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Fealty turns to pathos for Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani, 77, appears broke and faces a

Rudy Giuliani, 77, appears broke and faces a high-stakes lawsuit. Credit: AFP via Getty Images/Mandel Ngan

Who will help Rudy Giuliani?

Mark this moment in his alliance with his liege Donald Trump: Next week a federal trial is scheduled to begin in the case of former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and a co-defendant, Andrey Kukushkin. They are accused of funneling foreign donations into U.S. elections.

In preparation, trial judge Paul Oetken said prospective jurors will be asked whether they have strong beliefs about the ex-mayor and the ex-president and whether those feelings would hamper their ability to fairly judge the case.

The defense asked for this query. Whatever the trial strategy, we have reached a point where a defendant’s ties to Trump and Giuliani could tilt a juror of his peers against him. Under ordinary circumstances, framed grip-and-grin photos taken with powerful figures not on trial would enhance a small-business man's prestige, or lend him social legitimacy.

Not in this instance.

The situation looks dire on several levels for a former mayor whose state law license is suspended. He once built his fame as U.S. attorney in the same domain where he's now under investigation. As a newsmaker, he no longer makes news on his own terms.

Between him and Trump, the Brooklyn-born Giuliani, raised in Garden City, will always make the more interesting subject of New York biography. He is both self-made and self-unmade.

At 75, Trump still holds inherited wealth, while his political entities keep hitting up the flock for donations. He pretty much does what he's always done.

At 77, Giuliani gives every sign of being genuinely broke while facing a high-stakes lawsuit over his famously preposterous election lies in court. He's had his apartment raided by the FBI, with results still to be revealed by prosecutors. And in public, friends appeal to Trump to pay Giuliani for the failed and ridiculed efforts on his behalf.

What has gone largely unnoted for decades is Giuliani's eager subordination to more powerful men.

In 2008, as his own campaign for president crashed and burned early in the primary process, Giuliani quickly embraced GOP nominee John McCain. Four years earlier, Giuliani practically fell over himself at the Republican convention in New York City, conferring hero status on President George W. Bush.

And yet when Trump demeaned and degraded both the ex-president and the ex-senator of his adopted party, Giuliani could not manage a word to contradict his current idol in defense of his former ones. Instead, Giuliani with gusto propped up falsehoods about Trump’s political enemies, usurped State Department policies in Ukraine, and on Jan. 6, railed at the infamous Capitol rally about "trial by combat."

What's to become of the man? His self-humiliations are growing ever more painful to watch.

Barely a month after 9/11, Queen Elizabeth II named Giuliani Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his "outstanding help and support to the bereaved British families in New York."

Last month, he stood at the podium of an annual 9/11 dinner and did a bizarre impression of the elderly and popular monarch. He gave a twisted account of his long-ago honor by suggesting he didn't even accept it, raising new speculation about the mental causes of his erratic and graceless public conduct.

All this can only hinder his son Andrew in his GOP bid for governor next year. One wonders how hard anyone who cares about the elder Giuliani has tried of late to intervene and end the unraveling.

Even privately, nobody from his old circle offers a hint of who might help.

Columnist Dan Janison's opinions are his own.