Rudy Giuliani’s Support Role in the Mueller Report

As I showed in the Rat-Fucker Rashomon series, it can be tremendously useful to compare how different inquiries into Russian interference in 2016 tell that story. That’s true not just of Roger Stone; it’s also true of Rudy Giuliani.

By the time SSCI finished its Russia Report, the shape of the 2020 Russian influence campaign was evident, and it shows up, in redacted form, in the final report. As part of that discussion, the SSCI Report deals with Rudy at least once in almost entirely redacted passages about the ongoing influence campaign involving Russian assets in Ukraine. That is, it clearly suggests the trajectory led to the influence campaigns that were still active in 2020.

Perhaps because SSCI had the advantage of seeing where Rudy would end up, it also included a few more details about Rudy from earlier on of interest. For example, before Paul Manafort discussed how to win Pennsylvania and how to carve up Ukraine on August 2, 2016, he met with Trump and Rudy Giuliani in Trump Tower.

Among the details SSCI shows of the Trump campaign exploiting documents leaked to WikiLeaks is a citation to an email, dated October 11, 2016, showing Rudy was in that loop.

When Rick Gates was asked what kind of contact Paul Manafort retained with Trump after he was ousted from the campaign, Gates revealed that Manafort told Gates that Rudy Giuliani was helping him place people in Administration positions.

And PsyGroup’s Joel Zamel claimed that Rudy introduced him to Jared Kushner some months after the inauguration; Kushner and Zamel had a meeting at the White House to discuss “human rights issues in the Middle East, Iran, and ‘counter-extremism’.”

Aside from the detail that Manafort was using Rudy as a side channel to influence the White House, those aren’t necessarily momentous details.

Still, those details show that Rudy was a participant in these events during 2016. And yet, Rudy doesn’t show up as such in discussions about 2016 in the Mueller Report. Rather, Rudy shows up exclusively as Trump’s lawyer, floating the pardons in an attempt to get witnesses to lie to cover up what really happened in 2016.

Rudy — who was not yet formally Trump’s personal counsel — and his current defense attorney, Robert Costello, didn’t succeed in getting Michael Cohen to shield Trump.

On or about April 17, 2018, Cohen began speaking with an attorney, Robert Costello, who had a close relationship with Rudolph Giuliani, one of the President’s personal lawyers. 1022 Costello told Cohen that he had a “back channel of communication” to Giuliani, and that Giuliani had said the “channel” was “crucial” and “must be maintained.” 1023 On April 20, 2018, the New York Times published an article about the President’s relationship with and treatment of Cohen. 1024 The President responded with a series of tweets predicting that Cohen would not ” flip” :

The New York Times and a third rate reporter . . . are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will ‘flip. ‘ They use nonexistent ‘sources’ and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected. Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media! 1025

In an email that day to Cohen, Costello wrote that he had spoken with Giuliani. 1026 Costello told Cohen the conversation was “Very Very Positive[.] You are ‘loved’ … they are in our corner … . Sleep well tonight[], you have friends in high places.”1027

But Rudy, acting as part of Joint Defense Agreement in the role of Trump’s personal counsel, did succeed in getting Paul Manafort to lie about what happened on August 2 and efforts to carve up Ukraine in the aftermath.

Immediately following the revocation of Manafort’s bail, the President’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, gave a series of interviews in which he raised the possibility of a pardon for Manafort. Giuliani told the New York Daily News that “[w]hen the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons.” 856 Giuliani also said in an interview that, although the President should not pardon anyone while the Special Counsel’s investigation was ongoing, “when the investigation is concluded, he’s kind of on his own, right?”857 In a CNN interview two days later, Giuliani said, ” I guess I should clarify this once and for all. . . . The president has issued no pardons in this investigation. The president is not going to issue pardons in this investigation …. When it’s over, hey, he’s the president of the United States. He retains his pardon power. Nobody is taking that away from him.”858 Giuliani rejected the suggestion that his and the President’s comments could signal to defendants that they should not cooperate in a criminal prosecution because a pardon might follow, saying the comments were “certainly not intended that way.”859 Giuliani said the comments only acknowledged that an individual involved in the investigation would not be “excluded from [ a pardon], if in fact the president and his advisors .. . come to the conclusion that you have been treated unfairly.”860 Giuliani observed that pardons were not unusual in political investigations but said, “That doesn’t mean they’re going to happen here. Doesn’t mean that anybody should rely on it. … Big signal is, nobody has been pardoned yet.” 561


