to the president, he took up some interesting work. He didn’t seem hesitant to take on international clients like Ukrainian oligarch Pavel Fuks in 2017. Also in 2017, before he was Trump’s attorney, Giuliani urged the Trump administration to extradite Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, an enemy of Turkish President Recep, to Tayyip Erdogan. That same year, Giuliani separately tried to stop the prosecution of his Turkish-Iranian client Reza Zarrab, a gold dealer charged with financial crimes who helped the Iranian government evade US sanctions. Both efforts were unsuccessful.
In 2018, Giuliani broke off with the US State Department – actually the Trump administration – when he wrote to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis to criticize the country’s anti-corruption laws and complain about the “excesses” in enforcement. In the letter, he did not say who he worked for, nor did he state that he did not speak for Trump. The former mayor worked for the Freeh Group, a consulting firm run by former Clinton FBI director Louis Freeh. The Freeh Group represented Romanian businessman Gabriel Popoviciu, who was sentenced to seven years in prison last year for an allegedly corrupt real estate deal.
Perhaps it is time that those who have the right, when investigating Giuliani, at least suspect goodwill – if not innocent. At the same time, let’s make it clear that Giuliani should have the same presumption of innocence as any other polarizing political figure under investigation, difficult as it is for his enemies. Skepticism based on previous conduct in the Russia investigation is understandable and healthy. But conservatives should oppose a jerky assumption that any action by the Department of Justice against a Republican is illegal.
For one thing, a wholly politically motivated investigation by the Biden Justice Department appears to be a powerful, risky investigation. This is because Giuliani primarily investigated the Biden family’s international conflict of interest in Ukraine. Such prosecution would only put Hunter Biden’s profit at the fore at the time then Vice President Biden was working with the country.
It is this risk-taking that makes it seem that maybe, just maybe, the FBI is conducting its investigation despite, not because of, politics.
On another front, this FBI investigation raises the ghost that something illegal may indeed have happened with regard to the Ukraine Gate. Whether or how this could be related to Trump is not at all clear. What made Trump’s first impeachment the weakest in US history, however, was that no actual crime was alleged, just a vagueness of “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” based almost entirely on guessing his motive .
As central as Giuliani was in Trump’s first impeachment, he was also great in the second. After making a skewed legal argument that the 12th Amendment would allow Congress to send election results back to state lawmakers, he spoke at the January 6 rally. The main mitigating factor in Trump’s second impeachment for “inciting insurrection” was that, during his January 6 address, he told supporters to march to the Capitol in a “peaceful and patriotic” manner. In contrast, Giuliani spoke to the President, calling for a “process through struggle” that is far more open to misinterpretation by the few hundred violent thugs in the audience looking for a fight.
If there is ever a Mount Rushmore of Mayors, Giuliani still deserves a spot. He has not been charged with anything and could be completely innocent in his current investigation. That doesn’t change the fact that in his post mayor’s office he behaved in such a way that his reputation was severely damaged – and he is solely responsible for it.
Fred Lucas, the author of Abuse of Power: As part of the three-year campaign to indict Donald Trump (Post Hill Press, 2020) is the main national affairs correspondent for The Daily Signal.