The listening device was still planted in a Mafia capo’s Jaguar when a reporter shocked an organized-crime prosecutor by saying that then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani had told him all about it.
And Giuliani was still the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan when he took a group of reporters through a list of public officials, saying which were targeted for imminent indictment.
And, in one of Giuliani’s big public-corruption cases, federal Judge Whitman Knapp noted that the defense “has amassed a considerable body of evidence suggesting that one or more employees of the Department of Justice have violated Fed.R.Crim.P. 6(e) by disclosing evidence that was presented to the grand jury.”
The judge in this 1986 prosecution of Bronx Democratic leader Stanley Friedman further observed: “It may well be that the Attorney General of the United States would be interested in ascertaining which of his employees was engaged in violating one of the statutes he or she was sworn to uphold, or the Congress might deem such an inquiry appropriate.”
To be fair, the judge did not personally accuse Giuliani of the leaks. The late, great reporter Wayne Barrett once noted that Giuliani’s style was to have one of his assistants do it.
“He was very careful,” Barrett once allowed. “But people in his office would show you things that were completely illegal.”
Giuliani seemed to have forgotten all that when he declared on the Sean Hannity show this week that neither he nor his assistants had ever leaked during his days as a prosecutor.
“Never leaked a damn thing,” Giuliani said. “I would have considered resigning if I ever did that, or if one of my assistants did it.”
Giuliani made this proclamation immediately after saying that former FBI Director James Comey should face jail time for supposed leaks.
“Comey should be prosecuted for leaking confidential FBI information when he leaked his report intended to develop a special prosecutor for the president of the United States,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani also accused Comey of telling numerous lies, including when recounting his conversations with President Trump.
“I know James Comey. I know the president,” Giuliani said. “Sorry, Jim, you’re a liar, a disgraceful liar.”
Giuliani said this in defense of President Trump, who is estimated by The Washington Post to have made more than 3,000 false or misleading statements since assuming office. Giuliani proceeded to reveal that Trump had also been lying when he said he knew nothing about the $130,000 payment that his personal lawyer Michael Cohen had made to Stormy Daniels.
“They funneled through a law firm, and the president repaid it,” Giuliani said.
The firm being Cohen’s one-lawyer outfit. Hannity was named in federal court last month as one of its three clients.
“Oh. I didn’t know that,” Hannity said, clearly surprised by Giuliani’s revelation regarding the funneling. “He did?”
“Yes,” Giuliani replied.
That Giuliani seemed so untroubled by the lie about money should come as no surprise. He had already proven shockingly undisturbed by Trump’s lies about a day that was surely seared into the former mayor’s very soul.
Trump has claimed he lost “hundreds of friends” on Sept. 11, 2001, but has yet to name a single one. He was not reported to have been seen at any of the funerals, even though he lives just up the street from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, where so many were held.
Trump has also claimed that he viewed news footage that day of “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the attack. Nobody else seems to have seen it live or filmed.
Trump has also spoken of standing at his apartment window and possessing such remarkable eyesight that he could see the jumpers pitch themselves from the burning towers four miles downtown.
On his part, Giuliani actually had lost some dear friends and had started out close enough to the towers to see the jumpers all too clearly. Giuliani had then retreated uptown to the quarters of Engine 24 and Ladder 5, which he had first visited in 1994 after three of its members were fatally injured in a fire.
Among those present in the wake of that tragedy seven years before 9/11 was FDNY Chaplain Mychal Judge. The firefighters had left their lockers open and Giuliani began slamming them closed, lest the priest see the nude pinups inside.
“It’s all right,” Judge said. “It keeps them relaxed.”
Giuliani and Judge struck up a friendship and the mayor closely studied the way the chaplain handled the grieving families after the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996. Giuliani also sought out Judge’s advice when his personal life became a tabloid scandal.
“Pray for me,” Giuliani would say in late-night phone calls.
“No, no, no,” Judge would reply. “God hears from me all the time. I’m sure he’s tired of it. But he would love to hear from a real sinner.”
On 9/11, Judge’s lifeless body was carried from the towers and he was officially recorded as the first fatality of the attack. Giuliani put to work everything he had learned from watching Judge after Flight 800, and Oprah Winfrey deemed him “America’s mayor.”
Giuliani subsequently had notions of becoming America’s president, but that fizzled. He ended up a big-time booster of Donald Trump’s presidential aspirations. The extent of Giuliani’s descent became clear on the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
At the ceremony, Giuliani and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie excitedly accompanied Trump at ground zero like a pair of outsize Pekinese lap dogs. Christie was just what you might expect. He had been seen yukking it up at a previous observance with a crony who had just contrived to shut down access to the George Washington Bridge as political payback to the mayor of Fort Lee.
But Giuliani’s behavior shocked some of us who had loved Mychal Judge along with others who perished in this place made holy by their sacrifice. How could he be in such obsequious attendance to a guy who had repeatedly lied about 9/11?
Giuliani had either sold his soul or it was fully eclipsed by ambition.
When Trump was elected, Giuliani seemed to have several big jobs that were his for the asking; attorney general, secretary of homeland security, director of national intelligence. Giuliani declined. The position he sought was apparently the one he was about to name during the interview with Hannity.
“I wanted to be secretary…” he began.
He stopped before actually saying that his hope had been to become secretary of State, America’s Statesman. He had apparently been judged too temperamental for that spot and he seemed to wilt with disappointment in the subsequent months. He had nonetheless continued to prove himself morally malleable enough to inhabit Trump’s world, representing a Turkish gold trader accused of conspiring to evade U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.
A fortnight ago, Giuliani joined Trump’s defense team. Giuliani was back.
“I think I’m there because I’m his friend,” Giuliani said to Hannity this week of the man who almost certainly lied about losing hundreds of friends on 9/11.
Giuliani’s own past as an oft-accused leaker did not stop him from then calling for Comey to be prosecuted for being a leaker. Giuliani also branded Comey a liar for offering an account backed by contemporaneous notes that differ from the account of the most prolific liar ever to occupy the Oval Office.
Giuliani then offered an account of the Stormy Daniels hush money that marked Trump all the more a liar. Giuliani was apparently seeking to establish that the money involved was Trump’s own and not campaign funds.
“A settlement payment, which is a very regular thing for lawyers to do,” Giuliani said. “The question there was, the only possible violation there would be was it a campaign-finance violation, which usually would result in a fine by the way, not this big stormtroopers coming in, breaking down his apartment and breaking down his office.”
That from a former prosecutor who once had a Wall Street executive handcuffed at his office and marched in tears past his co-workers without securing an indictment, or ultimately proof of any crimes.
Giuliani now calls the FBI agents “stormtroopers” even though he knows they must have offered a judge considerable probable cause to believe Cohen had committed what the court papers term “many crimes.”
Investigators had to do that to secure a warrant to put a bug in the Jaguar owned by Sal Avellino, Mafia capo. FBI agents certainly would have to do at least that and probably much more to secure a search warrant for the home and office of Michael Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer.
In interviews and in his book, Comey has said that Trump’s demand for loyalty reminded him of a mob boss. Giuliani, the onetime mob-buster, has now ended up speaking like a mob mouthpiece.
As Giuliani should have learned when he did not get the job he wanted, Trump’s notion of loyalty is indeed enough like that of a mob boss that it carries no obligation for the Big Guy to be reciprocal.
Some people are a one-way street. Trump is a one-way boulevard.
And on this Bigger than Big Boulevard of Lies, Trump and Giuliani may end up proving anew the truth of an old expression:
“With friends like these…”