Rudy, Watch Your Back!

Roy Cohn and Donald Trump

The appeal of Rudy Giuliani to President Donald Trump is simple. The former mayor of New York City is like the man who hired him: An attack dog. Always go on the offensive is what Trump learned at the feet of Roy Cohn — Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red-baiting consigliere. If someone hits you, hit them back harder, ten times, a hundred times. That is one lesson Cohn taught Trump. Another is always keep your name in the newspapers (there is no such thing as bad publicity, as long as they spell your name right). Trump never wavered from following Cohn’s advice, and, in Giuliani, the president sees a fellow brash New Yorker.

While Giuliani is not bashful in defending the president, he poses trouble for Trump: The former federal prosecutor is prone to speak before he thinks. That is a problem for Trump as well, and both run the risk of placing the president in deeper jeopardy every time they discuss Trump’s legal woes. For Giuliani, the difficulty is compounded because he left the U.S. attorney’s office three decades ago, and he has spent little time since practicing law. Giuliani was mayor of New York City — earning points for the city’s comeback from rampant crime and money woes during his tenure and for guiding it through the trauma of 9/11 — and he ran a disastrous presidential campaign — at one time, the front runner in 2008, only to drop out after spending millions of dollars and failing to win any primaries or caucuses. He also has worked as a TV pundit and a security consultant before becoming Trump’s unhinged surrogate during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Rudy Giuliani has been on television many times in recent days.

Giuliani has been on a media blitz for the last week or so, showing up on television repeatedly. He has not limited his appearances to defending Trump. He has also weighed in on North Korea, predicting “there is a good chance” the Stalinist sate will release three detained Americans “over the next several days.” Two days previously, Giuliani said the release would happen that day. Then, over this past weekend, the former mayor indicated the United States would exit the Iran nuclear deal. He held up a piece of paper and pretended to tear it and spit on it, a suggestion that the deal will be cancelled on May 12, the date by which Trump must decide whether to continue the suspension of some American sanctions on Iran.

Can Trump by happy with Giuliani hogging all this media attention? It is one thing for the president’s lawyer to discuss legal issues, quite another to wade into foreign policy. Trump notoriously does not like to share the limelight, and Trump may soon decide that Giuliani is too big for his britches and ditch the former mayor. Trump acquiesced, after all, in Chief of Staff John Kelly’s decision to fire Anthony Scaramucci after only 10 days as White House communications director. The president probably appreciated Scaramucci’s in-your-face style, but not his out-sized ego. The president is addicted to attention, and Giuliani may be in trouble for stealing some of Trump’s time in the spotlight.

President Trump predicting that Rudy Giuliani will “get his facts straight.”

The former mayor surely must have realized he had problem when Trump corrected his facts. Think of that: Donald Trump correcting someone on the facts! Last week, Trump said his lawyer will “get his facts straight” after Giuliani said Michael Cohen, the president’s personal attorney, was reimbursed for the $130,000 he paid in hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. “Rudy is a great guy, but he just started a day ago,” Trump said. “He really has his heart into it. He’s working hard. He’s learning the subject matter.” Trump’s remarks prompted Vanity Fair to write the following headline: “Trump Assures Reporters He’ll Make Giuliani a Better Liar.” Nothing like learning from the best!

Rudy GIuliani talking to Sean Hannity about Stormy Daniels.

And, nothing like on-the-job training! Except the president is in serious legal trouble, and Giuliani’s loose-lipped appearances discussing the payment to Daniels may have worsened Trump’s problems. Already, reports indicate Trump has griped that Giuliani is a disappointment because he has not shut down the furor over the hush money. The president seems to believe Giuliani’s multiple television appearances have raised more questions than they have answered.

Apparently, Trump and Giuliani cooked up the plan to have Giuliani go on television and change the president’s story about the reimbursement. Neither man consulted any White House officials, not even the White House counsel, about the new plan. When a reporter for The Washington Post, texted a presidential adviser about Giuliani’s appearance last Wednesday on “Hannity” on Fox News, where he first discussed the new strategy, she received back a text with a string of emojis, including a popcorn box, the adviser’s way of saying he or she was watching in horror in real time.

The most charitable interpretation of the plan hatched by Trump and Giuliani is they intended to sow chaos. Say one thing one day, and while everyone is checking the facts on yesterday’s comments, throw something else out. The president lives for turbulence. “He needs the excitement,” says Trump biographer Micheal D’Antonio. “Without drama and the crisis and the powerful opponent, he’d be just another guy.”

It might work, But, then again, it is hard to imagine special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe derailed by the nonsensical rantings of either Giuliani or Trump.

Posted May 8. 2018

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