The former New York City mayor was a 9/11 hero. But his last big job, defending the president, is a role too far, writes Guardian US columnist Jill Abramson
When Donald Trump famously descended the escalator of Trump Tower to announce he was running for president in June 2015, I found my thoughts immediately turning to Rudy Giuliani. Here was another son of New York City making a wildly unrealistic bid for the White House, just as Giuliani had done eight years previously. The former mayor reluctantly quit the field after months of trudging around Iowa and New Hampshire without winning a single delegate.
When Trump won, it seemed like a big reward was on its way to Giuliani. Would he be the next secretary of state, the pundit class speculated, after concluding that the role of attorney general wasnt good enough for the former lawyer? Instead, word came from the White House that Giuliani had taken himself out of consideration, a statement no one believed. Giuliani turned out to be the next cyber-security tsar.
So it was rather shocking when in April the announcement came that Giuliani was joining the Trump legal team and becoming its chief spokesman. Giuliani had been given perhaps the most important job of all: fighting Trumps corner as Robert Muellers FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election homed in relentlessly on the White House. During just over one and a half years in office, the president has lost or fired a succession of key administration figures, from Steve Bannon to Michael Flynn. Trust Trump to pick a top legal gun who creates more problems for him than he solves, which is what Giuliani seems to be doing.
In television interviews last week, Giuliani first revealed and then tried to kill a story that reporters were working on at the New York Times, involving allegations by the presidents former fixer Michael Cohen, whom he described as an instinctual liar. The story, according to Giuliani, alleged there was a strategic pre-meeting between senior Trump aides, before the now infamous Trump Tower encounter in 2016 between members of the then-candidates team and the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton. In rapid-fire sentences, some of which were barely comprehensible, Giuliani maintained that this pre-meeting never happened. So why did he bring up the allegation, which had apparently been put to White House officials, at all, deepening the intrigue surrounding the Trump Tower meeting? The same goes for another piece of hot information Giuliani dropped in May that Trump had reimbursed Cohen for money used to pay off the stripper, Stormy Daniels, to stop her going public over an alleged affair with Trump. That placed his client more squarely in the frame of another matter under investigation by Mueller.