Rudy Giuliani marked this week’s 9/11 anniversary by reminiscing about that fateful day from the friendly confines of Fox & Friends. His hosts dutifully recycled the TV footage of Giuliani walking the streets of smoky Lower Manhattan, paper mask affixed to his face, imploring people to flee northward. He told his Fox couchmates that he walked for hours, and that there were times when he could barely breathe.
That’s still the way many Americans see Giuliani, notwithstanding his current stint as Donald Trump’s truth-averse emissary. The 9/11 visuals resurface once a year, burnishing the myth of “America’s mayor,” and it’s seemingly hard to square the Giuliani of 2001 with the Giuliani of 2018—the TV lawyer who says, “Truth isn’t truth”; who says presidents can’t be subpoenaed (at least three have been subpoenaed, starting with Thomas Jefferson); who says Robert Mueller’s hiring was “illegal” (in the Paul Manafort case, two federal judges have ruled otherwise); who says the FBI agents raiding Michael Cohen’s office were “storm troopers” (Cohen himself says the agents, acting with a legal warrant, were “extremely professional”); who says that Cohen has “lied all his life” (before Cohen flipped, Giuliani lauded him as “honest”); who says that Donald Trump Jr. didn’t know he was meeting in Trump Tower with Russian government representatives (an email to Trump Jr. explicitly said so); who spilled the beans about Stormy Daniels—telling the world, during his TV-lawyer debut in May, that Trump knew about “the general arrangement” to pay hush money on the eve of the 2016 election. At the time of Giuliani’s disclosure, Trump’s denial of all knowledge was still the official position.