Rudy Giuliani has done the nearly impossible; he has actually managed to single handedly plunge the national discourse into even greater depths of confusion and absurdity than it was in less than a week ago. Pundits are parsing through some of Giuliani’s recent gems, trying to make sense of his words, admidst a general feeling of asking helplessly, “Does anybody know what the fuck he’s talking about?
Dear Legal Scholars,
Please help me understand ????
Rudy Giuliani: “I’m talking about the law and the conclusion. The facts, I’m still learning.”
How does one draw conclusions without knowing the facts?
— Stephanie Ruhle (@SRuhle) May 6, 2018
Rudy has skewed the James Comey storyline to the point where even Sarah Huckabee Sanders is shrugging her shoulders, saying that, “There were a number of reasons that James Comey was fired. The president has named several of them. But the bottom line is, the president doesn’t have to justify his decision.” Perhaps he doesn’t, but the fact of the matter is that his motivation for firing Comey differs from the two previous explanations given by the White House, the first being that Trump fired Comey because he mis-handled the Clinton email investigation, and the second being that he was frustrated with the FBI Trump Russia investigation. Now along comes Rudy Giuliani, proclaiming that Trump fired Comey because Comey refused to publicly announce that Trump “wasn’t a target” of the FBI’s investigation of his campaign. Ouch. So while Huckabee Sanders may say the reason for firing Comey doesn’t matter, she’s not Robert Mueller and he may have an entirely different take on the question. Trump’s motivation for the firing is key.
But Rudy was only getting warmed up. A day or so after he dropped that bomb, he was back on TV announcing that three Americans being held in North Korea would be released Thursday and he was chastised for saying so, because his role in Trump’s world is obstensibly to act as Trump’s personal lawyer and announcements of that nature are the purview of the Secretary of State. As of Friday the prisoners had not been released and CNN reported that the National Security Council had no update on the situation. Trump told reporters Friday afternoon that he has been in “constant contact” with North Korea. Giuliani was asked to elaborate on the subject and his words at that time were, ”The less said on it, the better.”
“Nothing has changed, they’re working on it,” Giuliani added. “I’m not privy to what they are doing. I’m reading the newspapers just like you are.”
So now Rudy’s pretending to be a Washington outsider, just like the rest of us. The only problem with that is Mike Pence already worked that gag into his act a while back and so Rudy needs to find some fresh material, at the very least.
Then Rudy went on to give a speech Saturday to the Iran Freedom Convention for Democracy and Human Rights in Washington. Giuliani told that group that Trump is “as committed to regime change as we are,” saying, “It’s the only way to peace in the Middle East” and “more important than an Israeli-Palestinian deal.” He punctuated his remarks by picking up his notes and asking the audience to pretend they were the Iran nuclear deal, then ripping them up and spitting on them. Is that the decorum Giuliani would have given the post of Secretary of State, had he been appointed to it, one wonders?
So that took us to Sunday when Giuliani spoke with George Stephanopolous and in effect alluded to an extramarital affair slush fund that Trump allegedly maintained and which was administered by Michael Cohen. That comment alone led pundits to wonder if Giuliani was that incredibly incompetent or wisecracking, only half-jokingly, whether he could be a double agent, committed to bringing Trump down.
Even for Trump World this is too much. The White House hit a new bottom this week with Giuliani playing Hand of the King or whatever he’s doing. There’s talk of rebellion in the West Wing if this continues. Axios:
- If the Giuliani circus continues unabated — with him taking media calls day and night and freelancing on legal and policy matters — White House staff will likely quit, a well-placed source tells me.
- When Giuliani began opining about U.S. hostages held in North Korea, senior staff were irritated and perplexed.
- And West Wingers raised their eyebrows when he took a gratuitous shot at Jared Kushner, describing the president’s son-in-law as “disposable.”
How did Trump get into this mess? Mid April Trump phoned former prosecutor Jay Goldberg who unhappily opined that Michael Cohen would flip under the pressure of an impending prison term. Goldberg told Trump he needed new blood and he suggested Frederick Hafetz, formerly chief of the criminal division of the Manhattan U.S. Attorneys office. The Wall Street Journal reported Hafetz acknowledged getting the call from Goldberg but said that he wasn’t interested in joining Trump’s legal team. This was before Ty Cobb announced he was leaving. Apparently, Trump was desperately looking for good legal help, nobody of quality was interested and so he got Giuliani by default. Guiliani’s recent appearances have been described by Michael Avenatti as “an unqualified disaster” and “a train wreck,” and seriously, if Giuliani is Trump’s advocate, I would hate to see what his adversaries might actually accomplish.