On Monday afternoon, I called Giuliani to try to understand what he was saying about the Moscow negotiations. After telling me that he had only a minute before getting into the shower, he agreed to a conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity.
That passage, excerpted from a piece published in The New Yorker on Monday, really captures the essence of the ongoing trials (a term that, for now, we use figuratively, but will almost surely apply in a literal sense before it’s all over) and tribulations of Rudy Giuliani.
Over the past week alone, Rudy managed to i) pseudo-confess to collusion on behalf of the Trump campaign and ii) implicate his client (who happens to be the President) in lying to the American public about the timeline around the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations.
Giuliani’s latest screwups were so glaring that some commentators have been left to wonder if it’s all part of a grand legal strategy that revolves around sowing confusion on the way to moving the goal posts and slow-leaking damning revelations in the interest of proactively muting the impact of the Mueller report.
The only other explanation for Giuliani’s behavior is that he’s simply senile and thus not capable of being an attorney anymore, let alone representing the President of the United States.
In any case, you know things are bad when even The New Yorker can’t make heads or tails of a situation. As noted above, Isaac Chotiner had to edit what was supposed to be a brief interview and “condense it for clarity” because, presumably, Giuliani wasn’t making any sense as he was “getting into the shower” (which, for all we know, could actually mean “eating strawberry ice cream” assuming Rudy is indeed suffering from the onset of debilitating dementia).
Asked about the BuzzFeed story, Giuliani couldn’t even remember what it was about, despite the fact that it’s not even a week old and had the potential to trigger impeachment proceedings.
“I guess the BuzzFeed story–I don’t remember what it said about Cohen–but it said there was corroboration that the President talked to Cohen and told him to lie about, I guess it was, the Moscow proposal”, Giuliani stammered. Yes, if Rudy had to “guess” what the four-day-old bombshell story that was front page news from sea to shining sea was about, he reckons it had something to do with Michael Cohen and the Moscow proposal.
Despite having trouble recalling exactly what the story said about Cohen, Rudy told The New Yorker that “from the moment I read the story, I knew the story was false.”
And he was just getting started. Asked how he knew the story he doesn’t remember was false, Giuliani said this:
Because I have been through all the tapes. I have been through all the texts, I have been through all the e-mails, and I knew none existed.
Of course nobody ever said anything about any tapes, which is why Chotiner’s next question was, quote, “Wait, what tapes have you gone through?” To which Rudy responded “I shouldn’t have said tapes.”
No, no you shouldn’t have, Rudy. Because now we all know there are probably tapes.
Smelling blood already, Chotiner pressed him further: “So, there were no tapes you listened to, though?” Rudy – who we’re supposed to believe is competent enough to square off against Robert Mueller if it ever came to that – came back with this:
No tapes. Well, I have listened to tapes, but none of them concern this.
So, there are tapes. Got it.
Predictably, Giuliani then stumbled straight into another trap which it’s not even clear Chotiner was trying to set. That’s the miracle of Rudy: he’s a lawyer who can’t get through a single question without incriminating his client. Pressed about whether Sunday Rudy was correct to suggest that conversations between Trump and Cohen about the Moscow Tower went on right up until the election, Monday Rudy said the following (among other things):
Much ado about nothing, because the New York Times wants to crucify the President. And the President had no conversations. I shouldn’t say he had no conversations. He had a few conversations about this early-stage proposal that he ended somewhere in early 2016, and doesn’t have a recollection of anything else, and there is nothing to support anything else.
Naturally, that suggests Rudy has talked to Trump about this, but when asked if he and the President have discussed it, Giuliani responded that if he did talk to Trump about it, he “of course can’t tell you.” To which The New Yorker asked the only possible followup which is “O.K., so how do you know this?” Trapped again, Giuliani delivered this incomprehensible word salad:
Well, you have to figure out how I know it. Right? I can’t tell you what I talked to my client about.
No, no, no, you’re right. They did say one thing yesterday, and another thing today. But what they are doing is misinterpreting what I said yesterday.
If you can believe it, it got far – far – worse from there, but honestly, what Rudy said next (as Chotiner continued to press him) devolved into literal gibberish (e.g., “my main obligation is to defend somebody, not to deal with philosophy”), and there’s no point in humiliating him any further.
But what Giuliani said when asked whether he’s worried about the possibility that he is now effectively erasing his entire legacy in the service of defending Donald Trump is most assuredly worth highlighting and we’ll present the only excerpt you need without further comment:
The New Yorker: Saying things for Trump, not always being truthful about it–do you ever worry that this will be your legacy? Does that ever worry you in any way?
Rudy: Absolutely. I am afraid it will be on my gravestone. “Rudy Giuliani: He lied for Trump.” Somehow, I don’t think that will be it. But, if it is, so what do I care? I’ll be dead.