The House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack has been getting closer to Donald Trump’s inner circle, recently interviewing Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner, along with 800 other witnesses. And the panel had another huge “get” set for Friday: virtual testimony from Rudy Giuliani. President Trump’s personal attorney could shed light on many aspects of the attempted election coup: He privately strategized ways to block Joe Biden’s certification, told January 6 rallygoers that the election should be settled via “trial by combat,” and promoted election conspiracy theories so relentlessly that his own hair dye tried to distance itself from him. But on Thursday, Giuliani abruptly canceled his appearance.
“Mr. Giuliani is an important witness to the conspiracy to overthrow the government and he remains under subpoena,” committee spokesperson Tim Mulvey said, per Politico. “If he refuses to comply the committee will consider all enforcement options.”
Presumably one of those options is for the panel to hold Giuliani in contempt, as it did with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former trade adviser Peter Navarro, and Trump social-media manager Dan Scavino. But Robert Costello, Giuliani’s attorney, said that both sides are still talking.
Giuliani canceled his appearance, which was the result of months of negotiation, because the committee rejected his request on Thursday to record the interview. Mulvey said that was “was never an agreed-upon condition.”
The former New York mayor’s reasons for making that last-minute demand are unclear. On Friday, he claimed on Twitter that he’s worried about the panel leaking his words out of context.
But The Guardian reported that he wanted to “ensure he might not be caught in a perjury trap in a potential subsequent investigation,” according to a source close to Giuliani. And further legal trouble is certainly on Giuliani’s mind, as he is still facing a billion-dollar defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems over his false election-fraud claims, and waiting to see if the Southern District of New York will file criminal charges against him. (As The Guardian notes, Giuliani’s cooperation deal with the January 6 panel would also include turning over documents, “but the logistics were unclear given the FBI last year seized his devices that he used on January 6.”)
Another possible explanation: Recording himself is just Giuliani’s thing now. He’s always been a showboat, as he demonstrated early on by hosting SNL in 1997 and doing a weird comedy sketch with Trump in 2000. In recent years, Giuliani has been monetizing his flair for performance; a few weeks ago he showed up on The Masked Singer. Even more recently, he tweeted, and then deleted, a video promoting his Cameo account, where you can nab a personal message from the ex-president’s attorney for $325.
In this respect, Giuliani has a lot in common with Madonna (the pop star whom he wanted questioned by the Secret Service, not the religious figure whose dung-adorned portrait he tried to ban). As then-boyfriend Warren Beatty famously said of Madonna in her Truth or Dare documentary, “She doesn’t want to live off-camera, much less talk. There’s nothing to say off-camera. Why would you say something if it’s off-camera? What point is there existing?”
If the House wants the skinny on what Giuliani knows about January 6, they can turn on the cameras (or wait until he butt-dials them).