Rudy Giuliani is the fool for our time

Rudy Giuliani started Tuesday in the manner Americans have come to expect of the president’s lawyer: He attacked former FBI director James Comey by tweeting a cartoon image of Bashful from Disney’s “Snow White.”

Giuliani deleted the tweet, and anyway, it’s not clear why he chose Bashful.

.. He had told CNN on Sunday that “no one signed” a letter of intent for Donald Trump to build a Moscow project. On Tuesday, CNN obtained the letter — signed by Trump.

Giuliani, asked by the New York Daily News to explain himself, said, “I don’t think I said nobody signed it.” Completing the reversal, he said “of course” Trump signed it: “How could you send it but nobody signed it?”

.. The “fool” has been a dramatic fixture at least since Shakespeare scribbled, and Giuliani is the fool for our time. Occasionally he speaks accidental truths, but mostly he plays the clown.

.. “Twitter allowed someone to invade my text with a disgusting anti-President message,” an alarmed Giuliani tweeted a few weeks ago, calling Twitter “card-carrying anti-Trumpers.” In fact, Giuliani had accidentally sabotaged his own tweet with a punctuation error — “G-20.In” — that automatically created a hyperlink to an Indian Web address. A clever observer quickly bought the domain and created a page that said “Donald Trump is a traitor.” Giuliani’s errant accusation was all the funnier because he’s also Trump’s “cybersecurity adviser.”

.. The former New York mayor, 74, has long been a loose cannon, asserting that there had not been any “successful Islamic terrorist attacks” during the George W. Bush administration, saying Trump’s travel ban was a legal way to do a “Muslim ban,” and predicting a “pretty big surprise” right before Comey reopened the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Alternately ill-informed and indiscreet, he’s just the guy you’d want as your lawyer.

.. Giuliani began as Trump’s lawyer in the spring by comparing FBI agents to “stormtroopers” and later claiming a law-enforcement informant was a “spy.”

.. He said he would charge special counsel Robert Mueller’s office “with a lance” to defend Ivanka Trump, but Jared Kushner is “disposable.”

.. He said Trump couldn’t be indicted as president even if he “shot” Comey.

.. He undermined months of Trump’s “no collusion” claims by proclaiming instead that “collusion is not a crime.”

He defended Trump on NBC’s “Meet the Press” by saying “truth isn’t truth.

He admitted publicly that the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting was held “for the purpose of getting information about Clinton,” upending the official line that it was about adoption.

He suggested guilt when he told the Daily Beast “this was not a big crime” because “nobody got killed, nobody got robbed.”

And, days ago, he raised the possibility that associate Roger Stone gave Trump advance notice that WikiLeaks would release emails about Clinton stolen by Russiasaying “if” Stone had, “it’s not a crime.”

Clearly, some Giuliani dopiness is an effort to divulge damaging information gently. But he often makes matters worse.

.. Giuliani announced that Trump reimbursed Cohen for hush money to a porn actress. But he seemed baffled when told Cohen had claimed it was his own money: “He did?” Retreating, Giuliani said Trump wasn’t told about the payments, “but even if he was told, he wouldn’t have remembered it.” Further backpedaling, Giuliani said, “I’m not an expert on the facts” and issued a written statement “to clarify the views I expressed over the past few days.”

A similar mop-up came after Giuliani volunteered on TV that there had been a second meeting between Trump associates and Russians. Hours later, he said the just-referenced meeting “never happened.”

On Sunday, Giuliani was back to truth-isn’t-truth, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that “unless you’re God . . . you will never know what the truth is” from Cohen. And Giuliani told Fox News’s Chris Wallace that Mueller would interview Trump “over my dead body — but you know, I could be dead.”

Perish the thought! We need Giuliani’s entertainment. But when he dies, there should be a memorable scene when he goes before the One Who Knows Truth.

“I didn’t lie,” Giuliani will say, “but even if I did, it wasn’t a crime to be Dopey.”

 

Comments:

I always felt Rudy used 9/11 more than actually helping.
.. Need for money and attention, and significant cognitive decline due to age have brought about this sorry spectacle.
In the Trump WH age-related cognitive decline has a pretty good chance of passing unnoticed.
.. Trump is the anti-King Midas.