The President said that flipping was “not fair” and “almost ought to be outlawed.”880 ln response to a question about whether he was considering a pardon for Manafort, the President said, “T have great respect for what he’s done, in terms of what he’s gone through …. He worked for many, many people many, many years, and T would say what he did, some of the charges they threw against him, every consultant, every lobbyist in Washington probably does.”881 Giuliani told journalists that the President “really thinks Manafort has been horribly treated” and that he and the President had discussed the political fallout if the President pardoned Manafort.882 The next day, Giuliani told the Washington Post that the President had asked his lawyers for advice on the possibility of a pardon for Manafort and other aides, and had been counseled against considering a pardon until the investigation concluded.883

On September 14, 2018, Manafort pleaded guilty to charges in the District of Columbia and signed a plea agreement that required him to cooperate with investigators.884 Giuliani was reported to have publicly said that Manafort remained in a joint defense agreement with the President following Manafort’s guilty plea and agreement to cooperate, and that Manafort’s attorneys regularly briefed the President’s lawyers on the topics discussed and the information Manafort had provided in interviews with the Special Counsel’s Office.885 On November 26, 2018, the Special Counsel’s Office disclosed in a public court filing that Manafort had breached his plea agreement by lying about multiple subjects.886 The next day, Giuliani said that the President had been “upset for weeks” about what he considered to be “the un-American, horrible treatment of Manafort.”887

Also, for whatever reason — probably because he had word diarrhea — Rudy provided the best evidence that Trump knowingly lied on his written answers to Mueller when he claimed not to remember the Trump Tower Moscow dangles during the election.

Also in January 2019, Giuliani gave press interviews that appeared to confirm Cohen’s account that the Trump Organization pursued the Trump Tower Moscow project well past January 2016. Giuliani stated that ” it’s our understanding that [discussions about the Trump Moscow project] went on throughout 2016. Weren’t a lot of them, but there were conversations. Can’t be sure of the exact date. But the president can remember having conversations with him about it. The president also remembers-yeah, probably up-could be up to as far as October, November.” 1069

Rudy was treated so persistently as a lawyer in the Mueller Report, but not a participant, that he didn’t even make the Glossary of Referenced Persons.

That’s true even though Rudy did show up in interviews as a topic of interest.

For example, when Mike Flynn was asked on April 25, 2018, just days after Rudy officially became Trump’s defense attorney, who else besides he and Bannon were hunting for Hillary’s missing 33,000 emails, the former Director of Defense Intelligence named Rudy, because he was “a big cyber guy.”

When question[ed] who else might have information about on the email messages, FLYNN mentioned Rudy GIULIANI. GIULIANI was “a big cyber guy” who have a speech on the topic in Tel Aviv. GIULIANI had a ton of contacts and traveled quite a bit with TRUMP (FLYNN surmised approximately half of the time). GIULIANI had a certainty that the emails were out there and available. GIULIANI would have said this directly to TRUMP. The natural response from TRUMP was “why the hell could they not find them?”

After two more questions (about Barbara Ledeen’s efforts), Mueller’s team returned to Rudy. This time, former Director of Defense Intelligence explained that if Rudy said something, you could be sure it was factual.

