When I last saw Rudy Giuliani for lunch, at the Trump International Hotel in Washington four weeks ago, his most pressing concern was that he had been locked out of his Instagram account. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and current personal attorney to President Donald Trump, had a young woman named Audra, who told me she had won the “hottiesfortrump” Reddit channel’s “Miss Deplorable” contest three years in a row, there to assist him. As Giuliani and I spoke, roughly a dozen tourists asked him to pose for photos and congratulated him on the “work” he was doing for the country.
Today, Giuliani, and specifically his “work” on behalf of the president’s 2020 reelection campaign, is a key part of a whistle-blower complaint describing alleged efforts to solicit foreign interference in the upcoming election—perhaps the most damning scandal of the Trump presidency to date. The complaint alleges that White House officials sought to “lock down” all records of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump offered the help of Attorney General William Barr and Giuliani to investigate the dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter in the country. It also alleges that State Department officials were “deeply concerned” about Giuliani’s subsequent conversations with Ukrainian leaders.
Even among the president’s closest allies, Giuliani is now the subject of scorn. When I reached him by phone this morning, following House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s release of the full whistle-blower complaint at the center of the Ukraine scandal, he was, put simply, very angry.
“It is impossible that the whistle-blower is a hero and I’m not. And I will be the hero! These morons—when this is over, I will be the hero,” Giuliani told me.
“I’m not acting as a lawyer. I’m acting as someone who has devoted most of his life to straightening out government,” he continued, sounding out of breath. “Anything I did should be praised.”
Giuliani unleashed a rant about the Bidens, Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, Barack Obama, the media, and the “deep state.” He has spoken freely about all these topics since the moment he became a surrogate in Trump’s 2016 campaign. Giuliani has aired far-right conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health on national television. He has discussed his convictions about alleged Biden-family corruption with Trump in the White House residence. Still, until the Ukraine scandal broke, Trump’s allies were almost uniformly supportive of Giuliani to reporters, and current and former administration officials would often praise him for his loyalty.
Not until the back-to-back release of the summary of the Trump-Zelensky call and the full whistle-blower complaint did the mood change among this group.
This morning, a former senior White House official told me this “entire thing,” referring to the Ukraine scandal, was “Rudy putting shit in Trump’s head.” A senior House Republican aide bashed Giuliani, telling me he was a “moron.” Both individuals spoke on condition of anonymity in order to be candid.
“They’re a bunch of cowards,” Giuliani told me in response. “I didn’t do anything wrong. The president knows they’re a bunch of cowards.”
Giuliani said he’s looking forward to watching the State Department “sink themselves” as officials try to create distance from him. In the complaint, the whistle-blower wrote that officials, including Ambassadors Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland, “had spoken with Mr. Giuliani in an attempt to ‘contain the damage’ to U.S. national security,” and that the ambassadors had tried to help the Ukrainian administration “understand and respond to the differing messages they were receiving from official U.S. channels on the one hand, and from Mr. Giuliani on the other.”
When I asked him about this specifically, Giuliani nearly began shouting into the telephone. “The State Department is concerned about my activities? I gotta believe [the whistle-blower] is totally out of the loop, or just a liar,” he said.
Giuliani went on to say that State Department officials had asked for his assistance. “If they were so concerned about my activities, why did they ask for my help? Why did they send me a bunch of friendly text messages reaching out for my help, thanking me for my help?” Giuliani said he planned to make sure these “friendly text messages” came out “in a longer story.”
He continued to stress that “all his facts” were “true” about the Bidens, though there is no evidence so far that they are. Giuliani argued that the reason his attempts to root out corruption were front-page news, rather than the alleged corruption itself, was because “the press idolizes Joe Biden and despises Donald Trump.” In a tweet last night, Biden said it was “clear” that “Donald Trump pressured Ukraine to manufacture a smear against a domestic political opponent,” calling it “an abuse of power that violates the oath of office and undermines our democracy.”
Giuliani has no intention, however, of slowing the smear campaign. “If this guy is a whistle-blower, then I’m a whistle-blower too,” Giuliani said. “You should be happy for your country that I uncovered this.”
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