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Rudy Giuliani: Trump's Visible And Unscripted New Lawyer

May 11, 2018
Originally published on May 11, 2018 7:39 am
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has resigned from his job at one of the nation's largest law firms. Giuliani cited his role on Trump's legal team as the reason for the split. He's taking a visible, unscripted approach to his new job. As NPR's Scott Detrow reports, That is a tactic that has served Giuliani well throughout his long political career.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: This week, Rudy Giuliani was in a very familiar spot.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Folks have showed up. Longtime Yankee fan Rudy Giuliani is in the house, the former mayor of New York City.

DETROW: At a New York Yankees game, front row, right by home plate, right in the middle of the TV shot on ESPN. Giuliani has been in the media spotlight his entire adult life. It propelled his career. It also earned him a lot of criticism. Former FBI Director James Comey worked for Giuliani as a young prosecutor and wrote in his memoir that many staffers grew bitter about Giuliani's approach.

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JAMES COMEY: They thought he made the office about one person - himself - and used publicity about his cases as a way to foster his political ambitions, rather than doing justice.

DETROW: But that media savvy led to Giuliani's proudest moment. On September 11, 2001, President Bush spent much of the day out of sight. But there was the New York mayor, calm and seemingly in control.

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RUDY GIULIANI: The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear, ultimately.

MICHAEL MUKASEY: He is an enormously focused person. He has a mind that focuses on what is essential about any given situation.

DETROW: That's former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who worked alongside Giuliani as a young prosecutor and again in recent years in private practice. But focused isn't quite what comes to mind when it comes to Giuliani's recent media blitz defending Trump.

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GIULIANI: Ivanka Trump, I would - I think I would get on my charger and go right into their offices with a lance if they go after Ivanka.

STEPHEN SALTZBURG: That was bizarre. And I think people wondered, what was the signal that's being sent there?

DETROW: Stephen Saltzburg is a law professor at George Washington University. Saltzburg says the far more troubling legal move was Giuliani's unprompted admission to Sean Hannity that President Trump repaid Michael Cohen for that $130,000 agreement with Stormy Daniels.

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GIULIANI: Funneled through a law firm, and the president repaid it.

SEAN HANNITY: Oh, I didn't know that. He did?

GIULIANI: Yeah.

DETROW: Saltzburg and others say Giuliani raised a whole lot of questions about why Trump and the White House have changed their stories about the payments. Mukasey disagrees.

SALTZBURG: I don't know that he's given away anything that wasn't there to be found anyway. It's called giving away ice in the wintertime.

BERNARD KERIK: Listen. He wanted to make a point. The point was that Michael Cohen did not violate campaign finance law.

DETROW: That's another longtime Giuliani ally, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.

KERIK: Maybe if he said it in any other way, nobody would have paid attention.

DETROW: And when you're working for Trump, that matters. Trump has repeatedly shown he values media attention whether or not the press is positive. In Giuliani, Mukasey says Trump has a loyal ally on TV.

MUKASEY: He doesn't lack for courage, with a little bit of nerve.

DETROW: Still, there's a question of whether Giuliani's media savvy has lost a step. Saltzburg wonders if, like many accomplished late-career lawyers or public figures, Giuliani is just overconfident.

SALTZBURG: You are much more willing to go out and wing things without being fully prepared, something that you wouldn't do when you were a young prosecutor for fear that you might get caught on it.

DETROW: Even the president last week acknowledged that Giuliani had a rocky start...

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He'll get his facts straight.

DETROW: ...Especially now that other legal work is off his plate. Scott Detrow, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.