NEW YORK — Rudy Giuliani glared in a Washington courtroom as a lawyer seeking to be disbarred after the Jan. 6 uprising wondered: How did this man, celebrated as “the mayor of America” after 9/11, did he become the leader of an attempt to overthrow a government? national elections?
“It’s like there are two different people,” Hamilton “Phil” Fox III, the lead prosecutor for the agency that disciplines Washington lawyers, said last December. “I don’t know if something happened to Mr. Giuliani or what.”
Mr Giuliani – feted, knighted and named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for his leadership as mayor of New York after the 2001 terror attack – has had his reputation eviscerated and now his freedom jeopardized for his unwavering defense of former President Donald Trump’s false claims. on the 2020 elections.
His downfall came to an all-time low with his indictment in Georgia on charges he acted as Mr Trump’s main co-conspirator in a plot to overturn President Biden’s victory.
Mr. Giuliani, Trump and 17 others have been charged under Georgia’s version of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The law, known as RICO, was once one of Mr. Giuliani’s favorite tools when cracking down on mobsters and Wall Street titans as Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor in the 1980s. , as he nears 80, this could put him behind bars.
Mr Giuliani called the indictment an “affront to American democracy” and said it “causes permanent and irrevocable harm to our justice system”. On his radio show Wednesday, he described the case as an “atrocity” and a “total attack on the First Amendment.”
How did we get here ? Those who have studied Mr. Giuliani’s rise and fall see his 2008 presidential failure as a turning point.
Mr. Giuliani started out as a frontrunner for the Republican nomination, capitalizing on his popularity after 9/11. But he struggled in the primaries, amid Republican Party concerns over his past support for abortion rights, gay rights and gun control, as well as questions about his personal life and his trade links with the Middle East.
For years after the race, Mr. Giuliani’s political career seemed over. After falling into a deep depression, he and his wife Judith decamped to Florida, where Mr. Trump housed them for a month in a bungalow at his Mar-a-Lago estate, biographer Andrew Kirtzman said.
“Trump really took Giuliani under his wing at a very vulnerable time,” said Mr. Kirtzman, whose second biography of Giuliani, “Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor,” was published last year. “And then in 2016, Trump decided to run for president, and he needed Giuliani and Giuliani needed Trump.”
First-time candidate Mr Trump relied on Mr Giuliani’s political acumen and loyalty and put him to work as a surrogate to lead attacks on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom Mr Giuliani had clashed in a race for the US Senate in 2000.
The 2016 campaign restored Mr. Giuliani to prominence, but he surprised many with the ferocity of his attacks and his frequent claims that Mrs. Clinton had committed crimes. Mr Giuliani was seen as wasting his image as an older statesman on a candidate who, at the time, was seen as having little chance of winning.
Mr. Giuliani was running for a job in Mr. Trump’s cabinet, but did not get it. Instead, he continued to play the role of Mr. Trump’s attack dog, a role that led him to travel to Ukraine in search of damaging information about Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter. .
Mr. Giuliani’s contacts with prominent Ukrainians later played a role in Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial and sparked an FBI investigation. In April 2021, federal agents raided his home and office, seizing computers and cellphones, but the investigation was later dropped without any charges.
Some people who were once close to him say today’s Mr. Giuliani has little in common with the man they once knew.
“The man I knew 20 years ago, the hero of 9/11, is nothing like that man,” said Judith Giuliani, who was by his side in the aftermath of 9/11 and his electoral defeat in 2008. “Actually, I feel sorry for him. It’s sad. He is no longer the person he was for any of us.
When Mr. Trump lost the 2020 election, Mr. Giuliani played a leading role in his efforts to stay in the White House, which prosecutors say included illegal maneuvers to overturn the results in states keys.
He was ridiculed for holding a press conference on the Pennsylvania legal challenges outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia, a secluded spot next to a crematorium and pornography store, not the Four Seasons hotel In the city center.
Weeks later, Mr Giuliani appeared to have hair dye streaked across his face at another press conference, making him the butt of late-night TV jokes and internet memes.
After his efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power in court failed, Mr. Giuliani on January 6, 2021 made inflammatory remarks to Mr. Trump’s supporters who then stormed the US Capitol, suggesting they engage in a “trial by combat”.
The New York State Bar Association said his remarks were meant to encourage Trump supporters “to take matters into their own hands.” A DC Bar Association panel unanimously recommended his disbarment, saying his misconduct “unfortunately transcends all of his past accomplishments.”
Critics of Mr Giuliani say he has always been combative and abrasive, with a disdain for criticism and a willingness to lash out at his rivals.
“The real Rudy Giuliani was hiding in plain sight,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Just because he was the face of a devastated and suffering city after 9/11 doesn’t mean he wasn’t still the authoritarian and undemocratic tyrant” that he was “for 90% of his term of mayor”, who ran from 1994 to 2001.
In the Georgia case, Mr. Giuliani is accused of making false statements, soliciting false testimony and seeking the illegal nomination of pro-Trump voters to the Electoral College. Mr Giuliani has also been described as a co-conspirator but has not been charged in special prosecutor Jack Smith’s election interference case against Trump.
Mr. Giuliani maintains that he had every right to raise questions about what he believed to be electoral fraud.
Today, he remains popular among conservatives in his hometown. He hosts a daily radio show in New York and a nighttime streaming show watched by a few hundred people on social media, which he calls “America’s Mayor Live.”
After 9/11, Mr. Giuliani launched a consulting firm that generated $100 million in revenue in five years. But lately he has shown signs of financial difficulties, exacerbated by a third divorce, court cases and costly investigations.
To generate money, he sold autographed 9/11 shirts for $911 and sandals sold by election denier Mike Lindell. He also joined Cameo, a service where celebrities record short videos for profit. Greetings from Mr. Giuliani cost $325 each.
In July, he listed his Manhattan apartment for $6.5 million.
Last year a judge threatened Mr Giuliani with jail in connection with a dispute over money owed to Judith, his third ex-wife. Mr. Giuliani said he was making progress on paying down the debt, which she said was more than $260,000.
In May, a woman who claimed to work for Mr. Giuliani sued him, alleging he owed her nearly $2 million in unpaid wages and that he had coerced her into having sex. Mr. Giuliani denied the allegations.
“His legacy is in tatters,” said Mr. Kirtzman, who was with Mr. Giuliani on 9/11 as they fled debris from the fall of the World Trade Center. He “spent all his money”, faces prison and “will never change his feeling that he was right and everyone else was wrong”.
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