GIULIANI had contacts at the FBI, though he was pretty “close hold” on who he spoke with there. If GIULIANI said something, you could take it to the bank as factual, FLYNN believed that GIULIANI acted in a manner which indicated had specific knowledge related to the emails. FLYNN reviewed GIULIANI’s speech for Tel Aviv, made some comments, and gave it back to GIULIANI. GIULIANI did not name drop. GIULIANI popped in throughout the campaign to help with certain events. FLYNN did not know if GIULIANI knew Russia hacked the DNC.

Two more questions later, in response to a question about whether Jeff Sessions attempted to find the emails, Flynn brought up Rudy again.

FLYNN was asked whether SESSIONS or CHRISTIE made any efforts to find an answer based on their law enforcement backgrounds. SESSIONS did not make any effort at all. GIULIANI had deeper discussion on the issue with the campaign. CHRISTIE was somewhere between the two in regards to effort. CHRISTIE always seemed to “puff” about what he could do. FLYNN observed that GIULIANI and CHRISTIE had extensive connections and contact in New York. They constantly brought information back to the campaign. They did not do a lot of name dropping but there was a certainty to their information. FLYNN did not remember either of them saying they had contact with WikiLeaks.

Several more questions later, Flynn raised Rudy again in a discussion of whether anyone reached out to other countries for the emails.

Flynn opined that if Russia had them, then China, Iran, and North Korea also had them. Those countries had the cyber capabilities to get them and CLINTON was the Secretary of State. FLYNN also thought hactivist groups operating in the [sic] Ukraine could have them. It was also likely Israel had them. FLYNN did not recall specific discussions on reaching out to these countries to find out what they had. GIULIANI could have reached out to Israel but FLYNN did not know.

In an interview six days later, Mueller’s team asked Flynn more about the role of the guy who had just become Trump’s defense attorney.

FLYNN did not recall Rudy GIULIANI saying specifically what he was doing to learn more about the missing email messages. GIULIANI seemed insightful to FLYNN on knowing when news would break. GIULIANI was working on cyber policy for TRUMP. FLYNN was not sure if GIULIANI got his information from the news or from actual contacts. FLYNN attended a couple of meetings at Trump Tower where GIULIANI was present. GIULIANIs conversations were always that Wikileaks would release the missing email messages, not Russia. FLYNN thought Russia would wait to see who won the election. If CLINTON won, Russia could then use them for leverage over her. Wikileaks claimed to have the desire to put information out in the public to damage CLINTON.

FLYNN did not participate in any conversations with GIULIANI that indicated GIULIANI “cast his net” with his contacts. GIULIANI was one of a number of people around TRUMP’s inner circle. GIULIANI agreed on who was behind the hack but was not really certain. GIULIANI was a close hold guy but might share what he was hearing. FLYNN recently saw a clip that during the campaign, GIULIANI said during an interview that there were more leaks to come. FLYNN recalled that was the kind of thing GIULIANI would say with certainty related to cyber. FLYNN listened to GIULIANI who came across as a judge and made remarks as though they were facts.

I have not done a systematic review of all this (and earlier releases are too redacted to be of much use on such issues). But it’s not just Flynn who had something interesting to say about Rudy. When discussing the Transition (and egregiously downplaying his own role in foreign policy), for example, Steve Bannon described the tension during the Transition because both Jeff Sessions and Rudy wanted to be Secretary of State. “Bannon thought Giuliani would have issues in his confirmation if he was nominated as Secretary of State, however, because of some of his companies and foreign contacts,” Bannon explained, acknowledging even then that Rudy was a foreign influence peddling risk.

Perhaps it’s because, when Rudy became Trump’s defense attorney, it made any inquiry into his role in 2016 awkward. But even though Rudy was a participant in all this, and even though Mike Flynn thought he might be the most likely person to “cast his net” for ways to pursue stolen emails, it’s not clear how aggressively the Mueller team considered what role Rudy had.

20 replies
  1. klynn says:

    Wondering if there is any way Rudy might have found out questions were being asked about him by the Mueller Team?

    Knowing that would be a quick motivator to lobby to be named the President’s defense attorney as protection.

