So it’s an understatement to note that the onetime crusading prosecutor’s halo has long since acquired plenty of tarnish. A man who once aspired to be Trump’s secretary of state has been roundly denounced by a raft of professional diplomats. He has become a figure of unremitting ridicule in McKinnon’s deft hands.
The precise nature of the inquiry into Giuliani by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan remains unclear, but published reports suggest it could involve a breach of foreign lobbying laws, campaign-finance violations, or some combination of both. Giuliani himself has acknowledged taking $500,000 from Parnas for legal and business advice, while insisting to Reuters that “beyond any doubt, the source of the money is not any questionable source.”
Indeed, Giuliani seems desperate to revive his former reputation. “It’s impossible that the whistle-blower is a hero and I’m not,” he told my Atlantic colleague Elaina Plott. “And I will be the hero! These morons—when this is over, I will be the hero.”
Read: Rudy Giuliani: ‘You should be happy for your country that I uncovered this’
More than a decade ago, when Giuliani was contemplating his 2008 presidential run, an analysis by Forbes magazine found that he and his firm, Giuliani Partners, had “repeatedly become entangled in petty deals that seem unworthy of someone with national aspirations,” exhibiting “the sort of carelessness that reflects either poor judgment or inattention.”
Since news first broke of Giuliani’s involvement in lobbying Ukrainian officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family, and to pursue discredited conspiracy theories about Ukrainian efforts to influence the 2016 election, the former mayor has struck a defiant posture in rambling television appearances and heated tweets, and he has declined congressional demands to cooperate in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
“I will not participate in an illegitimate, unconstitutional, and baseless ‘impeachment inquiry,’’’ Giuliani wrote last week on Twitter. “Jon Sale, who is a lifelong friend, has represented me for the sole purpose of analyzing the request and responding. At this time, I do not need a lawyer.”
But the circumstances suggest he might well be advised to hire one. Trump’s former Russia adviser Fiona Hill testified this week that former National Security Adviser John Bolton had grave concerns about Giuliani’s Ukraine efforts, referring to him as “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”
Trump and Giuliani have known each other for three decades, and in Giuliani’s heyday as U.S. Attorney in the mid-1980s and Trump’s as a flamboyant developer, they were both tabloid staples, regular boldface names, though, as I recall it, seldom in the same paragraph, much less the same sentence.
In New York’s media world then, Trump was a punch line, the person to call for a pithy quote on the passing parade, while Giuliani was a figure of fearsome rectitude, tireless in his pursuit of the Mafia and of the municipal corruption scandals that unraveled in Ed Koch’s third term as mayor.