Twenty years ago Rudy Giuliani was riding the crest of a wave, having helped rid New York City of its mafia bosses and its streets of drug dealers, prostitutes and addicts.
Then came 9/11 and in the aftermath it was Giuliani the New York mayor who led his broken city and a wounded nation out of darkness.
Beside bewildered president George W. Bush, Giuliani appeared capable and confident, earning the nickname “America’s mayor”.
That year, Time magazine put him on the cover as its Person of the Year and he won an honorary British knighthood in 2002.
Fast forward almost two decades and 2020 is proving to be Giuliani’s annus horribilis, in which his fall from grace on several fronts may prove unrecoverable for the 76-year-old.
The once tough prosecutor has become a national embarrassment, with his humiliating cameo in the latest Borat film, a sad hair dye fail and asinine urgings of a Donald Trump electoral victory.
Now Giuliani has been sidelined, albeit temporarily, from his lucrative job as Trump’s personal lawyer, but some speculate the move may be permanent, adding him to the towering pile of presidential sackings.
With Giuliani’s son and fellow White House adviser Andrew having tested positive to Covid-19, another campaign lawyer has replaced infected members of Giuliani’s team.
But as one of the last men in America standing to argue the President’s claims of electoral fraud, Giuliani may yet earn banishment from the law, the very thing that has been the backbone of his professional life.
Calls to have the veteran lawyer disbarred, alarm over his massive US$20,000 (NZ$28,466)-a-day fee and disquiet over his role in a Ukrainian conspiracy to implicate Joe Biden’s son Hunter are swirling around Giuliani.
His credibility is not helped by the fact there is now on YouTube a Borat video of Giuliani lying back in a hotel room with a young blonde woman apparently unzipping his trousers.
So where did it all go wrong?
Among his more than 4000 convictions were Wall Street’s Ivan Boesky for insider trading and Michael Milken for fraud, but it was his indictment of 11 Mafia bosses from New York’s Five Families syndicate which made Giuliani’s name.
Among the men prosecuted – Gambino, Genovese, Colombo, Lucchese, Gotti – some were in favour of a contract on Giuliani’s life.
In 1989, he ran for New York mayor, but lost, running again in 1993 and winning by a small margin to become New York’s the first Republican mayor since 1965.
With the city’s police commissioner Bill Bratton, Giuliani instituted the Zero Tolerance policy of cracking down of minor offences such as cannabis possession and fare evasion to gain a wider control on crime.
Crime rates had already dropped in New York and continued to do so, with Giuliani taking full credit, but police shootings and civil rights abuses of African-Americans blotted his copybook.
Times Square, a haven for drug dealing, prostitution and vice, was cleaned up and began its path to the tourist trap it is today.
After the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Giuliani stepped up to the plate, saying: “We’re going to rebuild, we’re going to be stronger than we were before … terrorism can’t stop us.”
He said New Yorkers would be “an example to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world”.
Oprah Winfrey dubbed him “America’s mayor” at a 9/11 memorial service at Yankee Stadium two weeks after the attacks, and he got the Time magazine cover and the knighthood.
Critics have since claimed Giuliani exaggerated his role and hero status for political gain.
They say he downplayed the ongoing health effects of 9/11, tried to reopen lower Manhattan too quickly and tried to limit the city’s financial liability for Ground Zero illnesses.
Around this time, Giuliani left his wife and mother of his two children, Donna Hanover, and appointed his girlfriend, Judith Nathan, to his advisory team.
The scandal would make the front page of the New York Post, when Hanover won a restraining order against Nathan from Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence.
In the 2000s, Giuliani began working as professional Republican campaigner for candidates such as George W. Bush in his 2004 re-election, and New York Governor George Pataki.
In 2007, he announced on Larry King Live that he was running for the US presidency, but he flunked the Republican primaries and dropped out, endorsing John McCain.
After Barack Obama’s victory, Giuliani retreated to New York to run his security consulting business, Giuliani Partners, and by 2011 had ditched his plans of running again for president.
After publicly claiming Obama “doesn’t love America” in 2015, he began campaigning for Donald Trump.
In Trump’s 2016 campaign, Giuliani dismissed claims of sexual assault, tax evasion and racism against Trump.
Despite his post-9/11 role during the Bush presidency, Giuliani publicly suggested radical Islamic terrorism had come to the US during Obama’s administration.
Just before his inauguration, Trump appointed Giuliani an informal adviser on cybersecurity.