    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t know that they were. It’s honestly possible that Rudy didn’t become a subject of interest until it was too later, after he became defense attorney.

      • klynn says:

        Is Rudy able to use privilege as a protection currently as damning evidence is obtained, especially if his actions and the evidence reveal they were not reflective of defense lawyer work? IANAL.

        • bmaz says:

          I still find it laughable to treat Rudy as an attorney, “personal” or otherwise. What the heck is a personal attorney anyway? It is a disingenuous way the media was groomed to describe and distinguish a craven PR shill who was not in government employ as a lawyer. Groomed, as being led by a bit.

          But, was he really ever serving as an attorney, much less as “defense counsel”? Attorney/client privilege is analogous to a veil that obscures entry into theoretically privileged communications. But that veil has limitations and, more often than you might think, a veil that can be pierced. I maintain that the Trump/Rudy veil could be not simply pierced, but full on burst, quite easily if someone wanted to.

          I am not sure the DOJ will go there, but they should. Sooner or later though, somebody likely will, and that will be interesting. I have been through this before, the protection its not the be all and end all lay people assume. Most all of what Rudy did was NOT a legal purpose, and it all seems to have been done without the formalities that protect privilege. Including the single disastrous court appearance Rudy made and malpracticed on.

          The problem is not so much privilege, but the unwillingness of press and prosecutors to attack it as ludicrous. And it is ludicrous. And, all this is without heading into the crime/fraud exceptions.

          • BobCon says:

            The later piece today about the Giuliani warrants has me wondering how far DOJ has gone in establishing the relationship is not privileged.

            I’m not savvy enough to understand whether there are suggestions that they are breaking down possible walls involving Giuliani and Trump, or if they are limiting themselves to Giuliani actions that are clearly separate.

          • chicago_bunny says:

            I am a lawyer, and I cosign to 100% of what you’re written here. I found it incredibly frustrating to see public reports give any weight to Rudy’s designation as “personal attorney” to Trump. For what matter, and to what end? The general lack of understanding about what lawyers do and how they do it can cause problems in the discourse, as this whole fiasco shows.

            I hope someone does get and take a chance to tear through that veil before all is said and done.

          • P J Evans says:

            I would really like to know what he did for the former guy as his “personal lawyer”, and WTF he was doing in/with Ukraine and Russia, since those wouldn’t have been personal business, but covered by government and so should have been handled by the WH lawyers if not DOJ/State.

          • Eureka says:

            Since EW teed-up the opportunity for a Rudy-as-support animal joke with her title, I’m going with “support counsel” for _his_ title. Given your comments and the parallel utility of taking ducks on airplanes and such.

            “support mayor” has a ring but maybe not the same punch…or fecal distribution raduis

        • Leoghann says:

          Rudy Giuliani is the orange guy’s “personal lawyer,” just as Michael Cohen was, i.e.: his bully, bagman,and fluffer. We know how well claims of attorney-client privilege worked out for Cohen, and I have little expectation they will be any more effective for Rudy. Cohen may have been in thrall to Trump; Giuliani seems to be attracted more with the doors his relationship can open, and the tasks he’s been doing are on a much different level. But soon he’ll be just as far under the bus as Cohen found himself.

  2. Ginevra diBenci says:

    Thank you, Dr. W, for laying this out. Giuliani has exploited a peculiar blind spot for years now. People who consider themselves sophisticated insiders see him as a buffoon, not worth serious attention, while he retains a quasi-mystical hold on the self-styled anti-elite, most notably among NYC law enforcement, especially FBI. I watched this happen in 2016, and under Trump’s aegis little has changed; if anything, Giulianism has dug in. We write him off as a risible fool at our peril.

  3. Eureka says:

    Was recently pondering the over/under on the number of countries whose interests Rudy has represented/been representing. Independent of converging interests (who knows the daylight these days b/w Putin/Orban/Bibi on some issues, for ex.), I’m putting that in Flynn Units and taking the over.

