There’s some backstory to the current Rudy Giuliani drama I’d like to share.
After he left the mayoralty at the end of 2001 Giuliani made tens of millions of dollars on his reputation as “America’s Mayor” and a 9/11-based terrorism and security expert under the shingle Giuliani Partners. In the nature of things that rep was more valuable abroad than at home. He cashed in big time. That went on for about 15 years with a brief timeout for his failed 2008 presidential bid. He also had his own law firm Bracewell Giuliani, before leaving the firm to join Greenberg Traurig in 2016.
A few times, mostly as a reporter and once personally, I crossed paths with Rudy’s work. As I’ve written before, very, very little of this is what could in any sense be called lawyering. Most of it seems to have been a mix of lobbying, influence-peddling, reputation-selling and high stakes bullying. Over these fifteen years Giuliani seems to have acculturated himself to a world suffused in both corruption and impunity. The stage was set for what came next. (Here’s a 2016 Post piece about the history of the firm, which can generously be called dubious and opaque, and the reporters’ efforts to find out just what the firm did.)
In the nature of the things, by 2015 and 2016, the 9/11 juice, for lack of a better word, was getting thin. Donald Trump’s election and his close association with Giuliani turbocharged Giuliani’s ability to make money abroad from mobsters, plutocrats, foreign governments, plutocrats closely allied to dictators. In the great majority of these cases, Giuliani was selling services he had no clear ability to provide. Either he subcontracted the work, the work was actually influence peddling or possibly there was no work at all. When he became the President’s “private lawyer” his saleability skyrocketed.
When Trump was elected, Giuliani was 72 years old. Over the previous dozen-plus years he had made more than enough money to live in palatial comfort for life and set up his heirs in similar fashion. How much of that money he still had is entirely unclear to me. He pushed everything into overdrive.
Back in September, Josh Kovensky put together this map and list of all the countries Giuliani had visited for “consulting” work or other payments just since he signed on as Trump’s private lawyer. He came up with nine: Armenia, Ukraine, Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar, Israel, Albania, France and Poland. There’s little reason to believe this list is complete. This is just what Josh could come up with based on published reports. Obviously, Giuliani is a private individual. He doesn’t have to tell anyone where he goes or who he meets with.
According to Josh, Giuliani had been doing business in Ukraine long before Trump’s ascent to power. We’re now learning the full measure of his work there in the last two years. There’s what he did for Trump, which we’re learning a fair amount about. But as we’re learning at each stage in the process he was also trying to set up “consulting” deals with almost everyone whose path he crossed. As we know, these included oligarchs with notorious ties to organized crime, crooked pols, Ukrainian-American con-men. Even on the basis of what is currently known publicly it’s difficult to imagine him not facing extensive federal corruption charges. It’s simply hard to play in the domain he was operating in without committing lots of felonies. And he doesn’t seem to have been concerned about doing so.