In April 2018, Trump replaced his personal lawyer Michael Cohen with Giuliani, who duly announced the President had reimbursed Cohen for paying porn actress Stormy Daniels hush money.
Giuliani retracted his statements, Trump claimed no knowledge of the payments nor of an alleged affair with Daniels, and Cohen went to jail.
Cohen has since written a book and claims that Trump could be prosecuted over payments to silence Daniels and another woman he had an affair with once his presidential immunity is gone.
Giuliani worked on Trump’s legal team in the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and argued the President should not testify.
Last year, Giuliani began urging an investigation into the Ukrainian oil company which once had Hunter Biden, President-elect Joe Biden’s son, on its board.
Two Soviet-born Americans, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were Giuliani’s go-betweens with the Ukrainian Government, have since been charged with campaign finance violations.
When Joe Biden was widely announced as the winner of the US presidential election, just days after Trump had falsely claimed he won, the President put Giuliani in charge of the lawsuits alleging voting fraud.
Trump made Giuliani head of an “elite strike force” which included lawyer Sidney Powell.
Giuliani applied to the federal court of Pennsylvania, a state in which he is not registered to practise law.
He further claimed he had evidence of voting irregularities and election official misconduct in that state and in Michigan.
In Pennsylvania his legal argument was described as “disgraceful in an American courtroom”.
On November 19, Giuliani and Powell held a press conference claiming multiple voter fraud cases in key states.
Powell declared an unfounded international communist plot to rig the election involving Venezuela, Cuba, China and the Clinton Foundation.
She has since made further ludicrous claims and Trump’s camp has severed ties with her.
Last Friday, just as the Trump team was preparing to meet with Michigan politicians in the White House to discuss the vote count, Giuliani withdrew from the meeting.
Axios.com reported that he would not attend the meeting because he’d had contact with his son, Andrew, who had contracted Covid-19.
Since that meeting, early this week, Trump appeared to be conceding Biden had won the election and the transition finally appeared to be on track.
But even as this was happening, on Twitter Giuliani was continuing to make what critics have called a “humiliating” series of claims.
On Tuesday, he was still tweeting about “compelling allegations of voting irregularities in 2020 election” and “multiple pathways to victory”.
A tweet about “fraudulently backdated mail-in votes” and “evidence of irregularities … nationwide” attracted the now-common Twitter disclaimer: “This claim about election fraud is dispute.”
On Twitter, there was speculation that the President would sack Giuliani. Regardless, his reputation as a lawyer has been put at risk.
During Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia, Giuliani said he wasn’t paid for his legal representation of the President.
However, it has now been revealed that he had earned the massive sum of US$20,000 a day.
Democrat congressman from New Jersey Bill Pascrell is now seeking to have Giuliani disbarred over his attempts to overturn the election.
“Mr Giuliani has participated in frivolous lawsuits and used our nation’s courts to assault public confidence in the electoral system,” Pascrell said.
None of this can have been helped by Giuliani’s recent performances, whether on behalf of Trump or of his own accord.
In the latest Borat movie, Giuliani was tricked by an actress hired by writer-producer Sacha Baron Cohen posing as a TV journalist.
After a fake interview about Covid-19, the woman asks Giuliani for a drink in a hotel suite where there were hidden cameras.
After she removes his microphone, he can be see lying back, fiddling with his trousers, until Borat [Cohen] runs in saying, “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”
Giuliani’s tweeted response when the footage was aired was: “I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment.
“At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar.”
Then there was the press conference in the car park of a Philadelphia landscaping company on November 7.
It was originally billed as a major press event at Philadelphia’s Four Seasons Hotel, but when Giuliani rolled up to the microphone he was mercilessly mocked.
The President’s tweet promoting a “big press conference” turned out to be at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a family business between a crematorium and an adult book store on the city outskirts.
Giuliani was not done yet.
Last week, another press conference about election vote claims was held, this time at Republican National Headquarters in Washington DC.
While media expected Giuliani to push baseless claims about election fraud and dispute the results of the 2020 United States presidential election, that didn’t turn out to be the focus.
Sweating and exhorting detractors of Trump’s claims to victory, Giuliani began pouring with the residue of a recent and badly applied hair dye job.
Brown rivulets dripped down his face as he raved on, oblivious.
When aides alerted him to his appearance, he mopped his face and carried on, the streams running into and staining his shirt collar.
Giuliani is now openly mocked on Twitter, Trump’s favourite social media platform, and that cannot be good for his immediate or long-term future.
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