In July 2019, Rudy Giuliani called me to dispute an Intelligencer piece that said he’d cursed during an appearance on Fox & Friends. The president’s personal lawyer insisted that he’d caught himself, merely uttering “bullsh—.” Giuliani shrugged off the piece’s generally disparaging tone as “mostly opinion” but remarked: “You guys seem to think I’m doing a terrible job, but given the fact that I got the president cleared of all the charges, I don’t think I made that many mistakes.”
At the time, Giuliani was flying high: He was on Fox News to mock (and impersonate!) Robert Mueller as the special counsel’s congressional hearings fizzled. Given the fact that Donald Trump was impeached five months later, then impeached again after losing an election he tried his damnedest to steal, recent reviews of Giuliani’s performance haven’t been kind. But, say what you will, America’s Mayor never stops delivering his distinct brand of conspiratorial quackery. Any Trump surrogate can spread election lies that threaten the very foundations of our democracy. But only Rudy can do it with hair dye streaming down the side of his face.
Let’s take a look at what Giuliani has been doing with his time now that he’s no longer representing Trump.
Blaming Bill Clinton for 9/11
Somewhat surprisingly, there weren’t many headlines about Giuliani’s controversial opinions on 9/11 in the lead up to the 20th anniversary of the attacks. But that’s not because he wasn’t airing them. In an interview with TV station WTTG in September 2021, he suggested that 9/11 happened because Bill Clinton is a “sucker.” Per Raw Story:
“To break our spirit, to demoralize us, you take our financial center, our military center, our political center all in one shot,” the former mayor explained. “And those weak Americans — remember, [Al Qaeda] had attacked us a couple of times and declared war against us, and basically Bill Clinton kind of did what Biden just did.”
“You know, a little strike here, a little strike there, a couple of fields that had no people in it,” he continued. “All that said to [Osama bin Laden] is, ‘I’ve got a sucker on my hands. I can hit this guy and who knows. I might not get anything.’”
Over the years, Giuliani has repeatedly criticized Bill Clinton in particular for failing to stop Al Qaeda, rather than focusing his ire on, say, the guy who was president during the eight months leading up to the attacks, or the entire U.S. intelligence community. This seems a tad unfair, but don’t take my word for it. As a former New York City mayor said in 2006: “The idea of trying to cast blame on President Clinton is just wrong for many, many reasons, not the least of which is I don’t think he deserves it.” (Yup, it was Giuliani.)
Possibly getting banned from Fox News
On September 24, 2021, Politico shed some light on the curious lack of Giuliani commentary in the lead up to 9/11. He reportedly learned on the eve of the anniversary that he’d been secretly banned from the network for several months. Per Playbook:
Giuliani was slated to appear on “Fox & Friends” to mark the 20th anniversary of the attack. But the night before, host PETE HEGSETH called Giuliani to say he’d been cut from the show and apologize.
The ban extends not just to GIULIANI, but also to his son ANDREW, who has not been on Fox News since he launched his campaign for governor of New York in May despite many requests to go on the network. His team has been frustrated that rival GOP gubernatorial candidate Rep. LEE ZELDIN is a frequent guest.
But bookers have told both Giulianis the ban comes from the top, sources said. The former New York City mayor had been a fixture on the network.
A source said Giuliani was “really hurt,” as he helped get Fox News on New York City’s cable provider when it first launched in the mid-’90s.
A Fox News spokesperson denied that Rudy Giuliani was ever scheduled to appear on Fox & Friends on September 11, and declined to comment on whether he is banned from appearing on the network. They also noted that Andrew Giuliani has appeared on the network multiple times since he announced his run for governor.
Impersonating Queen Elizabeth and denying he ever hung out with Prince Andrew
At his annual 9/11 dinner in 2021, Giuliani gave a rambling speech in Manhattan during which he claimed he had turned down an offer of knighthood from Queen Elizabeth. He also attempted to impersonate her and went off on a tangent where he vehemently denied hanging with Prince Andrew (or joining him for any alleged sex trafficking):
Getting sued over his false election-fraud claims
One lesson Giuliani is learning the hard way: Sometimes when you say a company was engaged in election-fraud conspiracy theories seemingly ripped from the TV show Scandal, the company hits back. In January 2021, Dominion Voting System filed a $1.3 billion lawsuit against the president’s former lawyer, alleging that his claims — that Dominion was “created in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chávez” and “flipped votes from Trump to Biden by running an algorithm that automatically flips all the votes” — amount to defamation. In its lawsuit, Dominion accused Giuliani of perpetuating a “viral disinformation campaign” that did “unprecedented and irreparable harm” to its reputation and led to harassment and death threats against its employees.
Following an unsuccessful effort to have the suit dismissed, Giuliani doubled down on his wild claims. In an August 2021 court filing, Giuliani’s attorneys asserted that “some and/or all of Giuliani’s statements complained of are substantially true” — though he also “lacks knowledge or information sufficient” on the company’s voting systems to know whether his claims were defamatory or not.