.. I’m sorry, but this column is mistaken.  Giuliani is playing out his assigned role precisely as intended.  Self-contradictions, deliberate falsehoods, apparent “misstatements,” bizarre tweets — all external hallmarks of Rudy’s boss, and Rudy’s a talented understudy.  The purpose behind all this playacting is to distract and confuse, and it works.  Trump continues to operate on the principle that the longer he can keep people shocked, off-balance, outraged, distracted, and confused, the longer he can rake in ill-gotten gains from his real aim: fleecing the American public.  Giuliani has been recruited to assist in the Dept. of Misdirection.

The only fool thing Giuliani has done is to place the slightest reliance on Trump’s promise of whatever payback The Gilded Don has dangled in exchange for Rudy’s excellent diversionary stunts.   A substantial group of construction subcontractors have learned, to their lasting pain and sorrow, what Trump’s promises are worth.

.. I agree.  Fortunately, Giuliani has no power or authority so people just ignore his inane pronouncements.  In the words of Jimmy Breslin, “Rudy Guiliani is a small man in search of a balcony.”
.. I think you’re giving them both more credit than they deserve. IMHO Trump is just a bully and Giuliani really is just a fool. But hey, there’s every chance you’re right, I’m just not sure they are smart enough to be so devious. 
.. Trump, Giuliani, and Gingrich: The Three Wives Men
.. Oh god another moron who thinks he is a stable genius.  Surely Rudy’s third divorce is having an affect on him.  And getting kicked out of his law firm for disgracing them with his idiocy, and having another exwife asking for more money, just has Rudy rattled. Please somebody remove this blight on the Constitution from our eyes and ears.
.. I find it amazing that anyone would even have this man appear in front of any camera.  If one lived in NYC when he was Mayor (as I did) you would know the truth about him.
He was a Mayor whose interest was to clean up the parks by moving all the homeless out of them with nowhere to go. Put them in the streets with no plan.
Did nothing for NYC education, nothing for housing, nothing for women’s or Gay rights and on and on.
The final straw was this America’s Mayor standing in front of Grace Mansion and telling the world he was divorcing his then wife (Donna Hanover) to marry his mistress.  Never telling her in person.
What kind of man is this?  He is exactly the clown you see today licking the boots of a President who like Rudy is a man without scruples and who lies on TV then is brought back to reality with proof that he spouts these lies and thinks he will get away with them.  Todays world has everything recorded.  Mr Giuliani please go back to your senior home and take your meds.
.. Could it be that Rudy is really a secret double agent who actually works for Mueller? Every time he opens his mouth, Rudy digs the hole deeper for Trump.
.. Very nicely done. The most puzzling thing about Giuliani is that he doesn’t have the self-awareness to realize that he looks foolish and he apparently doesn’t have anyone close to him who he trusts to tell him that he looks foolish either. He has chosen a very difficult role: mouthpiece for an habitually lying, narcissistic degenerate. Very few people could take that role and emerge with any dignity. In fact, most people with dignity would not take that role. Guliani will not be remembered as the Mayor of New York City during 9/11 nor as the U.S. Attorney who once tried to clean up Wall Street. He will be remembered as Trump’s tool, and as this piece says, as a fool.

.. Mr. Rudolph Guiliani is second only to the TRumpster himself in making the TRumpster look guilty as sin.

Larry David: What Really Happened at Trump Tower

A transcript of “that” meeting with the Russians surfaces — and a controversy is settled.

Manafort: O.K., shall we begin?

Natalia: We have very good dirt, as you say, on Clinton. You win election with this.

Manafort: Hold it, hold it. Wait a second. First off, that would be illegal. That would be conspiring with an enemy to commit election fraud.

Rinat: I thought that was what meeting about.

Natalia: Me too.

Don Jr.: What? Who told you that?

Rinat: What did you think it was about?

Don Jr.: I thought it was about adoption!

Rinat: Adoption?!

Manafort: Yes, adoption. We want you to rescind the ban. It’s taking a tremendous toll.

The Russians: (in unison) Ohh … well, this is big misunderstanding …

Trump just made 2 problematic admissions about the Trump Tower meeting

Two issues.

The first is that Trump appears to have broken some new ground here when it comes to admitting the true purpose of the Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-aligned lawyer — and even further contradicted the initial statement he helped draft about it. At the time, Donald Trump Jr. issued a statement explaining that he and the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.” We have since discovered that the elder Trump actually dictated that statement.

