rudy can't fail
January 27, 2020

President Trump responded early Monday to revelations Sunday evening that former National Security Adviser John Bolton wrote in an unpublished book he witnessed first-hand Trump linking frozen Ukraine military aid to Kyiv helping investigate Trump's Democratic rivals, including Joe Biden. "I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens," Trump tweeted, adding that if "Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book."

Trump may have a point there. Right after The New York Times reported on Bolton's recollection of Trump's Ukraine quid pro quo:

Still, that doesn't mean Bolton is wrong. He says he is willing to testify about Ukraine in Trump's impeachment trial, and several observers noted that Trump could also volunteer to swear he didn't offer the quid pro quo under oath.

The rest of Trump's tweeted statement held up the partial transcript of his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as "all the proof that is needed." In the transcript, Trump directly followed Zelensky's mention of U.S. miliary aid with "I would like you to do us a favor, though," the favor being an investigation into a baseless conspiracy theory about Crowdstrike and a hacked Democratic National Committee server; Trump then specifically asked Zelensky to "look into" Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Before Trump responded to Bolton's reported revelations, Rudy Giuliani — Trump's envoy and an undisputed central figure in Trump's Ukraine activities — said in a statement that he "used to like and respect John and tell people they were wrong about how irresponsible he was. I was wrong." He then suggested Bolton "wasn't man enough" to raise his concerns about Giuliani to his face.

In Bolton's book, the Times reports, Bolton expressed concerns about Giuliani's Ukraine scheme with White House lawyers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Attorney General William Barr; the Justice Department confirmed the latter conversation Sunday night. Peter Weber

December 9, 2019

Rudy Giuliani's late-career taste for wealth led him to lucrative foreign consulting work, and those business ties apparently prevented him from becoming secretary of state after he helped get his old friend Donald Trump elected president in 2016, The Washington Post and The New York Times recount. But Giuliani joined the president as an unpaid personal attorney in 2018, the Times adds, and since then, "step by step, he has escorted President Trump to the brink of impeachment."

Without Giuliani's "push for money and frank yearning for relevance, the Trump Ukrainian initiative might never have amounted to much more than presidential tweetstorms," and Trump wouldn't be weeks from impeachment, the Times reports. Yet Giuliani was back in Ukraine last week, still publicly digging for (or trying to will into being) dirt on Democrats. Trump seems on board, but his staunchest allies aren't sure what to make of it.

"It's weird that he's over there," Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told ABC News This Week on Sunday. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) suggested on CNN that Giuliani "is the president's personal attorney, but I don't know that he's over there on the president's direction. In fact, I would suggest that he's not." Several times "in recent months", Attorney General William Barr "has counseled Trump in general terms that Giuliani has become a liability and a problem for the administration," the Post reports, and at least once he personally "warned the president that he was not being well-served by his lawyer."

In fact, the Post continues, Giuliani's actions have long "caused persistent alarm among Trump's advisers, who worry that it is often not clear who Giuliani is representing — the president, his private clients, or his own foreign policy views — in his meetings at the White House and in foreign cities." Giuliani's "uniquely powerful position" as "unpaid personal counsel to the president and for-profit peddler of access and advice" has led not only to the Ukraine scandal, the Times reports, but also to a wide-ranging criminal investigation by the Manhattan federal prosecutor's office Giuliani used to lead.

The Justice Department, White House, and Giuliani did not respond to the Post's request for comment. Peter Weber

October 18, 2019

Jay Goldberg, President Trump's personal lawyer for 15 years, told MSNBC's Ari Melber on Thursday night that he warned Trump not to hire his current personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

"I think he's gone off the rails," Goldberg said of Giuliani, now being scrutinized by federal prosecutors in Manhattan for his work in Ukraine. "I think he will have legal liability." When Trump asked him last March if he should retain Giuliani's legal services, "I said despite his background, which as extraordinarily good, Giuliani would not make a good defense-type lawyer," Goldberg said, because "he had spent too much time as a prosecutor; prosecutors can generally go outside the line and there's nobody to correct them." He added that he thinks "Giuliani has been seduced by Mar-a-Lago, the lifestyle."

