Although it’s tempting to sit back and revel in the ongoing trials and tribulations of Rudy Giuliani, whose ongoing efforts to defend Donald Trump amid a deluge of ominous legal news have done more harm than good, it’s worth remembering that Rudy wasn’t always a complete joke.
“I know, you see him on TV now, appearing as the president’s lawyer, and you think, ‘Hey, when did Montgomery Burns become a real person, and why is he having an entire conversation with himself like he’s hearing voices?’ I get it”, Matt Bai wrote on Thursday, in a piece called “The sad last act of Rudy Giuliani“, before reminding you that at one time, Rudy “was an important and visionary politician who probably had more influence on modern American cities than anyone else, for better and for worse.”
You should read that linked piece when you get time, but for our purposes here, suffice to say the President needs to politely dismiss Giuliani as counsel, and right quick, because with each passing day, Rudy is undermining Trump’s defense.
Since joining Trump’s legal team (and thereby condemning himself to the wrong side of history) in April, Giuliani has variously attempted to shape the narrative with dozens upon dozens of appearances on national television and as we never tire of reminding you, Giuliani’s ongoing press junket has been an unmitigated disaster. The slow motion train wreck that is Rudy Giuliani, Trump lawyer, has been defined by an unnerving (if you’re Trump) penchant for accidentally pseudo-confessing to crimes. Trump apparently realized that early on, going so far as to suggest that Rudy “get his facts straight” just two weeks after Giuliani took the job.
But for whatever reason (perhaps because no one else wants to represent the President, his Twitter protestations notwithstanding), Trump is sticking with Giuliani and if this week was any indication, that could prove to be the his undoing.
Giuliani’s performance on CNN and Fox News on Monday amounted to accidental legal malpractice. To be fair to Rudy, his position going into this week was completely untenable. Between the release of the Michael Cohen tape, news that Trump Foundation CFO Allen Weisselberg has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury and reports that Cohen is prepared to tell Robert Mueller that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting ahead of time, there wasn’t much that could be done. Which is why Giuliani probably should have just eschewed appearances on national television in favor of closed-door strategy sessions with whatever’s left of the President’s legal team. Trump made things worse on Sunday evening when he launched into his most personal Twitter attack on the special counsel probe to date.
Still, Giuliani’s Monday missteps were inexcusable. His attempt to move the goalposts on the collusion story by claiming that collusion “is not a crime” were bad enough (juxtaposed as they are against some 84 Trump tweets that explicitly state there was “no collusion”). But the most damaging soundbites from Rudy’s television cameos involved Giuliani inexplicably denying that Trump was present at any Trump Tower meetings to do with Russians, a bizarre contention given that i) nobody ever said he was, and ii) the public was previously unaware that there were meetings (plural).
Giuliani tried to “clear” things up in a followup interview with Fox News, only to make things immeasurably worse.
Specifically, he was embarrassed by Melissa Francis who unwittingly stumbled into what might well have been the finest moment of her career. The expression on her face when she realized she had cornered Giuliani on live television was nothing short of priceless:
Trump isn’t making this any easier. On Wednesday, the President lashed out at Jeff Sessions, essentially demanding that the Attorney General put a stop to the Mueller probe. “This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further”, Trump tweeted, seemingly forgetting that Mueller is reportedly using Trump’s tweets to build an obstruction case in part based on what the special counsel may say are attempts to intimidate Sessions.
As if this needed to get any worse for Republicans ahead of the midterms, Trump also took aim at the Koch brothers this week. In a series of Tuesday tweets the President called the brothers “a total joke”, among other things, on the way to suggesting that the GOP doesn’t need the Koch network’s money or their “bad ideas.” You can read all about that in “GOP Waterloo?”
Well, when it comes to “bad ideas”, there’s perhaps no better example than alienating the Koch brothers ahead of a contentious midterm election that, if it goes “wrong” for the GOP, could end up landing the President in impeachment proceedings.
That assessment is common sense. In other words, it goes without saying that if Democrats manage to make the fabled “blue wave” a reality in November, Donald Trump’s reign would become exceptionally tenuous.
And while I suppose you could argue that making that explicit is one “strategy” for convincing voters to turn out in droves, I’m not sure you want to come out and admit that the President is in danger of being impeached if you’re the President’s lawyer because, you know, that sounds bad. But that’s exactly what Rudy Giuliani did on Wednesday.
“I say this not in my role as a lawyer but as a concerned citizen and Republican, this election is going to be about impeachment or no impeachment”, Giuliani said, while campaigning for Eddie Edwards, who’s seeking the Republican nomination in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District. Here’s the clip:
He went on to say this:
If Democrats get control of the House, do you think they’re going to treat President Trump fairly? I don’t think they will.
The crowd seemed to like it, but I’m not entirely sure that’s what you want to hear from the President’s lawyer. While Rudy explicitly tried to couch this in terms of irrationality on the part of Democrats, the fact that this comes from Trump’s attorney who is privy to inside information on the Mueller probe, certainly raises this question: “Impeach him for what?” That is, what exactly is it that Rudy seems to know that the rest of us don’t?
If Giuliani is correct, it only underscores the notion that Trump should refrain from insulting Republican donors on Twitter. He needs as much support as he can get if he wants to avoid a scenario where Democrats end up taking back the House and trying to start impeachment proceedings.
Of course this is Trump we’re talking about, so instead of letting up on the Koch brothers, he doubled down on Thursday.
“Charles Koch of Koch Brothers, who claims to be giving away millions of dollars to politicians even though I know very few who have seen this (?), now makes the ridiculous statement that what President Trump is doing is unfair to ‘foreign workers'”, the President tweeted, before going on to say that Koch is “correct” because – and this is verbatim – “AMERICA FIRST!”
On one hand, it’s undeniable that this kind of blatant disregard for political decorum has worked magnificently for Trump so far. But on the other hand, you have to think his luck is going to run out sooner or later.