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 twice, hit with three federal indictments, then charged in Georgia along with Giuliani for allegedly orchestrating a criminal conspiracy to steal the 2020 election, 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.
Here’s a running list of what Giuliani has been up to since he failed to steal a second term for Trump in 2020.
Getting indicted on the RICO law he pioneered.
While serving as Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor in the ’80s, Giuliani “all but reinvented” an 1970 anti-racketeering law, as the Wall Street Journal put it, using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to take down Mafia members. Four decades later, Giuliani was charged along with 18 other people under Georgia’s RICO law for allegedly being part of a “criminal enterprise” aimed at overturning the 2020 election results.
Giuliani was mentioned more than 50 times in the August 2023 indictment, and he and Donald Trump received the most charges, with 13 each. In addition to the RICO charges, Giuliani was hit with multiple counts of solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer, conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer, conspiracy to commit forgery, conspiracy to commit false statements and writings, and conspiracy to commit filing false documents.
Giuliani was booked on August 23, 2023 and released on $150,000 bond. He was indignant following his arraignment, telling reporters that he was “being indicted because I’m a lawyer” and predicting that Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis “will go down in American history as having conducted one of the worst attacks on the American Constitution ever when this case is dismissed.”
Repeatedly getting sued for defamation.
One lesson Giuliani is learning the hard way: Sometimes when you repeatedly claim that companies and individual were involved in an election-fraud conspiracy seemingly ripped from the TV show Scandal, they hit back.
THE DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS LAWSUITS
In 2021, Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Giuliani for allegedly carrying out a “viral disinformation campaign” that did “unprecedented and irreparable harm” to its reputation and led to harassment and death threats against its employees. Giuliani had alleged 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,” among other wild claims.
Following an unsuccessful effort to have the suit dismissed, Giuliani’s attorneys asserted in August 2021 that he “lacks knowledge or information sufficient” on the company’s voting systems to know whether his claims were defamatory or not.
While false reports that Giuliani won the suit have been circulating on social media, as of September 2023 the case was still active (Fox News paid Dominion $787.5 million to settle a similar suit in April 2023, which was the largest known defamation settlement by an American media company). Giuliani is also a defendant in a separate 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.
THE SMARTMATIC LAWSUIT
In 2021, Giuliani was also sued for defamation by Dominion rival Smartmatic, which is seeking $2.7 billion in damages. In August 2023 the voting-technology company accused Giuliani of continually fabricating “absurd” excuses to avoid turning over documents in the case. This included claiming that he lost his iPhone so he “did a manual search” of his current devices but “was not able to find” the texts the company requested.
“‘The dog ate my homework.’ ‘I have to wash my hair.’ ‘I can’t go out, I’m sick.’ Since the dawn of time, people have made up excuses to avoid doing things they do not want to do. This is exactly what Giuliani has done here,” Smartmatic wrote in a court filing, per CNN. “For months, Giuliani has made up excuses to get out of his discovery obligations. … To date, Giuliani has not produced a single non-public document responsive to the discovery requests Smartmatic issued 14 months ago.”
Smartmatic asked a New York state judge to force Giuliani to turn over the materials, pay some of its legal fees, and submit a financial declaration to back up his claim that he can’t afford to hire someone to handle the discovery request.
THE ELECTION WORKERS’ CASE
Smartmatic’s complaints are similar to those in a fourth Giuliani defamation case. In August 2023 a federal judge in Georgia declared him liable for “defamation and the intentional infliction of emotional distress” against Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss, two poll workers he falsely accused of ballot-tampering. The pair testified before Congress that they were subjected to vicious harassment following Giuliani’s accusations. The judge ordered Giuliani to forfeit the case because he had only turned over a “sliver” of the relevant documents. Though Giuliani conceded that he made false statements about the election workers, his legal team said he wasn’t admitting to wrongdoing, he just couldn’t afford to fight the case anymore.(A Giuliani spokesperson told Intelligencer that the ruling was a “prime example of the weaponization of our justice system, where the process is the punishment.”)
Giuliani was ordered to pay nearly $133,000 for Freeman’s and Moss’s attorneys fees. In papers filed on September 21, the former election workers accused Giuliani of failing to provide the information needed to collect the money. A trial to determine how much he must pay in total damages will be scheduled for the coming months. The figure could be as high as millions of dollars.
Getting sued for sexual harassment.
Incredibly, the Georgia election conspiracy case isn’t even the most disturbing legal challenge Giuliani is facing. In May 2023, Noelle Dunphy, Giuliani’s former employee, filed a civil suit accusing him of sexual assault, sexual harassment, wage theft, and abuse of power.
