A humiliating roast by Joe Biden may have turned Rudy Giuliani into Trump’s avenger


United States

In September 2001, America was stunned. Terrorist attacks had reduced the Twin Towers to rubble and shattered the nation’s sense of invincibility.

But amidst the fear, smoke and soot in New York, one man forged an image of strength — the city’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani.

“I was with him on the morning of 9/11 and he was magnificent,” said Andrew Kirtzman, a former journalist.

“He comforted people, reassured them. For a long time afterwards, he was beloved. He was almost above politics.”



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Rudy Giuliani earned the nickname ‘America’s mayor’ after the September 11th attacks on New York. (Reuters: Peter Morgan)

Oprah Winfrey called him “America’s mayor.”

An honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth followed. He was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year and a film was made about him, starring actor James Woods.

To many outside the United States, who were underwhelmed by the Republican President George W Bush, he came to embody the resilience that defined the world’s undisputed superpower.

“He was a man of integrity and ethics,” said Ken Frydman, who used to serve as Mr Giuliani’s press secretary and was even married by him.

“Now, people ask: what’s happened to him? Has he lost it?”

From 9/11 hero to impeachment villain

Eighteen years on, Mr Giuliani is once again the star of a pivotal national moment.

But now, his reputation has been shattered; his halo dislodged.



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Then President George W. Bush embraces Rudy Giuliani days after the September 11th attacks. (Reuters: Win McNamee )

As Donald Trump’s divisive personal lawyer, he is a key character in the Ukraine scandal that led to the impeachment of the 45th President.

Democrats portray him as a villain, an architect of a failed plan to abuse the power of the Oval Office to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, the Commander-in-Chief’s potential opponent at the 2020 election.

He is so central to the case against Mr Trump that frustrated Republican Mark Meadows recently remarked, “this is an impeachment of Rudy Giuliani”.



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Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump have known each other for decades, and the former New York mayor is now his personal lawyer. (Reuters: Mike Segar)

Even some of the President’s allies think he is a liability and want him sacked.

In 2006, he was the most popular politician in America. Now only 29 per cent of Americans approve of him.

But to understand how “America’s mayor” squandered much of his goodwill and ended up in such a precarious position, you have to look back at how he rose to fame.

The rise of Rudy Giuliani

Mr Giuliani made a name for himself in the 1980s as the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.



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Rudy Giuliani ran for New York Mayor in 1989, but did not win until his second run in 1993. (Reuters)

The brash prosecutor attracted enormous attention by taking on the city’s famous mafia families and Wall Street insider trading.

The then-moderate Republican used his profile to run for mayor, winning on his second attempt.

A lover of the limelight, his first act the morning after being elected was to make a guest appearance on “The Non-Fat Yoghurt” episode of hit TV sitcom Seinfeld.

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Rudy Giuliani made a cameo on the classic frozen yoghurt episode of Seinfeld

While in office, Mr Giuliani got to know Mr Trump, who was then an equally colourful New York property tycoon.

In 2000, they appeared in a bizarre parody video together, where Mr Giuliani, dressed in drag, had his fake breasts nuzzled by Mr Trump.

“Oh, you dirty boy, you!” Mr Giuliani exclaimed, before slapping Mr Trump’s face.

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Trump and Giuliani filmed the skit for annual New York city charity dinner in 2000.

His time in City Hall is warmly remembered by many Republicans but it was regularly pockmarked by controversies or publicity stunts.

He surprised his wife by announcing their separation at a press conference, cracked down on homeless people and presided over a contentious stop-and-frisk policing policy, which he still claims reduced crime and helped him clean up the city.

The then-mayor also had his own radio show, which is perhaps best remembered now for a spectacular, fiery confrontation with a ferret owner.

“This excessive concern with little weasels is a sickness,” Mr Giuliani told the head of a New York ferrets’ rights advocacy group.

“There’s something deranged about you.”

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Mayor Giuliani yells at a caller about ferrets during a radio show

Long-term critics of “America’s mayor” claim there’s plenty of evidence to suggest his controversial behaviour on Thursday is completely consistent with how he acted in the past.

The humiliation of ‘America’s mayor’

After leaving office, Mr Giuliani set up a couple of businesses.

He cashed in on his September 11 experiences, offering policing, security planning and counterterrorism advice to a variety of governments and companies around the world, some with less-than-perfect reputations.

On Thursday, he maintains several foreign clients, while also representing the President.