"Does Rudy Giuliani have any evidence or records that could resolve what he was doing with Ukraine?" Melber asked, and Goldberg dropped a potential bombshell: "Yes, there's a book that he kept of all the contacts that he made while in the Ukraine. It hasn't been subpoenaed thus far, it hasn't come to light, and I tell you that if the subpoena is issued for that book that he prepared, it will redound to the detriment of Donald under an agency kind of concept, that Donald will be responsible for all the things that he did. And Giuliani did a lot of the things that he's used to doing while he was a prosecutor."

"Rudy Giuliani prepared this book, you say?" Melber asked. "Yes," Goldberg replied. "I've seen the book." Melber pointed out that now he has disclosed its existence on national TV, it is likely to be subpoenaed. "Let the chips fall where they may," Goldberg said. "Giuliani likes to keep a log of the things that he's doing because he wants to show it to the client."

"This is crazy," journalist Marcy Wheeler said of Goldberg's revelation. "In what capacity did he see the book? And why does 'cybersecurity' expert Rudy G have a book of his mob ties?" There's also a question of whether the likely subpoena will arrive in time. Peter Weber

September 27, 2019

The understaffed and demoralized White House wasn't prepared for "the speed at which a whistleblower's claims have morphed into an impeachment inquiry," but "they're turning, at least for now, to some of the same strategies they used to counter special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation," The Associated Press reports: "Attempt to discredit government officials at the heart of the story. Dispatch Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other allies to muddy the picture. Lean on Republicans in Congress to provide cover."

Giuliani, at least, is doing his part. Not everyone appreciates it.

After a string of wild TV appearances, "Giuliani is now the subject of scorn," even among Trump's closest allies, Elaina Plott writes at The Atlantic. One former senior White House official told her the "entire thing" can be traced to "Rudy putting sh-t in Trump's head," while a senior GOP congressional aide called him a "moron." Giuliani hit back, telling Plott "they're a bunch of cowards," insisting he's "acting as someone who has devoted most of his life to straightening out government," and "anything I did should be praised."

"It is impossible that the whistleblower is a hero and I'm not. And I will be the hero!" Giuliani said. "These morons — when this is over, I will be the hero." He was apparently shouting.

But Giuliani has a story to tell, and it is a hard-to-follow, mostly improbably, often debunked conspiracy involving Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, servers, and Ukrainian anti-corruption prosecutors, Ben Schreckinger details at Politico. "I'm the real whistleblower," Giuliani told him. "If I get killed now," he added, "You won't get the rest of the story." Everybody, Giuliani said, giving one hint, "thinks Soros is at the bottom of it."

"Asked on Wednesday about Giuliani's project," Schreckinger reports, "a spokeswoman for Soros' philanthropy, the Open Society Foundation, responded with laughter." Peter Weber

September 25, 2019

President Trump is now facing a formal impeachment inquiry, Trump national security officials are blaming his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and Giuliani is pointing the finger at ... George Soros. In another wild night of interviews, this time on Fox News, Giuliani responded to a Washington Post report that many Trump administration national security officials blame him and his "shadow" Ukraine machinations for Trump's impeachment problems, insisting that everything he did on Trump's behalf in Ukraine was done "at the request of the State Department."

"I never talked to a Ukrainian official until the State Department called me and asked me to do it," Giuliani told Fox News host Laura Ingraham. "And then I reported every conversation back to them." He held up his phone as purported proof.

Ingraham asked, reasonably, why Trump's personal lawyer is his point man on Ukraine, and how Giuliani is defending Trump by going after Biden.

If you're confused at how George Soros fits in to all this — spoiler: he doesn't — Robert Mackey has a thorough rundown of Giuliani's allegations at The Intercept, and another one of Giuliani's Ukrainian targets rebutted his accusations in The Washington Post. Giuliani went on to say that Trump shouldn't be impeached, but Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) should be because he told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky it would be inappropriate for Kiev to interfere in America's election, as Trump was apparently requesting.

You can watch the entire interview at Fox News, but later on Ingraham's show, Giuliani made a cameo after a liberal guest, Chris Hahn, pointed out that Giuliani had just accused the State Department of directing him "to go meet with the Ukraine to get evidence on the president's political opponent," then said if the Bidens weren't public figures, they should sue Giuliani for libel. That last part really set Giuliani off. Watch below. Peter Weber

March 18, 2019

The last time Rudy Giuliani appeared on TV to attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation on behalf of his client President Trump was Jan. 20, when he told NBC News that talks to build a Trump Tower Moscow may have lasted until November 2016 and rambled to CNN about Michael Cohen. Those appearances led to speculation that Trump would pull Giuliani from TV interviews, and Jonathan Swan at Axios said Sunday there's probably some truth to that.

