What to make of Rudy Giuliani’s fumbling and bumbling as he contradicted President Donald Trump about payments to porn star Stormy Daniels; his “storm troopers” comment about FBI agents who raided the offices of Trump’s fixer-lawyer Michael Cohen; and his seeming justification of hush-money payments that led the law firm he worked for to drop him as partner?
Watching him as he appeared as Trump’s counsel, one wonders whether his capacity has been — I choose the term carefully — diminished.
A longtime friend and colleague said the former mayor is “in his element, not constricted by the political arena, free to say what he wants and be who he is.”
“To me, he doesn’t seem any different,” the friend said on the condition of anonymity to speak freely. “He can say what he wants. He said what he did on purpose to get out that the payment was not made by the Trump campaign, which would have been a crime.”
Yes, Giuliani is getting up in age — 74 on May 28 — the friend acknowledged. “Mentally, I don’t think he has lost it. He’s a little more flippant.”
Still, Giuliani is not the same man who 25 years ago saved NYC by supercharging the NYPD and reversing the city’s crime wave.
Then came 9/11. Displaying a restraint he had not exhibited as mayor, he guided New York City through the attack’s aftermath. Time magazine made him its 2001 man of the year, calling him “America’s Mayor.”
In perhaps his finest moment, he refused a $10 million check from a Saudi prince for disaster relief after 9/11 because the prince suggested U.S. Mideast policy contributed to the attack. But when Giuliani ran for president in 2008, he abandoned principle for opportunism. He played to his basest instincts, which were homophobic and borderline racist.
Now as Trump’s attorney, Giuliani has become a mirror image of Trump himself. “Like Trump, he has no filter,” says a former top NYPD official. “He’s saying in public what he used to say only in private.”
What will the future hold for him? Perhaps Shakespeare’s passage from Macbeth captures it best:
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no
more . . .
Len Levitt is the author of “NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country’s Greatest Police Force.”