Dunphy, who was hired as Giuliani’s director of business development in 2019, says in the suit that it quickly became clear that “satisfying his sexual demands — which came virtually anytime, anywhere” was a job requirement. She alleges that days into her employment, Giuliani grabbed her by the hair and forced her to perform oral sex on him. Dunphy says that throughout her employment, Giuliani “often demanded that she work naked, in a bikini, or in short shorts with an American flag on them that he bought for her” and that he had her perform oral sex on him during business calls, including when he was speaking with Trump, because it made him “feel like Bill Clinton.”
The complaint says Giuliani was constantly drunk and “often made outrageous comments that created and added to the hostile work environment.” It also accuses him and Trump of selling pardons for $2 million. In August 2023 Dunphy filed transcripts of audio filings in which Giuliani makes homophobic, antisemitic, and sexually explicit remarks. The recordings have not been made public.
A Giuliani spokesman said his relationship wtih Dunphy was consensual and her allegations amount to “smears and attacks against a man who has dedicated his life to serving others.”
Getting accused of committing sexual assault during Trump’s January 6 rally.
Giuliani has also been accused of combining two of his worst alleged misdeeds by groping former Trump administration aide Cassidy Hutchinson backstage during the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally. In her memoir Enough, Hutchinson claims that Giuliani put his hand “under my blazer, then my skirt.” She writes, per the Guardian:
“I find Rudy in the back of the tent with, among others, John Eastman,” she continues. “The corners of his mouth split into a Cheshire cat smile. Waving a stack of documents, he moves towards me, like a wolf closing in on its prey.
“‘We have the evidence. It’s all here. We’re going to pull this off.’ Rudy wraps one arm around my body, closing the space that was separating us. I feel his stack of documents press into the small of my back. I lower my eyes and watch his free hand reach for the hem of my blazer.
“‘By the way,’ he says, fingering the fabric, ‘I’m loving this leather jacket on you.’ His hand slips under my blazer, then my skirt,” Hutchinson writes.
Giuliani denied her claims in a Newsmax interview, calling them, “Completely, absolutely false. Totally absurd.”
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 FBI raided Giuliani’s home and office in spring 2021, 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 more than $250 million in the final months of his presidency 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.”
Giuliani reportedly traveled to Mar-a-Lago in spring 2023 and begged Trump to help him with his legal bills. Trump agree to cover a tiny fraction of his debt and to headline a $100,00-per-plate fundraiser for Giuliani’s legal defense, but he still won’t pay him for his legal services.
Thus, Giuliani has been forced to fend for himself — and 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.
Losing his law licenses.
Why doesn’t Giuliani just get a job to cover his legal fees? Well, he can’t.
In June 2021, Giuliani’s law license was suspended in New York over his 2020 election lies, 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. His license to practice law in D.C. was suspended a month later.
Giuliani insisted on his WABC-AM radio show that he did not commit any offenses worthy of disbarment —- in fact, “The bar association should give me an award,” he said. “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.”
Making embarrassing video appearances.
Giuliani has tried to raise money via Cameo, the service that allows people to commission personalized videos from celebrities. This quickly generated new controversy when he recorded a video that appeared to endorse the case against his own legal client.
Many other video appearances were personally embarrassing, though there is little chance they’ll result in more legal trouble. In 2022, Giuliani 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 sounded sweet, but it also made no sense since he has a well-documented history of doing things just like this.
Hawking discount sandals.
MyPillow products were pulled from Walmart’s shelves, but they weren’t “cancelled” on Rudy Giuliani’s Twitter feed.
Getting dunked on by the House January 6 committee.
While Giuliani is clearly perfectly capable of embarrassing himself, in June 2022 the House January 6 Committee devoted a whole day to humiliating him.
Representative Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice-chair, said witness testimony revealed that Trump ignored his advisers on Election Night 2020 “and instead followed the course recommended by an apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani to just claim he won.”
The committee played montages of Giuliani spouting election lies in TV interviews and other witnesses saying they wanted nothing to do with his zany claims.
Following months of negotiations over whether Giuliani would appear before the panel, he testified virtually for roughly nine hours. This yielded a clip in which he admitted to calling fellow Trump attorneys “a bunch of pussies” during a particularly unhinged six-hour Oval Office meeting.
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.)
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):
Insisting that he doesn’t have a drinking problem.
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.”
When Giuliani’s allegedly drunken advice to President Trump to just declare victory on Election Night 2020 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”
It seems Special Counsel Jack Smith wasn’t convinced. As part of the investigation into Trump’s alleged effort to overturn the 2020 election, federal prosecutors have been grilling witnesses on Giuliani’s Election Night drinking. Rolling Stone reported that if it was widely known that Giuliani was inebriated prosecutors could argue that he was behaving with willful recklessness by following his advice.
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.
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 were 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 2022 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, 2022 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.
This post has been updated throughout.