“No one has been more loyal to Trump than Rudy, so he’s probably at the top of Trump’s pardon list,” a veteran GOP operative in Washington added.
Robert J. Costello, Giuliani’s attorney and a former top prosecutor at SDNY, scoffed at the idea of Trump issuing his client a pardon. “He hasn’t done anything to merit a pardon,” Costello told me last week. “You have to have done something wrong to need a pardon.” Costello said that neither he nor Giuliani has been contacted by SDNY investigators about his dealings with Parnas and Fruman, or heard from the FBI about his work in Ukraine and possible ties to Russian intelligence there. Costello added that they have “no concerns” about the upcoming trial of Parnas and Fruman.
Still, Trump is said to be enthusiastic about using his sweeping pardon powers, and expectations have grown that some allies he portrays as victims of politically driven “deep state” prosecutions and probes will receive pardons. Before Thanksgiving, he pardoned one such victim, his ex–National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration. (He later attempted to withdraw his guilty plea.) Other potential pardon targets include Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone and the former Trump-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, both of whom were charged and convicted as part of the Russia investigation. (The president has already commuted Stone’s sentence.)
The president also has the power to preemptively pardon individuals, which is what he’d do for Giuliani. “The president’s pardon power is extremely broad,” Donald Ayer, a former deputy attorney general in the George H. W. Bush administration, told me. “He can pardon anyone, and he can pardon them for crimes that have not been charged. Look at what President Ford did in the case of Richard Nixon.” (The White House did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)
However, Giuliani’s prospects could be undercut, ironically, by his erratic drive to overturn the election results.
David A. Graham: Why hasn’t Trump thrown Rudy Giuliani under the bus?
Trump and a number of his advisers were reportedly irked by Giuliani’s Inspector Clouseau–like performance and the far-reaching voter-fraud conspiracies he—and the lawyer Sidney Powell even more so—pushed during a November 19 press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters; Powell was ultimately ousted days after the RNC event.
What’s more, the image-obsessed Trump had something new to fret over when Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, and other commentators had a field day ribbing Giuliani for his personal appearance at the press conference, where he sweated profusely with what seemed to be black hair dye running down his cheeks.
Giuliani’s “assignment is to speak in public and muck things up and to egg on the conspiracy hunters and members of the cult of Trump,” Stephen Gillers, an NYU law professor who says he went to law school with Giuliani, told me. “His job is to influence, or, more accurately, to distort public opinion.”