.. Quickly, though, that explanation fell apart, and we learned that Trump Jr. had actually been promised harmful information about Democrats, including Hillary Clinton. The president himself seemed to shrug it off, saying in July 2017 that, “from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting.” He added: “It’s called opposition research or even research into your opponent.” (Trump also tweeted along these lines.) But at the same time, he still suggested that the meeting was, in large part, about adoption.

.. If you’re Robert Mueller and you’re looking at whether Trump obstructed justice, you’ve now got even more evidence of a clear attempt to mislead the public and obscure the truth. Trump’s July 2017 comments came before we knew he was involved in drafting that initial misleading response, and they don’t so precisely say the meeting was intended to get oppo; now there is really no disputing that point if you’re Trump’s lawyer. (It’s a little like Trump’s Lester Holt interview, in which he said Russia was on his mind when he fired James Comey. That may not be the same, legally speaking, as him saying he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation.)

.. One of the strangest things about our free-wheeling Tweet presidency is that Trump routinely admits/acknowledges things, in writing, that might require hard-fought testimony from other presidents. As he did today with motive of Trump Tower meeting.

..The second issue here are the final words of the tweet. “I did not know about it!” This is something Trump has said regularly about the Trump Tower meeting and something he has re-upped now that Michael Cohen is reportedly telling people that Trump did know about it.

.. But here’s the thing: This is a tweet about how the Trump Tower meeting was totally fine — nothing illegal to see here. If you’ve got no real concern about legal exposure from the meeting, why distance yourself from it? Trump seems to be arguing against his own point by assuring us that he had nothing to do with this meeting, which — oh, by the way — was totally on the up-and-up.

.. Is this tweet, in and of itself, damning? Probably not. But obstruction-of-justice cases are about proving that someone had “corrupt intent when they took the actions they did. And for the second time in less than a week, Trump tweeted something that suggested his intent wasn’t terribly wholesome. He also suggested that he isn’t as convinced as he’d like us to believe that there’s nothing to see here.

The evidence doesn’t prove collusion. But it sure suggests it.

.. In Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted he wanted Trump to win — something Trump continues to deny to this day.

.. there were 82 known “contacts between the Trump team and Russia-linked operatives.”

.. the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower between the Trump campaign high command and Kremlin emissaries promising dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Kremlin’s “support for Mr. Trump.” “If it’s what you say, I love it,” Donald Trump Jr. gushed. When this was revealed last summer, President Trump personally orchestrated an attempted coverup by claiming the meeting was about adoptions.

This was shortly after Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey to stop the investigation of “this Russia thing,” as he put it in an interview with “NBC Nightly News” — showing just how much he fears this inquiry.

.. Trump’s deputy campaign manager, Rick Gates, was in touch in 2016 with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate with “ties to Russian intelligence.” Campaign chairman

Paul Manafort, who has a long history of representing Russian interests and was running the campaign for no pay, also reportedly met with Kilimnik in 2016.

Manafort was also in contact with the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska (whom he owed at least $10 million) , offering him “private briefings” that would no doubt have been instantly conveyed to Putin.

.. Russians first tried to hack into Clinton’s email on July 27, 2016, hours after Trump asked them to do just that (“Russia, if you’re listening”).

.. Both Stone and Donald Trump Jr. were also in contact with WikiLeaks, the Russians’ conduit for releasing stolen emails. Surely it is no mere coincidence that Stone predicted on Aug. 21, 2016 — nearly seven weeks before Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s stolen emails were released — that “it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel.”

.. the indictment also reveals that the Russians stole not just emails but also the data analytics Democrats used to run their campaign. This happened in September 2016. A few weeks later, the Trump campaign shifted its “datadriven” strategy to focus on the states that would provide the margin of victory, raising the question of whether it benefited from stolen Democratic data.

.. The application, approved by four Republican judges, notes that “the FBI believes that the Russian Government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with Candidate #1’s [Trump’s] campaign.” It also says that Putin aide Igor Diveykin “had met secretly with Page and that their agenda for the meeting included Diveykin raising

a dossier or ‘kompromat’ that the Kremlin possessed on Candidate #2 [Clinton] and the possibility of it being released to Candidate #1’s campaign.”

.. Helsinki, where Trump refused to criticize Putin and insisted on meeting with him alone for two hours. Why doesn’t Trump want his own aides in the room when he talks with Putin? What does he have to hide?