“He used to order a slice of pizza and a Diet Coke and pay for it himself because he didn’t want to be compromised by anyone,” Mr Frydman told the ABC.

“Then you fast forward to today, it seems like he will take money and work for anyone.”



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Mr Giuliani was expected to be a frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2008, but withdrew from the race in January. (Reuters: Hans Deryk)

But some former friends argue it was the 2008 Presidential campaign, not his business interests, that changed Mr Giuliani’s trajectory in life.

After starting as an early frontrunner in the race for the Republican Party nomination, he nose-dived spectacularly, dropping out early to endorse John McCain.

One line of attack from then-Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who went on to become Vice-President, seems to have added relevance on Thursday.

“Rudy Giuliani, there’s only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb and 9/11,” Mr Biden said during a Democratic debate.

“There’s nothing else.”

One former associate told the ABC he believes Mr Giuliani has never forgotten that attack on one of his proudest moments.

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@kylegriffin1 Important to remember this debate moment from 2007 when considering Giuliani's attacks today on Joe Biden.

Rudy Giuliani gets close to team Trump

Following his failed run and Barack Obama’s defeat of Mr McCain at the 2008 election, Mr Giuliani found his public standing had slipped.



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Rudy Giuliani was one of the first major political figures to endorse Donald Trump for President. (Reuters: Mike Segar)

His once-lucrative public appearance and speaking fees fell. He still had debt from his campaign and crucially, his relevance to the national debate began to fade.

Instead of guest-starring on big-budget sitcoms, the former mayor appeared as a colourful and at times controversial commentator on evening, right-wing cable news programs.

He made unfounded comments about President Obama, claiming he “didn’t love America”, and repeatedly targeted Hillary Clinton.

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Rudy Giuliani starts rumours about Hillary Clinton on Fox News

“Go online and put down ‘Hillary Clinton illness,'” he once urged Fox News viewers.

“I think Hillary’s tired … she looks sick.”

By the summer of 2016, Mr Giuliani had emerged as one of Mr Trump’s most incendiary advocates.

He was among the first establishment Republicans to back the real estate mogul, calling him “an agent of change.”

Following the broadcast of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, where the future President said he could walk up to women and “grab them by the pussy”, Mr Giuliani was the only one to appear on Sunday political shows defending him.

“The fact is that men at times talk like that. Not all men but men do,” he said on CNN.

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Rudy Giuliani defends Donald Trump after the Access Hollywood tape leaked

“I know he believes it’s wrong. I believe this is not the man we’re talking about today.”

Mr Trump wasn’t grateful — he reportedly thought the performances “sucked”.

But it was an early sign of just how far the former mayor would be willing to go to support Mr Trump’s ambitions.

The renewed relevance of Rudy Giuliani

Following the election of the President, Mr Giuliani pushed hard, publicly and privately, to be made Secretary of State.



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Days after the 2016 election, Rudy Giuliani went to Trump Tower to discuss his future with the President-elect. (Reuters: Eduardo Munoz)

“My knowledge of foreign policy is as good or better than anybody they’re talking to,” he claimed after Trump’s surprise victory.

But he was passed over, perhaps partly due to concerns about his catalogue of international clients.

It wasn’t until 2018, again during a time of crisis, that he truly entered Mr Trump’s inner circle.

“When he was invited to become the President’s personal attorney, that was a major coup for Giuliani,” Mr Kirtzman said.

“It brought him back to the centre of the action.”



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Associates say Rudy Giuliani enjoys the attention that comes with being close to the President. (Reuters: Mike Segar)

His main task was grappling with the Special Counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, led by Robert Mueller.

Allegations of possible Kremlin collusion with the Trump campaign had cast a long, dark cloud over the first few years of the administration.

A frustrated Commander-in-Chief, who had seen several close confidants indicted, was demanding a more aggressive response.

From the outset, Mr Giuliani delivered during a series of chaotic encounters with journalists.

“There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians. It depends on where it came from,” he claimed in one exchange.

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Rudy Giuliani defends taking info from the Russians

When Mr Giuliani discovered the President would not face charges from the probe, he decided impeachment — a political, not criminal, proceeding — was the biggest threat to his client’s grasp on the Oval Office.

So, at the end of last year, he turned his attention to eastern Europe, looking for anything that could be used to challenge damaging findings.

Rudy Giuliani looks to Ukraine

For some time, a debunked story has circulated on fringe right-wing websites suggesting it was Ukraine, not Russia, that was responsible for meddling in the 2016 US election.

