As news broke on Friday that Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz would be joining President Trump’s legal team for the Senate impeachment trial, Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, tweeted, “Please add Rudy. Please.”
Bharara and The Resistance and anybody on the sidelines who lives for drama has something in common with the former mayor: we all want him to be a part of the president’s defense.
The last time New York caught up with Giuliani, over bloody marys at The Mark Hotel in December, the trial was on his mind. He talked wistfully about his days as a prosecutor. He said he knew how to crack witnesses, knew how to defend the president better than anybody else.
“I hate to sound like a ridiculously boastful lawyer,” he said. “It’s the thing I do best as a lawyer.” He claimed the structure of the defense was being sorted out by Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell. Earlier this week, CNN reported that Giuliani has been “lobbying” to join the team.
On Friday, Giuliani told New York that the decision to include Starr and Dershowitz was “excellent,” because, “one has been through impeachment and other is an expert on Constitution.” Starr served as the independent counsel during Bill Clinton’s impeachment, and Dershowitz is a Harvard Law professor famous for representing the infamous. (Both men worked for Jeffrey Epstein).
Asked for an update on his own participation in the trial, Giuliani said, “I am a potential fact witness. I think very potential but still leaves you unable to appear.”
But Graham and McConnell both told New York that Giuliani has never come up in discussions with the president about who will serve on his legal team.
Reached by phone early Friday evening, Graham said that, in his conversations with Trump, he’s stressed the importance of presenting the case in nonpartisan terms, though wasn’t sure that Trump would listen to him in the end. “We’ll see! We’ll see in the coming days!” he said, laughing.
But he was hopeful. “I think he’s got a good team, but nobody’s ever asked me about having Rudy be a part of it,” Graham said.
The president did ask Graham for his opinion on Dershowitz, Pam Bondi, and Jane Raskin, however.
“It’s the president who determines who his team is. He asked me about different lawyers, and how that helps. You know, you’ve got a handful of persuadables on both sides, so your legal team has to be set up in a fashion to maximize your votes if you’re President Trump,” Graham said. “Dershowitz seems to be above politics in the traditional sense… a guy like him can talk about the ramifications to the presidency as an institution.”
He added that it was important to “get out of the red, blue team stuff.” For instance, Jay Sekulow, the president’s other personal attorney, “is a constitutional lawyer and well respected conservative, so people on our side know him.” But for an impeachment trial, “the best case for the president to make is that it’s about the office, not just him. That the office would be diminished if either one of these articles were ever approved. That’s been my pitch. The more it’s not tainted by all the battles we’re in, the better.”
A spokesman for McConnell also told New York, “The leader never had a discussion about Rudy.”
When asked if he’d spoken to the president lately, Giuliani claimed that he doesn’t discuss his conversations with his client—which isn’t true. I told him that he in fact often does discuss them “When I clear them,” he said. “And after your article I have no reason to push the envelope with you.”
He wouldn’t say whether he was feeling betrayed lately, with his associate Lev Parnas campaigning against him in the media. “Not commenting,” he said, before commenting: “He is only hurting himself. No reason to add to it. It will all work out.”