.. Former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. , among others, suspects that Putin has “something” on Trump — perhaps evidence of financial wrongdoing. But, by now, any such “kompromat” could well include the help that Russia provided in 2016. Trump certainly gives the impression that he knows how much he owes Russia and how important it is to repay that debt lest Putin release the evidence that might bring him down. And the

Putin Republicans give the impression that they couldn’t care less if the president plotted to win power with help from a hostile foreign state.

Trump’s Lawyers, in Confidential Memo, Argue to Head Off a Historic Subpoena

Mr. Mueller has told the president’s lawyers that he needs to talk to their client to determine whether he had criminal intent to obstruct the investigation into his associates’ possible links to Russia’s election interference. If Mr. Trump refuses to be questioned, Mr. Mueller will have to weigh their arguments while deciding whether to press ahead with a historic grand jury subpoena.

Mr. Mueller had raised the prospect of subpoenaing Mr. Trump to Mr. Dowd in March.

.. The attempt to dissuade Mr. Mueller from seeking a grand jury subpoena is one of two fronts on which Mr. Trump’s lawyers are fighting. In recent weeks, they have also begun a public-relations campaign to discredit the investigation and in part to pre-empt a potentially damaging special counsel report that could prompt impeachment proceedings

.. Mr. Giuliani said in an interview that Mr. Trump is telling the truth but that investigators “have a false version of it, we believe, so you’re trapped.”

.. “Ensuring that the office remains sacred and above the fray of shifting political winds and gamesmanship is of critical importance,” they wrote.

.. They argued that the president holds a special position in the government and is busy running the country, making it difficult for him to prepare and sit for an interview. They said that because of those demands on Mr. Trump’s time, the special counsel’s office should have to clear a higher bar to get him to talk. Mr. Mueller, the president’s attorneys argued, needs to prove that the president is the only person who can give him the information he seeks and that he has exhausted all other avenues for getting it.

“The president’s prime function as the chief executive ought not be hampered by requests for interview,” they wrote. “Having him testify demeans the office of the president before the world.”

They also contended that nothing Mr. Trump did violated obstruction-of-justice statutes, making both a technical parsing of what one such law covers and a broad constitutional argument that Congress cannot infringe on how he exercises his power to supervise the executive branch. Because of the authority the Constitution gives him, it is impossible for him to obstruct justice by shutting down a case or firing a subordinate, no matter his motivation, they said.

“Every action that the president took was taken with full constitutional authority pursuant to Article II of the United States Constitution,” they wrote of the part of the Constitution that created the executive branch. “As such, these actions cannot constitute obstruction, whether viewed separately or even as a totality.”

That constitutional claim raises novel issues, according to legal experts. Under the Constitution, the president wields broad authority to control the actions of the executive branch. But the Supreme Court has ruled that Congress can impose some restrictions on his exercise of that power, including by upholding statutes that limit his ability to fire certain officials. As a result, it is not clear whether statutes criminalizing obstruction of justice apply to the president and amount to another legal limit on how he may wield his powers.

.. The letter does not stress legal opinions by the Justice Department in the Nixon and Clinton administrations that held that a sitting president cannot be indicted, in part because it would impede his ability to carry out his constitutional responsibilities. But in recent weeks, Mr. Giuliani has pointed to those memos as part of a broader argument that, by extension, Mr. Trump also cannot be subpoenaed.

Subpoenas of the president are all but unheard-of. President Bill Clinton was ordered to testify before a grand jury in 1998 after requests for a voluntary appearance made by the independent counsel, Kenneth W. Starr, went nowhere.

To avoid the indignity of being marched into the courthouse, Mr. Clinton had his lawyers negotiate a deal in which the president agreed to provide testimony as long as it was taken at the White House and limited to four hours. Mr. Starr then withdrew the subpoena, avoiding a definitive court fight.

In making their arguments, Mr. Trump’s lawyers also revealed new details about the investigation. They took on Mr. Comey’s account of Mr. Trump asking him privately to end the investigation into Mr. Flynn. Investigators are examining that request as possible obstruction.

But Mr. Trump could not have intentionally impeded the F.B.I.’s investigation, the lawyers wrote, because he did not know Mr. Flynn was under investigation when he spoke to Mr. Comey. Mr. Flynn, they said, twice told senior White House officials in the days before he was fired in February 2017 that he was not under F.B.I. scrutiny.

