Rudy Giuliani adds another dumb comment to his greatest hits list

The former NYC mayor-turned-Trump lawyer now says Trump won't be interviewed unless he learns about the "informant"

Published May 22, 2018 4:09PM (EDT)

Rudy Giuliani (Getty/Tasos Katopodis)
Rudy Giuliani (Getty/Tasos Katopodis)

If nothing else, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's stint on President Donald Trump's legal team has been wildly entertaining.

This is perhaps a cynical way of looking at the situation, but the words being spewed forth by the man once known as "Hizzoner" justify such a perspective. Take the following comments made by Giuliani to the Huffington Post on Monday regarding the prospect of speaking with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigative team:

We can’t let our guy go in and be questioned without knowing this.

He later added:

I don’t care so much about the name as I do about the content. What prompted them to do it? What did they learn from it?

To explain why this comment is so idiotic — and I mean deliberately idiotic, to the point that it's reasonable to speculate that Giuliani may have been outright disingenuous here — I turn to the words of former FBI special agent Josh Campbell during a Monday interview with CNN's Chris Cillizza.

The President casting a human intelligence source as a "spy" is pure politics. Although informants and spies both technically gather information covertly, the word "informant" is generally reserved for someone righteously operating on behalf of law enforcement, whereas "spy" conjures up a more sinister mental picture of someone skulking in the shadows with questionable intentions.

It is interesting that the President's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has frequently used the term "spy" as part of a coordinated campaign to discredit law enforcement officers investigating the campaign. Mr. Giuliani was once the US attorney in Manhattan, who oversaw countless government investigations utilizing confidential informants. I doubt he ever referred to them as "spies."

The notion that Trump would have any right to withhold information about a criminal investigation from the FBI because of something they did that was entirely legitimate is, on its face, absurd. If Giuliani was an amateur lawyer, this claim would make an informed outsider question his ability to perform in his field. Given his background, however, it seems instead like Giuliani is grasping at straws to prevent his high-profile client from saying something that accidentally incriminates himself.

Then again, this isn't the only time that Giuliani has said bizarre things in order to defend his presidential client. Here are some of the most conspicuous other occasions when he has done so, starting with comments he made on Sean Hannity's Fox News show earlier this month:

I was talking about the $130,000 payment, the settlement payment, which is a very regular thing for lawyers to do. The question there was, the only possible violation there would be, was it a campaign finance violation? Which usually would result in a fine, by the way, not this big Stormtroopers coming in and breaking down his apartment and breaking down his office... That was money that was paid by his lawyer, the way I would do, out of his law firm forms or whatever funds, doesn't matter. The president reimbursed that over a period of several months.

Bear in mind, Trump had prior to this point repeatedly insisted that he had not paid for the $130,000 of hush money given to porn star Stormy Daniels for her alleged affair with Trump. After Hannity pointed out that Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen had claimed to have paid Daniels entirely on his own, Giuliani seemed surprised.

He did? Look, I don't know. I haven't investigated that. No reason to dispute that. No reason to dispute his recollection.

Giuliani later made matters worse with a statement that directly contradicted what he had said earlier. It basically boiled down to him claiming that he hadn't been fully informed on the president's case prior to speaking on Hannity's show, which made him look effectively incompetent.

Giuliani also made these comments about Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, and why it would be downright unchivalrous for the special counsel's office to investigate her.

Ivanka Trump? I think I would get on my charger and go right into – run into their offices with a lance if they go after her... If they do Ivanka, which I doubt they will, the whole country will turn on him. They are going after his daughter? Jared is a fine man, you know that. But men are, you know, disposable. A fine woman like Ivanka, come on!

Aside from the absurd notion that investigators shouldn't ask questions of someone who may have been involved in a criminal act simply because she is a "fine woman," Giuliani's argument ignores that Ivanka doesn't have a squeaky clean past. She came close to being indicted in 2012 after the Manhattan district attorney's office began looking into whether she and her brother Donald Trump Jr. had misled investors about a Trump SoHo condominium project. She has also been under scrutiny for her connections to a Russian businessman, Felix Sater, who is believed to have connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as her involvement in a deal regarding Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, Canada during her father's presidency.

Finally it's worth mentioning comments that Giuliani made before he was one of Trump's lawyers — indeed, before Trump had even been elected president. This was when Giuliani inadvertently blabbed that he may have been aware that the FBI was going to review emails potentially connected to their Hillary Clinton investigation before the rest of the country did. It started with when he told Fox News in October 2016 that there was a "pretty big surprise" coming about Clinton from the Trump campaign, shortly before FBI Director James Comey leaked that a review of Clinton's emails was happening. Later he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that it was "a complete surprise, except to the extent that maybe it wasn't as much of a surprise."

He added:

I got it all from former FBI agents. Tremendous anger within the FBI about the way, number one, Jim Comey's conclusion (to not recommend criminal charges in July) and, number two, the way they believed they were being obstructed by what they regard as a pretty corrupt Obama Justice Department. Cutting off a grand jury investigation, cutting off subpoenas.

Giuliani later claimed that he had been referring to an upcoming ad capaign by Trump's people. Given his track record, though, it may be more likely that he accidentally told the truth.

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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Donald Trump Donald Trump's Legal Counsel Ivanka Trump Mueller Probe Robert Mueller Rudy Giuliani Russia