From the title of this book, Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor by Andrew Kirtzman, you might believe you’ll be reading about how Rudy Giuliani went from being the best-known non-President of all time to a pathetic drunk who may wind up in jail because he’s missed too many payments to his ex-wife.
But despite its title, this book is as much or more about Donald Trump and the reasons why he might also end up going to jail.
I always found it strange that Giuliani claimed to be Trump’s ‘personal’ attorney but wasn’t getting paid. It turns out that Rudy was much more Trump’s most ambitious and active salesman whose work for Trump had little, if anything to do with legal issues at all.
It also turns out that when Rudy found himself with nothing to do after he left the New York’s City Hall less than three months after the Trade Center towers came down, he was also able to reinvent himself as an international deal-maker because his reputation and media presence after 9-11 opened doors for him which otherwise would have been shut tight.
I’ve never understood exactly how and why someone who has a recognizable name is somehow seen as an asset when it comes to getting one company to do business with another company, but it happens all the time. We call such people ‘rainmakers’ because after they shake hands with everyone sitting around the conference table, some kind of deal gets done.
This is how Mitt Romney made a good living for himself with an outfit called Bane Capitol before he ran and won a race for Governor in Massachusetts. Al Gore has done a pretty good job of being a rainmaker in the environmental area, ditto Ron Conway in IT. Want to raise 50 million for a new internet venture? Bring Conway into a room of potential investors, have him start off by saying he’s willing to plunk down 5 million bucks, and by the time he has walked around the room and shaken every hand, the money is there.
Giuliani did the same thing after he left City Hall by signing on with the big accounting outfit, Ernst and Young, and then opening up his own rainmaker firm. According to Kirtzman, Rudy started off with a bang and quickly moved from being just another civil servant on a limited, public payroll to an international deal maker with enough money to own multiple houses, join multiple country clubs, all the snazz that goes with making the big bucks.
There was only one problem, however, with how Rudy was moving into the world of high finance and mega-deals, a problem which would come back to bite him in the ass multiple times, and the problem was this: Rudy’s entire career from the day he finished law school was wrapped around being a criminal prosecutor, for which he could honestly say that he had accumulated all kinds of experience, knowledge and professional debts.
What did Rudy know about investments and financial deals? Not one, goddamn thing. And while he certainly knew a great deal about how to run a campaign for New York City mayor, there wasn’t a single New York mayor who had ever leveraged this kind of knowledge or experience into a higher elective office, and God knows just about every previous NYC mayor from LaGuardia on up had tried.
Rudy’s lack of political savvy came home to roost in 2008 when he tried to go after the Republican Presidential nomination and flopped big-time. The crusher was a story which ran in the media just prior to the all-important Florida primary which claimed that Rudy bilked the city out of money to cover the costs of flying his then-girlfriend, Judy Nathan, out to their weekend trysts at the beach.
So here was ‘America’s Mayor, involved in a sleazy attempt to defraud the city for what was nothing more than pocket change. And that was the end of Rudy’s last political campaign. And that was also when Rudy and Trump started to get it on. Figures, right?
Kirtzman argues that Giuliani was the chief architect behind the whole election ‘fraud’ issue because according to him, Rudy overrode the views of most of Trump’s staff and convinced Trump that he could lead an effective and necessary campaign to reverse the electoral results. But even though Kirtzman does a good job describing the crazy, wacky press conference held by Giuliani in front of the Four Seasons landscaping firm four days after the election, he doesn’t acknowledge just how unfit for any kind of public role Giulaini had become by that point in time.
We’re not talking about someone who was just drinking too much or was still suffering from some post-2008 depression or maybe was already engaged in some kind of domestic, marital turmoil. We’re talking about someone who got up in front of every major media outlet in the United States and made a complete idiot out of himself.
Rudy would continue to make a fool of himself in countless court appearances where he argued for legal rulings which had no basis whatsoever in any documentation or proof submitted to these courts. By the time he got done, with this charade, he had been disbarred by bar associations in D.C. and New York.
Kirtzman claims that Rudy became Trump’s consigliere as a way of digging himself out of the depression he suffered after the 2008 campaign debacle when he went overnight from being a celebrity to a nobody and needed some way to recapture his former glory and public acclaim. But I think his shenanigans reflect a more fundamental issue about how guys like him and Trump operate within the political milieu.
You may recall that when Trump became President, he refused to separate himself from his business doings, claiming that he wasn’t under law to stop running his company while he sat behind the Resolute desk. And this is where Giuliani also operated as Trump’s ‘private’ attorney, as opposed to the legal staff that was on the government payroll advising Trump about affairs of state.
But the idea that one can draw a line between the ‘public’ and ‘private’ activities of a President and pretend that one has nothing to do with the other is a joke. Giuliani went to Ukraine as Trump’s personal representative to try to get our ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch recalled, because she was making it difficult for Rudy to dig up dirt on Biden that Trump could use in the 2024 campaign. That was a ‘private’ matter?
What bound Giuliani to Trump and vice-versa was the fact that both of them see public service as a way to enrich themselves, and we're still waiting for the book which explains this in detail.