After his election antics last year, it should be beyond serious debate that Rudy Giuliani is a liar. Even so, it’s startling to read how casually former President Donald Trump’s lawyer admitted to federal agents that he lied to the public during Trump’s earlier election campaign of 2016. The revelations, in newly released Justice Department documents, show how Trump’s inner circle regarded public dishonesty as smart strategy and nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s okay, as Giuliani put it, to “throw a fake.”
What an interesting philosophy from the political camp that popularized the phrase “fake news” to attack factual reporting in mainstream journalism. It should also be of interest to plaintiffs suing Giuliani for his flurry of lies on Trump’s behalf during the 2020 campaign, and to professional organizations considering whether he should lose his law license for that behavior.
In February 2018, the documents show, Giuliani was interviewed by agents with the Justice Department. They were trying to determine if the FBI leaked information to Giuliani in the run-up to the 2016 election, while he was stumping for then-candidate Trump. The reason they suspected it was that Giuliani himself had publicly implied it. Giuliani’s own words lent credence to the suspicion that FBI agents had tipped him off in advance to the decision by then-FBI Director James Comey to reopen an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton shortly before the election.
Lying to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and others in the media isn’t illegal, but lying to federal agents is. Which may explain why Giuliani pulled back on his self-serving lie when the agents interviewed him about it. He didn’t get any inside information, he told them, though he’d teased that lie in interviews at the time. He casually admitted lying to Blitzer — and, in the process, to America — about having met with FBI sources “eight to 10 months” earlier.
“Yeah I mean I just picked a number out of the air,” Giuliani told the agents. Earlier in the same interview, Giuliani’s then-law partner and counselor, Marc Mukasey, opined, “You’re under no obligation to tell the truth” while campaigning for a candidate.
Giuliani would again demonstrate that twisted philosophy after last year’s election. In multiple news conferences and court hearings, he alleged with zero evidence that Trump’s loss was the result of rampant fraud — helping motivate the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Among the lies he promoted was an unhinged conspiracy theory alleging that Dominion Voting Systems changed votes to swing the election. There’s no evidence of this whatsoever; even Giuliani isn’t currently claiming there is.
Dominion is now suing Giuliani and others for $3 billion. An appellate court in June suspended him from practicing law in New York for his promotion of demonstrably false election-fraud lies. Full disbarment remains a hopeful possibility. The legal profession and the nation has had enough of this man’s fake news.