While the narrative is pushed by the Kremlin, the US intelligence community has unanimously concluded it is false.

But while Mr Giuliani was digging into the theory, he came across separate unsubstantiated claims that Joe Biden — now one of Mr Trump’s leading political rivals — abused his power as Vice-President in 2016 to protect his son’s business interests in Ukraine.



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Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden (far left) is at the centre of right-wing conspiracies about his business dealings in Ukraine. (Reuters: Bryan Woolston)

There’s no evidence Mr Biden acted improperly.

But there’s plenty to show Mr Giuliani and associates began promoting the claim and pushing for Ukraine to announce investigations.

Official inquiries into the Bidens and 2016 meddling theories could have been beneficial to his most important client, the President, as he campaigned for re-election.

The shadowy work of Mr Trump’s private lawyer in eastern Europe made many US officials uncomfortable.

“Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” former national security adviser John Bolton reportedly warned.

Impeachment risk fades then rapidly re-emerges

On the 24th of July, Robert Mueller made his long-awaited appearance before Congress to discuss his inquiry’s findings.

But the special counsel was an anti-climactic witness.

Many Democrats were left deflated and Trump supporters were jubilant – the threat to the President seemed over.

But the next morning, Mr Trump changed everything.

While chatting with his newly-elected Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, he asked for a “favour”.



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US President Donald Trump’s impeachment woes began with a phone call to the leader of Ukraine. (Reuters: Jonathan Ernst)

The President urged him to look into the two theories his personal lawyer was pushing.

“Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak with him that would be great,” the President asked.

That conversation triggered a CIA whistle-blower complaint, which quickly turned into a full-blown investigation.

It heard allegations that military aid and a White House visit were being withheld as leverage to get the Ukrainian inquiries launched.

Democrats claim there is enough evidence to throw the 45th President out of office in an impeachment trial in the Senate.

They say he abused his office to try to secure political help from a foreign country and then tried to cover it up.

“President Trump put his own personal and political interests above those of the nation,” leading Democrat Adam Schiff declared.

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@RepAdamSchiff This is precisely the conduct the Founders were most concerned about when they provided the remedy of impeachment:

Mr Giuliani’s work to protect the President had badly backfired, though he claims to have been unfairly maligned.

“These morons, when this is over, I will be the hero,” Mr Giuliani told The Atlantic earlier this year.

“I’m acting as someone who has devoted most of his life to straightening out government.”

To make things worse, in October two associates of his were arrested with one-way tickets at an airport in Virginia.

Prosecutors have charged them with making illegal campaign contributions.

The US Attorney’s office in New York that Mr Giuliani once ran is now scrutinising his interactions with the pair.

“He’s in a world of trouble right now,” Mr Kirtzman said of Mr Giuliani.

“He’s an embattled figure, he’s facing potential indictment for his activities in Ukraine. He’s in a very precarious state.”

Will Donald Trump throw Giuliani under a bus?

Due to the numbers in the Senate, the President looks all but certain to survive the trial in the upper house of Congress early next year.

By the time he faces voters in November 2020, the Ukraine scandal could have faded into the background.

But the immediate future of his personal lawyer is far from clear.

For months, there have been signs many Republicans and a chorus of White House officials want him cut loose.

Early last month, Mr Giuliani was asked if he was worried Mr Trump could “throw him under a bus.”

“I’m not, but I do have very, very good insurance, so if he does, all my hospital bills will be paid,” he said.

His lawyer immediately claimed the comment was a joke and Mr Giuliani later called Mr Trump to apologise.

The President was already reportedly cross about a New York Times report that Mr Giuliani was pursuing business opportunities at the same time he was carrying out his shadow diplomacy.

It is well known in Washington that Mr Trump hates when others profit off him.

Rudy Giuliani rarely backs down

Despite his mounting woes, Mr Giuliani refuses to back down.

He has recently been in eastern Europe, interviewing Ukrainians for a documentary series for a conservative television outlet.

It aims to promote a pro-Trump narrative to undermine the impeachment case.

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@RudyGiuliani Working on an important project with @OANN, intended to bring before the American people information

By any measure, it is a brazen act, considering many might have suggested he keep out of the spotlight for a bit.

“He’s always been one to double down and he has always liked the spotlight,” Mr Frydman said.

“He said he doesn’t care about his legacy because he’ll be dead, but the people who worked for him do.”

“I just wish he and the President would think about what they’re doing to the country.”

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news




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