Prosecutors probe whether Rudy was drunk while advising — and it could sink key Trump defense: NYT

Focus on Giuliani's alleged drinking problem could doom so-called advice-of-counsel defense, New York Times reports

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published October 4, 2023 12:32PM (EDT)

Former New York City Mayor and attorney of former US President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Former New York City Mayor and attorney of former US President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Federal prosecutors in Donald Trump's federal 2020 election interference case have demonstrated an interest in the drinking habits of former personal Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, referred to as unindicted "Co-Conspirator 1" in the charging document, and whether the former president disregarded what his aides described as Giuliani's inebriation, turning a matter long rumored about among the duo's circles into a subplot of the case, The New York Times reports.

Investigators in special counsel Jack Smith's office have questioned witnesses about the former New York City mayor's alcohol consumption as he was advising Trump, including on election night, a person familiar with the matter told the outlet. They've also inquired about Trump's awareness of Giuliani's drinking as they worked to subvert the election results and keep Joe Biden from being certified as president. The answers those questions yield could undercut Trump's legal team's so-called advice-of-counsel defense, which would portray the former president as a client simply taking professional advice from his attorneys. If such counsel came from a person the former president knew was under the influence of alcohol, especially when others informed him definitively of his electoral defeat, the Times notes, his legal argument could falter.

Though not addressing specific accounts of Giuliani's drinking or its relevance to prosecutors, his political advisor, Ted Goodman, lauded his mayoral record and suggested he was being disparaged for defending "an innocent man" in Trump. "I'm with the mayor on a regular basis for the past year, and the idea that he is an alcoholic is a flat-out lie," Goodman said in a statement, adding that it had "become fashionable in certain circles to smear the mayor in an effort to stay in the good graces of New York's so-called 'high society' and the Washington, D.C., cocktail circuit." Giuliani himself told reporters "I do not have an alcohol problem. I have never had an alcohol problem," according to Politico. "[If] I have an alcohol problem, I should be in the Guinness Book of World Records. Nobody could have achieved that if they did [have a drinking problem]. ... I was working 24 hours a day. It's a big damn lie," he added.