As of August 2022, the Dominion suit against Giuliani was still ongoing (as was Dominion’s separate defamation suit against the Fox Corporation, which “could be one of the most consequential First Amendment cases in a generation,” according to the New York Times). Giuliani is also a defendant in another defamation suit filed by Eric Coomer, a former Dominion Voting Systems executive, who says he was falsely accused of being involved in a plot to rig the 2020 election.
Waiting to see if he’ll face criminal charges
Facing multiple defamation suits would probably be the low point of any normal person’s year, but Giuliani has far bigger legal concerns. In July 2022, a judge ordered him to testify before a special grand jury investigating potential election interference in Georgia’s 2020 election. On August 15, Giuliani’s legal team revealed that he has been named a target of the Fulton County, Georgia probe, which could lead to a recommendation for criminal prosecution.
The case grew out of an investigation into two former Giuliani associates, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas. Fruman pleaded guilty to soliciting campaign contributions from a foreign national in September 2021; four months later he was fined $10,000 and sentenced to one year in prison. Parnas, who initially pleaded not guilty to similar charges, was convicted on all counts in October 2021. He changed his plea to guilty on a conspiracy count in March 2022. On June 29, he was sentenced to 20 months in prison.
Losing his law licenses
In the summer of 2021, Giuliani’s law license was temporarily suspended in New York and then D.C. over lies he told as part of his effort to steal the 2020 election for Trump, conduct that an appellate court said represented an “immediate threat” to the public. The New York State appellate court concluded that Giuliani “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large” in his capacity as President Trump’s personal lawyer, and “these false statements were made to improperly bolster respondent’s narrative that due to widespread voter fraud, victory in the 2020 United States presidential election was stolen from his client.”
While the court has yet to make its final ruling, it warned that “permanent sanctions” are likely. Nevertheless Giuliani’s attorneys said, “We believe that once the issues are fully explored at a hearing Mr. Giuliani will be reinstated as a valued member of the legal profession that he has served so well in his many capacities for so many years.”
The former mayor was characteristically less tactful in his response, telling radio station WABC-AM, “The bar association should give me an award … I defended an unpopular client. I’ve been threatened with death. I’ve had a good deal of my income taken away. I’ve lost friends over it.”
“This is happening to shut me up,” he added. “They want Giuliani quiet.”
Getting stiffed by Donald Trump
When faced with serious legal trouble, it helps to have friends in high places. Unfortunately for Giuliani, his richest and most powerful friend is Donald Trump. Shortly after the raid on Giuliani’s home and office, the New York Times reported that his advisers were pressing the Trump team to help with his mounting legal fees. Giuliani was never paid for leading the legal prong of Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, though the former president raised $250 million since Election Day by telling supporters he needed money for his “Election Defense Fund.” Bernard Kerik, the former NYPD commissioner, openly complained that the GOP was abandoning his pal Rudy in his hour of need:
But according to the Times, the order to bilk Giuliani came right from the top:
Mr. Trump later told his advisers he did not want Mr. Giuliani to receive any payment, according to people close to the former president with direct knowledge of the discussions. Before Mr. Trump left the White House in January, he agreed to reimburse Mr. Giuliani for more than $200,000 in expenses but not to pay a fee.
Some of Mr. Giuliani’s supporters have blamed Mr. Trump’s aides — and not the former president — for the standoff. However, people close to Mr. Trump said he has stridently refused to pay Mr. Giuliani.
Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in federal prison in 2018 for crimes related to his work with the former president, noted that he habitually stiffs attorneys. “Donald Trump wouldn’t pay [Giuliani] two cents,” Cohen told MSNBC. “His feeling is, it is an honor and a privilege to go to prison for him, to do his dirty work.”
Thus, Giuliani has been forced to fend for himself — and it seems his efforts have been largely unsuccessful. A “Rudy Giuliani Legal Defense Fund” launched in June 2021 with the goal of raising $5 million in two months, but the online fundraising effort shuttered a month later after bringing in just $9,798. And Giuliani’s foray into Cameo, the service that allows people to commission personalized videos from celebrities, quickly generated new controversy when he recorded a video that appeared to endorse the case against his own legal client.
Insisting that he doesn’t have a drinking problem
It seems Giuliani gave NBC New York far more than they could have hoped for when they asked to interview him in August 2021 at the World Trade Center Memorial. The resulting piece is exquisite; I wish I could send it to my past self as I was cranking out blog posts analyzing the viability of a Giuliani presidential bid.
- Giuliani saying he’s aware that people think he’s gone off the rails in recent years, but in reality, “what’s happened is, our country has gone off the rails!”
