Rudy Giuliani thinks it’s hilarious.
He says the questions mounting around him—including those about whether his efforts to dump Hunter Biden’s documents and photos are part of some foreign election-interference operation—are “a bunch of bullshit.” He’s unconcerned about intelligence assessments that one of his former associates was a Russian agent, a proposition that he gave more or less even odds. In fact, Giuliani said, he has been “laughing my head off” about the whole affair.
Instead, the pugnacious former New York City mayor said he was on a mission to push out all the contents of a hard drive he allegedly obtained, that he claims belongs to the former vice president’s son—no matter how seemingly irrelevant others may say they are.
“I sleep with it at night,” Giuliani said of the hard drive, chortling. “It’s because I work late.”
Giuliani called The Daily Beast from New York City, the television blaring in the background, airing President Donald Trump’s rally at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport in Georgia. The president’s personal attorney said he recently made a private “gentleman's bet” with his client, who thought that U.S. media outlets would not report on the unveiling of Hunter Biden’s documents and photos, because of how protective the president believes the media is towards the Biden family. Giuliani, on the other hand, believed there was a good chance that mainstream outlets would pick up the story.
Giuliani now thinks he won that bet. “It made its way into the back of some papers,” he said.
Over the past week, Giuliani’s efforts have resulted primarily in a series of stories in the New York Post based on Hunter Biden’s emails, text messages, and documents, allegedly pulled from his laptop. The most politically substantive appeared to show that Hunter Biden had written an email to an adviser to the Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, to set up a meeting with his then vice president father. (“They never had a meeting,” Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said Friday.)
The Post reports came under immediate suspicion, in part because of longstanding concerns within the intelligence community that Giuliani’s attempts to peddle dirt about the Bidens was aligned with a broader Russian attempt to subvert the 2020 election. But despite those fears, the former mayor said he has been “laughing my head off” about the whole affair. The criticism against him, including questions about whether or not this is part of a foreign election-interference operation, he added, was just “a bunch of bullshit.”
Sure, the U.S. Treasury Department may have declared one of his former associates—Ukrainian parliamentarian Andrii Derkach, who worked with Giuliani on his hunt for dirt on the Bidens—to be an “active Russian agent.” But that’s some Deep State talk, he added. “The chance that Derkach is a Russian spy is no better than 50/50.”
“My guess is that George Soros is behind this counter-offensive… because he wants to create a socialist country,” Giuliani baselessly alleged. “He’d like to see us collapse and see us taken over by the international... whatever.” Giuliani said that Derkach’s eventual sanctioning was the result of “an intelligence ploy to try to create problems for Trump—because Derkach could probably bury Obama.”
In the nearly hour-long phone conversation, Giuliani confirmed a prior Daily Beast report that he’d given Trump a heads-up about his latest salvo in his campaign against the Bidens—a long-running saga that birthed the Trump-Ukraine scandal and ended up getting Giuliani’s client, the leader of the free world, impeached at the hands of House Democrats.
“Sure, sure. The president knows all about this,” Giuliani said, adding that he had briefed Trump on the “general” parameters of the files.
But the Hunter Biden material, Giuliani also revealed, wasn’t just pre-screened with Trump. He also said that top Republicans on Capitol Hill had been looped into the matter. The president’s lawyer said the computer store repairman who claims to have received Hunter Biden’s laptop in 2019 alerted several lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and others. “Jim Jordan. People like that,” Giuliani said, adding that he “believed” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) had also received the materials. “But we’re the only ones that got all of it,” he said.
None of these lawmakers’ office responded to The Daily Beast on Friday night.
The origins of the laptop and the dissemination of the material purportedly on it have become an 11th hour election subplot that has been, perhaps, more difficult to follow than politically consequential. Critics have charged the president and his team with purposefully pushing disinformation. Social media giants have tried to slow the spread of related stories. And, through it all, Giuliani has been indignant at anyone who questions his ethics or motives.
Asked, for instance, whether he was concerned if the materials he obtained might in some way be linked to the hacking of Burisma late last year—an act attributed to Russian intelligence—Giuliani said: “Wouldn’t matter. What’s the difference?”
Giuliani said that prior to the Post’s publication of the story, he told the president “that there were… a number of photographs that show very explicit sexual activity, and other very personal things, and also display criminal conduct.”
But pressed on what in the photos and documents pointed to clear criminality, Giuliani would only point to Hunter Biden’s acknowledged drug use. “Smoking crack is a crime!” he exclaimed.
