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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

The travel-ban case and Giuliani's credibility

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani arrives at

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J. Photo Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster

Rudy Giuliani, whose political career fizzled long ago, receives a new dose of national attention in the latest court controversy surrounding his friend President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, lawyers for Washington State argued before a U.S. Appeals Court panel that the Trump-ordered travel ban on immigrants from seven nations is unconstitutional. They said the measure is biased against a religious group, Muslims.

Giuliani held forth Jan. 28 on Fox News about the history of the travel measure. Giuliani recalled that Trump initially called it a “Muslim ban.”

“He called me up and said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.’ ”

The ban’s opponents cite this televised interview to support their charge of discrimination. During Tuesday’s live-streamed hearing, Justice Department attorney August Flentje, representing Trump, responded:

“It is extraordinary for the court to enjoin the president’s national security determination based on some newspaper articles and that is what happened here. That is a very troubling second-guessing of a national security decision.”

“Stop, stop,” said Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Clifton. “Do you deny that statements attributed to the then-candidate Trump and his presidential advisers, most recently to Mr. Giuliani, do you deny those statements were made?”

“No,” Flentje said.

Perhaps the government lawyer could have helped his cause if he had noted that, like the president, the former mayor does not always recite the facts with bedrock reliability.

For example, Giuliani said in that same interview that Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) helped craft the executive order. But King said that while he indeed supports it, Giuliani was mistaken about his helping create it.

Counterintuitive as it might sound, perhaps the legal team could have scored points by questioning Giuliani’s veracity.

On the campaign trail, Giuliani erroneously said that Hillary Clinton had falsely said she was in New York City during the 9/11 attacks.

It was always known she’d been in Washington, D.C., that day, and Giuliani soon apologized for the error. But that was a minor departure from literal truth compared with what he’d said earlier in the summer as he introduced Trump at a rally in Ohio.

“Under those eight years before [Barack] Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack inside the United States. They all started when Clinton and Obama got into office.”

For those who may be confused, George W. Bush was president when planes hijacked by al-Qaida suicide terrorists hit the World Trade Center, killing nearly 3,000 people.

On balance, though, Giuliani’s record for accuracy may be better than Trump’s.

Remember the president said he saw people jump from the Twin Towers on 9/11 — while he was uptown at Trump Tower. He also said he saw thousands of Muslims cheer that day in New Jersey when he most assuredly did not. He even said without backup that Bush had “advance knowledge” of the attack.

Maybe attorney Flentje could have brought all this up and said, as a matter of strategy, that what either Giuliani or Trump say prove nothing at all — religious bias included.

But he did not.

Granted, calling the chief executive a chronic fabulist might have been a difficult statement for the government to make, at least for political purposes.

Then again, stranger arguments have been made in courtrooms.

Anyway, the three-member Appeals Court panel will look to other factors in deciding this case, sooner rather than later.

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