The Atlantic Politics Daily: Rudy Awakening

Guliani wasn’t always one of Trump’s most loyal defenders, doing cable-news hits and yelling at Atlantic reporters. Plus: lessons from the Clinton impeachment.

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Today in Politics


It must be nice to have Rudy Giuliani on your side. The president’s personal lawyer has found himself ensnared in the latest—and perhaps most damning—presidential controversy, a phone call with the Ukrainian president.

The much-murmured about whistle-blower complaint, a declassified version of which was released to the public today, highlights Giuliani as Trump’s chief-henchman in the Ukraine matter, leading to scorn even among some of Trump’s closest allies.

Guliani wasn’t always one of Trump’s most loyal defenders, doing cable-news hits and yelling at … Atlantic reporters to defend the president and himself.

He was catapulted to national prominence as New York City’s chief executive from 1994 to 2001, earning the moniker of “America’s Mayor” for his conciliatory gestures after 9/11. (See: Giuliani donning an FDNY hat, walking through lower Manhattan beside Hillary Clinton.)

His public evolution (devolution?) through the years has been jarring:

September, 2019, to our White House reporter, Elaina Plott

On the whistle-blower complaint: “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.”

On his detractors in the White House: “They’re a bunch of cowards. I didn’t do anything wrong. The president knows they’re a bunch of cowards.”

January 2019

On his loyalty to Trump: “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?”

October 2016

On Hillary Clinton: “When I see her, I see her in an orange jumpsuit, I’m sorry, or at least a striped one.”

1996 Election Cycle

During his time as the mayor of New York, a tenure that ran through 9/11: “Most of [Bill] Clinton’s policies are very similar to most of mine.”

Featured Read


Did pundits and elected officials latch onto the wrong takeaway from the Clinton impeachment? Ron Brownstein examines the actual risks—or not—of initiating an impeachment inquiry.

In the November 1998 election, a month after the GOP majority first voted to authorize the impeachment inquiry, Democrats gained five seats in the House. That was the first time a president’s party had won House seats in the sixth year of his term since Andrew Jackson’s administration in 1834.

But those gains weren’t enough to cost Republicans control of the House. The GOP won a majority of the nationwide popular vote that year. Just 17 seats changed hands between the parties, at the time the smallest shift ever in a midterm election, according to a study by Gary Jacobson, a UC San Diego political scientist who specializes in Congress. With the economy humming, only six incumbents in the two major parties were defeated, and the average margin of victory for incumbents in both parties increased substantially.

Our Reporters Are Also Reading

The Burger Brawl (Brent Cunningham, Vox)

The Bernie vs. Warren Debate We Need (Eric Levitz, New York Magazine) (Paywall)

Poll: Americans Are Split on House Impeachment Inquiry (Domenico Montanaro, NPR)

Why a Trump Impeachment Should Terrify You (Frank Bruni, The New York Times) (Paywall)

About us: The Atlantic’s politics newsletter is a daily effort from our politics desk. It’s written by our associate politics editor, Saahil Desai, and our politics fellow, Christian Paz. It was edited by Shan Wang.

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