The president’s lawyer said that he did not show Trump any of the photos or documentation, because he didn’t want the president to start talking about the lurid content in any detail. Indeed, he said he advised Trump that should any salacious material be published about his 2020 Democratic opponent’s son, the president should simply say that “he will have to have it reviewed to see if it’s a danger to national security… because this is precisely the thing that they said they had on him… [with the urinating] prostitutes on the bed.”
All public evidence shows that Trump absolutely is interested in promoting “that sort of” thing about his political foes, whether it comes to the alleged bloody facelifts of a critical cable-news host, or the nonexistent “sex tape” of a Hillary Clinton-supporting Venezuelan celeb. However, Giuliani claimed that Trump “agreed with me” that he shouldn’t wade into those waters with regards to Hunter Biden.
Giuliani then conceded that the president “probably [will] talk about the drug addiction,” referring to Hunter Biden’s publicly-documented substance abuse issues.
Pressed on why he thought it was appropriate to so aggressively push sordid details of the drug past of the former VP’s son, who has openly discussed his past struggles with addiction, Giuliani insisted it could constitute a “major national-security threat” because it could have opened up Hunter, and therefore 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, to potential blackmailing efforts.
“If you have him on there smoking crack, you have him violating federal law,” he said. “Crack isn’t marijuana… Crack is crack.”
It’s a ridiculous assertion, of course. Hunter Biden has publicly admitted to his struggles with substance abuse—and such an admission would puncture any blackmail or national security issue. Addiction specialists have excoriated members of Team Trump for making similar claims.
“Addiction is a medical condition that affects millions of Americans each year, irrespective of any demographic. It is a disease, not a moral or character failing,” Marvin Ventrell, CEO of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, told The Daily Beast earlier this month. “It is inappropriate, harmful, hurtful, and irresponsible when a public figure or person of influence disparages people suffering from addiction.”
When asked by The Daily Beast if he had any concerns about going down after Hunter Biden’s files, given that his prior work digging up dirt on the Bidens in Ukraine is precisely what got the president impeached, the former mayor replied, “I think [Trump] thinks the… impeachment was invalid. It would be totally unrealistic with three weeks to go in the campaign… not to use them. He owes it to the country to use them.”
Giuliani laid out a story about how he came to happen upon the Biden materials, saying John Paul Mac Issac, a computer repairman in Wilmington, Delaware who The Daily Beast interviewed earlier this week, got in touch with a number of individuals, including his lawyer, Robert Costello, alerting them that “he had Hunter Biden’s laptop,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani said Costello went to meet Mac Isaac and talk through the materials and that Costello only alerted him to the contents “three or four weeks ago.” Mac Isaac previously told The Daily Beast that he’d had the laptop for more than a year and that he’d alerted the FBI through an intermediary but also that the FBI had approached him about the materials. Under questioning by The Daily Beast and other reporters this week, Mac Isaac’s story about the laptop changed several times. He also refused to comment on any links to Giuliani.
The president’s personal attorney said he’d steered clear of telling reporters about the process by which he obtained the materials because he thought that is what the media would report on, not the contents of the laptop.
Giuliani said he viewed his latest leak to the New York Post as an extension of his years-long efforts to work with Ukrainians to dig up dirt on the Bidens. But nearly all of his former Ukrainian associates have either been arrested and indicted by federal law enforcement or are no longer welcome in the U.S. One of those individuals is Derkach, the pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian sanctioned by the Treasury Department for being a “Russian agent” and peddling disinformation to undermine the 2020 presidential elections.
As The Daily Beast has previously reported, Derkach for years has tried to pass damaging—and largely false—information about the Ukraine government’s supposed attempts to undermine Trump, and the Bidens’ supposed dirty dealings in Kyiv. Derkach dispatched packets of disinformation about the Obama administration and the Bidens to lawmakers on Capitol Hill throughout 2019 and finally met with Giuliani in December 2019 in Kyiv during the middle of the House impeachment process. Derkach and Giuliani appeared together in an anti-Biden television series produced by the Trumpist network OAN, and Giuliani has interviewed Derkach about the Bidens on his YouTube video series Common Sense.
Giuliani said he plans to keep leaking materials about the Bidens, all of them from an alleged hard drive that Mac Isaac first obtained. Though he insisted that he believes Trump will win in November, then, he said, he couldn’t be sure if the materials would move the electoral needle in favor of Trump all that much and have as much “impact” as he may have hoped.