“There could not possibly have been intent to obstruct an ‘investigation’ that had been neither confirmed nor denied to White House counsel,” the president’s lawyers wrote.

Moreover, F.B.I. investigations do not qualify as the sort of “proceeding” an obstruction-of-justice statute covers, they argued.

“Of course, the president of the United States is not above the law, but just as obvious and equally as true is the fact that the president should not be subjected to strained readings and forced applications of clearly irrelevant statutes,” Mr. Dowd and Mr. Sekulow wrote.

But the lawyers based those arguments on an outdated statute, without mentioning that Congress passed a broader law in 2002 that makes it a crime to obstruct proceedings that have not yet started.

Samuel W. Buell, a Duke Law School professor and white-collar criminal law specialist who was a lead prosecutor for the Justice Department’s Enron task force, said the real issue was whether Mr. Trump obstructed a potential grand jury investigation or trial — which do count as proceedings — even if the F.B.I. investigation had not yet developed into one of those. He called it inexplicable why the president’s legal team was making arguments that were focused on the wrong obstruction-of-justice statute.

They went beyond asserting Mr. Trump’s innocence, casting him as the hero of the Flynn episode and contending that he deserved credit for ordering his aides to investigate Mr. Flynn and ultimately firing him.

“Far, far, from obstructing justice, the only individual in the entire Flynn story that ensured swift justice was the president,” they wrote. “His actions speak louder than any words.”

The lawyers acknowledged that Mr. Trump dictated a statement to The Times about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between some of his top advisers and Russians who were said to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Though the statement is misleading — in it, the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., said he met with Russians “primarily” to discuss adoption issues — the lawyers call it “short but accurate.”

.. Mr. Mueller is investigating whether Mr. Trump, by dictating the comment, revealed that he was trying to cover up proof of the campaign’s ties to Russia — evidence that could go to whether he had the same intention when he took other actions.

The president’s lawyers argued that the statement is a matter between the president and The Times — and the president’s White House and legal advisers have said for the past year that misleading journalists is not a crime.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers also try to untangle another potential piece of evidence in the obstruction investigation: his assertion, during an interview with Lester Holt of NBC two days after Mr. Comey was fired, that he was thinking while he weighed the dismissal that “this Russia thing” had no validity. Mr. Mueller’s investigators view that statement as damning, according to people familiar with the investigation.

But the lawyers say that news accounts seized on only part of his comments and that his full remarks show that the president was aware that firing Mr. Comey would lengthen the investigation and dismissed him anyway.

The complete interview, the lawyers argued, makes clear “he was willing, even expecting, to let the investigation take more time, though he thinks it is ridiculous, because he believes that the American people deserve to have a competent leader of the F.B.I.”

A Christian Nationalist Blitz

the mission has little to do with what most Americans would call religious freedom. This is just the latest attempt by religious extremists to use the coercive powers of government to secure a privileged position in society for their version of Christianity.

.. The idea behind Project Blitz is to overwhelm state legislatures with bills based on centrally manufactured legislation. “It’s kind of like whack-a-mole for the other side; it’ll drive ‘em crazy that they’ll have to divide their resources out in opposing this,” David Barton

.. more than 70 bills before state legislatures appear to be based on Project Blitz templates or have similar objectives.

..  allows adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate on the basis of their own religious beliefs. Others, such as a Minnesota bill that would allow public schools to post “In God We Trust” signs on their walls

.. The first category consists of symbolic gestures, like resolutions to emblazon the motto “In God We Trust” on as many moving objects as possible (like, say, police cars).

Critics of such symbolic gestures often argue that they act as gateways to more extensive forms of state involvement in religion. It turns out that the Christian right agrees with them.

“They’re going to be things that people yell at, but they will help move the ball down the court,” Mr. Barton said in the conference call.

Come see us, Mr. President. We have questions.

It has been more than a year since Donald Trump held his one and only full-fledged news conference as president.

.. President Trump took two questions, both from friendly news outlets, neither of which asked about the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, even though Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman was entering a guilty plea at that very time.

.. Please outline what role you played in drafting your son Donald Trump Jr.’s statement about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting? Did you say that the statement should describe the meeting as being “primarily” about adoption? What was your basis for saying that? When did you become aware of the meeting?

.. Are your taxes still being audited?