    As to 2016, he was also out there as a tv presence on “rigged election”/”inner cities” and, earlier, “Hillary ill”. You know, just like Trump, Corsi-Stone et al., and the IRA trolls.

    But back to my favorite topic, August 2. I want to know how — with whom (? Manafort/deputies) — Hannity loops in around this time wrt the campaign’s storyline priorities. Aug 1 Trump hammers “rigged election” (that whole thing about some precincts in Philadelphia and Cleveland with no votes for Romney in 2012) and Hannity picks him up for an interview on that also on the 1st.

    Aug 12th, at Trump’s Altoona, PA (looney tunes) rally he goes full Manafortian MO. Meanwhile, Stone is busy in this week + and – with Guccifer 2.0 in the DMs, out on twitter, in articles, etc. [The last time AndTheSlithyToves, harpie, and I were discussing this, I regret not re-mentioning how Stone had G2 retweet his election rigging article, which IMO is an ask/follow-up to the August 2 polling data transfer & discussion. But I persevere –.]

    re Trump/Hannity August 1, 2016:
    Trump’s Faulty ‘Rigged’ Reasoning –
    Posted on August 2, 2016

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Eureka, I’m trying to overlay the Rudy/FBI narrative with this one. Comey announced the “extremely careless” results of the HRC investigation, July 5, 2016; Rudy, IIRC and going by your post, was already serving as peripatetic Fox News mouthpiece, mainly for what seemed then like randomly sourced rumors but now appear linked (at least) to Russian disinformation. During the summer of 2016 I certainly failed to take Rudy seriously as any kind of threat to the future of democracy.

      It wasn’t until the fall that I started hearing about the extreme anti-Clinton views of the FBI’s NYC field office. My friend, who was the director of a local FBI field office, tried to convince me before the election that Clinton was not only corrupt but “a sociopath,” and he claimed his knowledge came from colleagues in the NYC office with whom he often worked closely.

      Comey has said that he made his October 28, 2016 announcement about “new evidence” in the HRC case because otherwise the NYC field office would have released it. Rudy has claimed to have close ties and a working relationship with that office. He can’t be blamed for the lack of professionalism they showed. My point is that anyone investigating him now should assume that he has been representing DJT at this country’s expense for a much longer time than DOJ seems to be doing.

      • Eureka says:

        Yes, we share that POV as to the time depth (which really gets harrowing if one goes back to his NYC campaigns … like how folks look back at DJT’s earlier relationship-based vulnerabilities) and that’s why I raise seemingly mundane stuff like the content of his tv appearances. But of course in 2016, he was seen simply as “America’s mayor” sharing his unbidden perspective. Recall, too, he wasn’t siloed to Fox and Newsmax back then (if always appreciated by those and related outlets); CNN would have him on.

        Since you’re looking to interleave topics I’ll make more explicit that relative timeframe above which is contexted on unrestated facts: the “earlier” “Hillary ill” was in August, following (chronologically, and, in all likelihood, communication chains) Corsi to Stone re ~~”that’s what the hackers are about now.” Rudy’s “support role” “rigged election” appearances were mainly in October (and November, IIRC), focused on (“Democrat-controlled”*) “inner cities”, especially Philadelphia and Chicago (the latter more handy to invoke racist stereotypes than directly electorally).

        Back in July he was spouting about the Comey decision and the Clintons as you indicate, plus vouching for Trump’s pro-police/firefighter good character (then a campaign talking point) at the RNC.

        *The “Black” part being left implicit on the weight of various keywords, affiliates, and LARPy-plans [see Politico Nov. 2016, “White nationalists plot Election Day show of force”, for Stone and pals on “poll watching” (in other words so many 19XX-es and 2020 in 2016)].

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          As ever, Eureka, thank you–this time for sharing your (much sharper than my own) recollections of Rudy’s 2016 campaign appearances. I had stopped watching CNN at all due to how much time they were giving to Trump. MSNBC aired clips of Rudy’s interviews, but I shared the dismissive, jocular attitude of most “liberal elites,” and figured he would just go away when Trump did, that November.