Two people "with direct knowledge" said Trump and his Russia investigation lawyer Emmet Flood have privately griped about some of Giuliani's TV appearances, Swan reports, and a third source said Trump thought it would be best for Giuliani to stay off the air after his Jan. 20 hits. Giuliani himself told Swan that he's laying low to protect Trump from Mueller, not his own TV gaffes.

After the Jan. 20 appearances, "we thought the Mueller report was imminent" and decided "it it would be better not to comment until the report was filed or made public," Giuliani texted Swan, adding that he opted to stay of-the-air so as "not to upset the apple cart, not to create unnecessary, additional, needless friction" with Mueller. Swan said he found that "odd," because "sources familiar with Giuliani's thinking say he views a major part of his job as trying to undermine public confidence in the Mueller probe and harden the support of Republican voters for Trump to protect him against impeachment."

So Swan asked "the president's lawyer" if he thought Giuliani's purported strategy could work. And "the president's lawyer" — who sounds an awful lot like "John Barron" or another Trump alter-ego, probably coincidentally — said: "Yes, because we've had, over a period of time, after we were very tough, we've had some what we regard as very fair decisions, and some that aren't as fair. So we see that there's the capacity to go either way." Peter Weber

January 17, 2019

Oh, that collusion.

On CNN Wednesday night, Rudy Giuliani, personal lawyer to President Trump, acknowledged that maybe Trump's campaign did collude with Russia. When Chris Cuomo reminded Giuliani that Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort recently (and accidentally) revealed some very collusion-y activity, Giuliani didn't disagree. "I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign," he claimed. "I have not! I said the president of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here: Conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC."

Giuliani has a long history of contradicting himself on TV and shifting the collusion discussion, from claiming that "Russian collusion is a total fake news," to noting that that technically, "collusion is not a crime," then that attempted collusion isn't a crime. Also, this:

Wednesday's iteration could be paraphrased: Maybe Trump's campaign colluded but Trump didn't know, and only colluding with Russia to hack Democratic National Committee emails would actually be a crime.

Giuliani agreed he can't change Special Counsel Mueller's report, but also seemed to claim Mueller is already done. "I mean, this whole idea of obstruction is really stupid because the investigation has come to an end and nobody's obstructed it," Giuliani said. "I don't think the investigation has come to an end," Cuomo said. "Okay, if it hasn't come to an end, it has certainly come to an end on collusion — they either have it or they don't have it," Giuliani replied. "How do you know?" Cuomo asked, noting that new "Manafort stuff" is "the most damning stuff to date." "Well, that's not collusion and hacking the DNC," Giuliani said, and Cuomo pushed back on Giuliani's low bar. Peter Weber

August 20, 2018

On NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, Rudy Giuliani finessed his and his client President Trump's "collusion is not a crime" talking point to attempted collusion is not a crime. In the same interview where Giuliani declared that "truth isn't truth," host Chuck Todd asked him about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner. "The meeting was originally for the purpose of getting information about [Hillary] Clinton," Giuliani said, and when Todd interjected that Giuliani had just admitted to "attempted collusion," Giuliani laughed and disagreed.

"That was the original intention of the meeting," Giuliani said. "It turned out to be a meeting about another subject and it was not pursued at all. And, of course, any meeting with regards to getting information on your opponent is something any candidate's staff would take. If someone said, 'I have information about your opponent,' you would take that meeting." "From the Russian government?" Todd asked, incredulously. "She didn't represent the Russian government," Giuliani claimed. "All they knew is that a woman with a Russian name wanted to meet with them, they didn't know she was a representative of the Russian government."

According to emails tweeted out by Donald Trump Jr., he was informed the meeting would be with a "Russian government attorney" offering dirt on Hillary Clinton from "the crown prosecutor of Russia," as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." Also, it seems increasingly likely that whether attempting and (purportedly) failing to collude is a criminal act will be decided in court. And accepting help from foreign governments in U.S. elections is, generally speaking, illegal and not common practice. Other than that, spot-on. Peter Weber

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