Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani unmade his bed. Now he has to sleep in it.
“I don’t pay any attention to it,” President Donald Trump’s most telegenic lawyer insisted to The Daily Beast on Thursday, as the New York Post and the Daily Mail, among other outlets, continued to spin tabloid gold out of his messy love life and his pending nasty divorce from his third wife of 15 years, the former Judith Nathan, who in a vicious statement to the Post this week, called him—per the headline—“a cheating liar.”
Giuliani made a series of phone calls to journalists on Thursday, including a wide-ranging interview with this reporter in which he denied that he’d engaged in an extramarital affair with married New Hampshire hospital administrator Maria Ryan, who holds a doctorate in health care administration; expressed the hope that his dalliance with Republican fundraiser Jennifer LeBlanc will blossom into something serious; lamented that his soon-to-be ex-wife is apparently acting out of rage—and discussed how he’s not letting the crazed melodrama distract him from representing the president’s interests.
“Oh come on. I don’t care,” Giuliani said about the all the titillating publicity, including the harsh statement by his third wife to the Post: “My husband’s denial of the affair with the married Mrs. Ryan is as false as his claim that we were separated when he took up with her.” (Judith’s divorce lawyer, Bernard Clair, didn’t respond to numerous messages seeking comment; nor did divorce lawyer Faith Miller, who’s representing Giuliani.)
“My children are all adults,” Giuliani went on, referring to son Andrew, a low-level White House staffer, and daughter Caroline, his children with second wife Donna Hanover. “I’m concerned for the people that get mentioned, like Dr. Ryan—because it’s not true. Jennifer and I have known each other for a long time, but we haven’t been in touch for 10 years, 11 years, and she’s a widow. I only met her again three weeks ago. So it’s a great relationship, and it may go further, it may not. We’ll see. I’m legally separated and we’ve already agreed on the grounds for divorce.”
Giuliani said his upcoming divorce should not be contentious because under New York law, “it’s easy—she gets half, and I get half” of the marital estate.
As for why Judith is publicly calling him a liar, “you’ve got to ask her, I don’t know,” Giuliani said. “Her ire is directed towards Maria, although it’s not justified. But who knows why somebody does that. It doesn’t help her. We’re separated legally. We’ve agreed on the grounds of the divorce in court. Our property is gonna get divided kind of automatically… It’s no-fault. Whether she thinks I committed adultery or not doesn’t matter in New York.”
Various friends and associates of Giuliani, contacted by The Daily Beast, described his third wife as difficult and unlikeable, possessed of a massive sense of entitlement and a tendency to belittle longtime loyalists.
During Giuliani’s ill-fated 2008 presidential campaign, she was “a nightmare,” according to a former aide, indulging in paranoia and suspecting him of having affairs, and phoning him incessantly—preventing him from participating in important strategy and fundraising meetings, and notoriously interrupting a September 2007 speech to the National Rifle Association.
Several Giuliani loyalists have begged him in recent years to split from her, according to sources.
“I’m not going to contradict them,” Giuliani said. “On the other hand, I’m not going to give it any more credence. I have a feeling that this stuff stokes her anger. She thought she could have her cake and eat it, too—that she could get rid of me and retain all my friends. I think she has found that they really don’t like her, and they thought she’s very mean to me. I don’t want to make it worse than it is. I want her to be happy.”
Giuliani’s detractors—a few of whom seem to coordinating with his estranged wife’s divorce team—have suggested that he has occasionally appeared on television in a state of intoxication after spending quality time at his private cigar club in Jared Kushner’s skyscraper at 666 Fifth Ave.
That would account, say his detractors, for his rocky performance on Fox News’ Hannity, when he contradicted Trump’s profession of ignorance and revealed that the president had indeed reimbursed his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 paid to porn star Stormy Daniels.
“You watch me on television tonight and then I’d like you to report whether you think I’m lit,” Giuliani retorted. “I don’t think I’ve been lit since my first bachelor party, when one of my friends mixed a drink of vodka and scotch for me… Boy, it took me two days to recover.”
Not surprisingly, camera-ready attorney Michael Avenatti, who represents Stormy Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford), has little use for Giuliani.
“This guy is unhinged,” Avenatti told The Daily Beast. “It is staggering to me that the president of the United States chooses this guy to go out and represent him publicly.”
But Giuliani’s close friend and former law partner, Marc Mukasey, offered a robust defense: “What’s going on is Rudy is lawyering his tail off for the president, very professionally, and there are personal and professional forces out there that don’t want to see him succeed.”
Giuliani insisted he’s unfazed.
Of course, this isn’t his first time at the tabloid divorce rodeo. While his first, 12-year-long marriage—to second cousin Regina Peruggi—ended quietly in the early 1980s, the end of his second marriage, to local television personality Donna Hanover, was a headline-worthy train wreck.
In 1995, 11 years after their 1984 nuptials, Hanover was blocked by Mayor Giuliani’s aides when she arrived at City Hall to confront him about a rumored fling with his press secretary, Cristyne Lategano.
After the then-mayor met pharmaceutical saleswoman Judith Nathan at his then-favorite haunt, the Upper East Side cigar bar, Club Macanudo, his marriage to Hanover exploded.