          Comey’s October Surprise did not dent my optimism; everyone I knew was voting for Clinton, right? The few exceptions left me unfazed . . .

          Until Game Seven of the World Series. My sister called me from Chicago just so I could hear the city going nuts. Our parents, both in their 80s, had waited for this their whole lives, but since it was too late at night to call them, we just hung out on the phone together savoring what felt like a dream.

          I had barely said good-by when the euphoria ruptured and began to hemorrhage, flooding away so fast I couldn’t hang onto any of it. I was still standing outside on our apartment’s enclosed porch, completely in the dark except for the TV inside, which was still tuned to ESPN for post-game stuff. I knew right then that Trump could win. Before that night it had not seemed possible, but suddenly I knew it was–that all those negative social trends I had been tracking that seemed to correlate with his ascendance might not get the correctives I had envisioned. That in fact they might get worse.

          And if he *could* win, he would win.

          This was the exact period when Rudy was working the refs at FBI’s NYC field office, boxing Comey into that perceived corner. Someone knew that Trump would need all of these side hustles (data to Kilimnik, online disinfo from Russia, Wikileaks, a truly questionable field office) to get over the line.

          My main reason for believing in the Russia collusion (2016) story is that no one involved in Trump’s campaign at the time seems to have had the brains and leverage to get all this done. Rudy, however, still had lots of leverage. I would be surprised if he knows most or all the answers Mueller tried to get out of Manafort and Stone, and possibly DJT himself.

          • Eureka says:

            I remember, Ginevra, once when we were talking about our sports teams and I’d said that my curse was the knowing, not the jinx.

            My spring/summer/fall 2016 story is a lot simpler than yours in that I didn’t have an involved friend (like yours was) and that I _did_ know that he could/would win; I was the only person in my social networks to believe so and that the promised comeuppances for each successive boundary-norms violation would never arrive. Subsequent “you told me so”s were empty, the spaces filled by their shock and surprise: ~holy shit this is what we have now.

            I saw the election-night returns start their shift and went to bed in the 9 o’clock hour. It had happened.

            One pre-election anecdote, because it’s funny: I countered (with my reasoned warnings) an acupuncturist I know who’d relayed and dismissively waved-off the rah-rahs overheard at a Trumper-filled Pennsylvania diner. Would only had Salena Zito ever tried to find this place.

            Other things that come to mind: HRC’s polling was too labile, vulnerable to fluxing by external events. [More ~lols~]

            Media-wise, there was also TMZ: Harvey Levin featured all of Trump’s associates like they were (thus rendering them unto) celebrities: Michael Cohen and Roger Stone especially, besides already-famous-Rudy and Manafort. The comments section at TMZ was like an IRA playpen, before we knew of the IRA: even lacking that knowledge, it was commonly said that TMZ stirred race-based turmoil with their ceaseless coverage of rappers (or more _how_ they covered them and which ones, I guess). So many years later I forget the exact day — E-day or the day before or so — Levin, speaking on his show, had a sure confidence about him that Trump would win. I remember thinking at the time that maybe he had insight from the analytics on their commenters. [Big fat naive LOL, and besides: that’s what “access” is for.]

            • Ginevra diBenci says:

              Eureka, you were prescient. I was in a kind of weird clear-eyed (about the present danger, not the future potential) denial during that 2016 campaign. Whenever someone capable of imagining Trump’s win made their case (from Michael Moore to Susan Sarandon), I shot the messenger rather than consider the message.

              TMZ was not yet in my sights. Thank you for filling me in on that aperture. I hadn’t decided to focus on commercial media at that time, and for a few years just sank into family issues/staving off despair. I always appreciate you pointing me in a direction I wouldn’t have thought of.

  4. FL Resister says:

    Another stunning blog post by Dr. Wheeler.
    Who needs to travel when you can read one of these?
    The distance and depth, though daunting, is appreciated.

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