- Giuliani declaring that the Feds “can torture me all they want. They can put me in prison.” Could he be resigning himself to the “privilege” of being incarcerated for Trump, as Michael Cohen put it?
- Giuiliani denying reports that a drinking problem is to blame for the shift away from his “America’s Mayor” persona, and that he’s talked to reporters while inebriated. “I don’t think I’ve ever done an interview drunk. I mean, I drink normally. I like Scotch, I drink Scotch,” he said. “I’m not an alcoholic. I’m a functioning — I probably function more effectively than 90 percent of the population.”
Ten months later, Giuliani’s allegedly drunken advice to President Trump to just declare victory on Election Night 2020, though votes were still being counted, became a focus of the January 6 hearings. He denied that he was drinking, tweeting, “I REFUSED all alcohol that evening. My favorite drink..Diet Pepsi”
Shaving in an airport restaurant
Rudy Giuliani’s personal grooming habits are already the stuff of legend, but he topped himself on August 22, 2021, when he was spotted shaving his face in the Delta One lounge at JFK airport. Traveler Nick Weiss shared footage on Instagram of the former mayor eating a bowl of lobster bisque, being served a plate of brownies, then pulling out an electric razor and shaving at the table using his tablet camera as a mirror. Weiss said what made the incident even more bizarre was that the lounge had “a really nice bathroom.”
“I was delighted and horrified,” Weiss told CNN, summing up the both the shaving incident and the entire Rudy Giuliani experience.
Making risky video appearances
The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack was quite keen on talking to Giuliani since he was involved in multiple aspects of Trump’s effort to steal the 2020 election. Following months of negotiations, Giuliani canceled on the committee at the last minute because it would not let him record his interview, raising the possibility that he would be held in contempt. But on May 20, 2022, Giuliani finally appeared virtually before the panel, testifying for roughly nine hours.
Giuliani’s other recent video appearances have been personally embarrassing, though there is little chance they’ll result in more legal trouble. That same spring, he accidentally posted a video of himself promoting his Cameo in gigantic shorts:
Giuliani said he agreed to appear on the reality show because he “just had a granddaughter, Grace, and I want her to know that you should try everything, even things that are completely unlike you and unlikely, and I couldn’t think of anything more unlikely and unlike me than this.” That sounds sweet, but it also makes no sense since he has a well-documented history of doing things just like this.
Arguing with parade hecklers
Two days after testifying before the House January 6 panel, Giuliani blew off some steam by arguing with random New Yorkers while marching in the Jewish Community Relations Council’s Celebrate Israel Parade.
Parts of the exchange are unintelligible, but it appears that a woman heckled Giuliani as he passed, and he stopped to defend his record as mayor and hurl insults back at her. Giuliani walked up to the barricade and yelled, “You are a jackass,” “You are a brainwashed asshole,” and “You are probably as demented as Biden.”
America’s Mayor is as charming as ever.
Trying to usher in a new Giuliani era
The former mayor hit the campaign trail across New York state in June an unsuccessful effort to get his son, Andrew Giuliani, elected governor. It’s possible America’s Mayor did more harm than good, as Politico noted:
The father’s stops have had their share of gaffes, too. On Wednesday, he repeatedly said next week’s primary was in January, and he mixed up the Capitol insurrection with the attacks on 9/11.
To bolster his argument that the Capitol attacks have been unfairly portrayed, he pointed to a conclusion that a police officer who had died from a stroke shortly the day after the attack died of natural causes — but then twisted up the events.
“The first story was that four cops were killed during September 11,” Giuliani said. “No cops were killed during September 11, not a single one.”
Sixty New York City and Port Authority police officers died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Getting slapped and living to tell the tale (again and again)
While Giuliani was handing out flyers for his son’s campaign at a Staten Island Shoprite on June 26, an employee slapped the former mayor on the back and said, “What’s up, scumbag?”
The grocery-store worker, Daniel Gill, was arrested and initially charged with assault of someone 65 or older, a second-degree felony. A day later, the charges against Gill were downgraded to third-degree assault, third-degree menacing, and second-degree harassment.
During numerous media appearances about the incident, Giuliani said the slap felt “as if a boulder hit me” and suggested he narrowly avoided serious injury.
“All of a sudden, I feel a shot on my back — like somebody shot me,” he said on Curtis Sliwa’s radio show. “I went forward, but luckily I didn’t fall down. Lucky I’m a 78-year-old who’s in pretty good shape, because if I wasn’t, I’d have hit the ground and probably cracked my skull.”
Many questioned whether video of the incident really matched Giuliani’s description:
But Giuliani cautioned that you can’t always believe what you see. “The videotape that you see probably is a little deceptive because it just shows that hand on my back,” he said.
Hawking discount sandals
MyPillow products may have been pulled from Walmart’s shelves, but they certainly aren’t “cancelled” on Rudy Giuliani’s Twitter feed.
This post has been updated throughout.