In May 2000, as he was considering a Senate race against then first lady Hillary Clinton, Giuliani announced on live television that he was splitting from Hanover—without bothering to give her a heads-up—and called Nathan a “very, very fine woman.” He ultimately paid his second wife a $6.8 million divorce settlement, and agreed to give her sole custody of the kids.
“I just answer the questions and move forward,” he said as he and Trump’s outside legal team, headed by Washington attorney Jay Sekulow, prepared to meet with Trump in the White House residence and hash over the latest legal and political developments—including a critical 500-page Justice Department inspector general’s report on the conduct of fired FBI Director James Comey, and Thursday’s lawsuit by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, alleging illegal conduct by Trump’s eponymous charitable foundation.
Giuliani’s visit with the 45th president, a regular occurrence these days, was to be followed Thursday night by an appearance on Fox News’ Hannity—an even more regular occurrence.
Speaking on his cellphone as car horns honked in downtown Washington, Giuliani sounded positively ebullient despite the reputational damage he’s sustained in recent weeks as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation heats up and Giuliani’s romantic escapades receive increasingly unwelcome attention.
The man formerly dubbed “America’s Mayor” after the 9/11 attacks recently turned 74—a birthday for which he was roundly booed May 28 when it was announced to the crowd at Yankee Stadium.
On Thursday, he said the president “knows all about it,” meaning his fractious relationship with his estranged spouse. “I’m fine. I’m fine. It’s part of life. I’m not the only person who goes through something like this.”
However, Giuliani is certainly the only person on the planet going through a potentially humiliating personal crucible amid a media feeding frenzy—while trying to defend the commander in chief.
“One thing I can do is compartmentalize, like he can,” Giuliani said, comparing himself to Trump. “Look at all the stuff with Stormy Daniels and [former Playboy model Karen] McDougal, and this lawsuit now by the attorney general. Any other person would be distracted… I think it makes him better.”
Giuliani said he’s taking no payment for his representation of Trump. “He’s been my friend for 29, 30 years. I’m not going to take a penny from him,” he said. “I’m doing this because of my friendship, and my loyalty to what a great president he is. Look at North Korea! And the other fact is that this is maybe the most outrageous investigation of a president I’ve ever seen.”
He added: “I didn’t like President Obama and, despite my political differences, I did like President Clinton. But I would have represented either one of them in this situation.”
Giuliani said he’s untroubled by reports that Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who is parting ways with his attorneys, might be preparing to cooperate with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and possibly flip on his former boss and hero.
“First of all, long-term, it’s not a concern,” he said. “I am assured the president hasn’t done anything wrong… and that he [Cohen] didn’t do anything with his client that was wrong. So I don’t think Cohen can cooperate against the president. What you’re assuming is that Cohen would lie. I know Michael and I do not believe he would. He is not cooperating yet, and I don’t he will—not against us, because he can’t.”
Meanwhile, Giuliani said the inspector general’s Comey report will help the Trump defense. “It is highly critical of Comey,” he said. “To the extent that it affects Comey’s credibility, you’d have to believe Comey in order to assume that Trump did some kind of obstruction of justice. I think this would be very helpful.”
Giuliani said that his recent attacks on the Justice Department and the FBI—in which he slagged off FBI agents as “storm troopers”—have been blown out of proportion.
“I wish they would listen to it more carefully,” he said. “I have the utmost respect for the FBI and the Justice Department. But the leadership, at various times within the organizations, have done highly disreputable things. I don’t mean right now. I mean back during the Obama years. And I think the [inspector general’s] report today will attack Comey. Does that mean he’s attacking the FBI? No. My attacks are on Comey and [former attorney general] Loretta Lynch.
“I’d think about Mueller [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein. We will have to wait and see what they do. I have an open mind.”
(A few hours later, however, Giuliani’s “open mind” slammed shut, and he told Sean Hannity that Mueller’s investigation—“a fix, a frame-up and a witch-hunt”—must immediately be suspended, while a new probe should be launched to investigate the investigators. “Rosenstein and [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions have a chance to redeem themselves and that chance comes about tomorrow. It doesn’t go beyond tomorrow,” Giuliani insisted. “Tomorrow, Mueller should be suspended and honest people should be brought in, impartial people to investigate these people like [former Mueller investigator] Peter Strzok. Strzok should be in jail by the end of next week.”)
Giuliani, who in a past life was a federal prosecutor and high-level Justice Department official, told The Daily Beast: “Some of my best friends are FBI agents.”
Concerning his controversial remarks last week dissing Daniels because she’s a porn star during a public event in Israel, Giuliani said: “I’m not gonna retract them, but I’m not going to repeat them.”
During the 10-day trip to Israel—which Giuliani said was paid for partially out of his own pocket, by his private consulting company Giuliani Partners, and by the Israeli business journal Globes—he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was accompanied by Maria Ryan, as well as his daughter and her boyfriend, and former law partner Marc Mukasey, and a team of bodyguards.
“Maria was invited to go on a tour of Hadassah Hospital. She runs a rural hospital, and they wanted her to go. They invited us together, but we went our separate ways there,” Giuliani said, notwithstanding a hospital newsletter recounting the visit and describing Ryan as Giuliani’s “partner.”
“Maria Ryan is just a friend,” he said. “Jennifer right now is just a friend—and I’m hoping for more.”