Rudy Giuliani is Donald Trump’s defense attorney, but he does not behave as a clear-headed lawyer. He relies on dirty tactics instead of clean facts.
Rudy Giuliani has been appearing on television for months, and these days microphones seem always open for him. The former mayor of New York, who used to be popular as well as feared, now turned media-infamous attorney for the U.S. president, is so visible as to probably make it unbearable for Donald Trump. The powerful client in the White House will hardly worry about his man not finding enough time for the investigation against him: time to delve into files, to conduct sensitive negotiations, to control legally sensitive matters with polished statements. Trump does not like it when others steal the spotlight from him. However, he puts up with this grief because the eccentric Giuliani is doing the job for which he was hired, and that does not involve sitting at a desk.
Seeing Giuliani in front of a camera today, one would never guess that he was once an extremely successful prosecutor in the 1980s, that he brought mafia bosses, corrupt politicians and Wall Street fraudsters to jail. Any attempt to make sense of the countless interviews and aggressive statements in which he contradicts himself must fail. What we see is not a clear-headed lawyer that only admits what cannot be denied, speaking a lot and saying little while remaining consistent. Giuliani does not employ precision and control to protect his client. His method is that of a twisted fighting dog on a long leash: nobody even looks at the owner anymore when he bares his teeth.
Giuliani twists reality on its head: a few dropped sentences and everything is turned upside down. For example, the always new versions of the meeting in which Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were hoping to receive devastating information about opposing presidential candidate Hillary Clinton from Russia. Giuliani needlessly reveals details that can harm Trump. It is easy to get the impression that the attorney has no idea what he is talking about. Moreover, his loose tongue makes more trouble for Trump instead of minimizing the damage. And what should one hold onto if everything sounds different every day and one cannot even tell what is meant as a serious statement? That is precisely the point: Giuliani does not want to contribute to clarity; confusion is his goal.
‘It’s somebody’s version of the truth, not the truth’
From a legal standpoint, this spectacle is not suitable to improving Trump’s position in relation to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. His team’s negotiations with Trump's lawyers for a personal interview with the president have already been going on for a long time. Should this interview occur at some point, they must fear that Trump's version will not be believed after all the back-and-forth, all the lies. Giuliani understands this, but instead of working on his client’s credibility to make him look better, he tries to drag everyone else’s credibility down to Trump's level. The infighting over the conditions for an interview is above all a means to gain time. Giuliani is actually opposed to it.
To what extent did Trump's people collaborate with Russian officials to influence the 2016 election? What about the obstruction of justice? While the investigators are searching for the truth, the president's lawyer claims that it is in the eye of the beholder, that it does not exist — just like his boss says. Or as Giuliani stated in one of his TV appearances: “[...] it’s somebody’s version of the truth, not the truth.”
‘All they get to do is write a report’
The underlying strategy is obvious. Giuliani had already made it clear when he began working for Trump. The president did not have to worry, he said in May, because the special counsel could not prosecute him: “All they get to do is write a report.” Since a trial cannot take place, Giuliani focuses entirely on a possible impeachment based on Mueller's findings. Facts are not the only decisive factor for an impeachment process or for its outcome, according to the attorney’s recent candid statement to The New Yorker: “The thing that will decide that the most is public opinion,” so Mueller’s perception would matter just as much as Trump’s. Should the special counsel “[remain] the white knight,” Congress would be more likely to one day turn against Trump.
Giuliani's attacks on Mueller's reputation, almost equal to Trump's early morning Twitter tirades, are not the uncontrolled outbursts of an incompetent attorney. They are the best defense he can offer the president, and he does so gladly, without even demanding a fee for his work. Giuliani is fully committed to Trump. He may be one of the few real friends he has left.