Trump May Be At His Wit’s End With Rudy

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Gabriel Sherman in Vanity Fair:

Every time Rudy Giuliani opens his mouth in front of a reporter, something bad seems to happen. Donald Trump’s beleaguered lawyer has, over the past few weeks, given one  disastrous interview after another. The latest fiasco came Monday, when Giuliani participated in a rambling Q&A with The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner. After telling Chotiner he only had a moment before he took a shower, Giuliani unspooled a series of bizarre responses, at one point in the conversation even admitting he worried that his legacy would be that “he lied for Trump.”

Trump is “furious” with Giuliani’s recent botched press appearances, two Republicans briefed on the president’s thinking told me. What makes the most recent interviews so frustrating to Trumpworld is that, on Friday, the president secured his biggest victory yet when Robert Mueller’s spokesman issued a rare public denial of BuzzFeed’s explosive report alleging Trump had directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about Trump Tower Moscow. “Before Rudy stepped in it, Mueller had basically called BuzzFeed ‘fake news,’” a Republican close to the White House said.

According to sources, a debate is playing out inside the West Wing over Giuliani’s future. Trump is being encouraged by several people, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, to dump Giuliani before it’s too late, while outside advisers Corey Lewandowski and Dave Bossie are lobbying Trump to keep Giuliani. “Trump is screaming. He’s so mad at Rudy,” one of the sources said. (“No, he’s not pissed. He just wants it clarified,” Giuliani told CNN’s Dana Bash on Tuesday, when asked about the president’s response to the interviews.) The White House had not responded to a request for comment by press time.

As Giuliani’s unforced errors pile up, former West Wing officials and 2016 campaign veterans are privately debating what’s gone wrong with Rudy. Why, they ask, is he making statements that so obviously damage his client? A former White House official speculated that maybe Giuliani “has lost his mind.” But there are other, more charitable ways of interpreting Giuliani’s interviews. As I’ve previously reported, the Trump-Giuliani relationship hasn’t been good for weeks. Giuliani has said privately that he “hates the job” and that Mueller’s final report will be “horrific” for Trump. Facing these challenges and pressures, it’s understandable he would make mistakes, the thinking goes. “Everyone who works for Trump screws up because there’s no way to please the guy,” an outside Trump adviser said.

But, frustrating as the job may be, Giuliani also may be addicted to it. Friends said the former New York mayor was embittered after being out of the limelight for years following his failed 2008 presidential campaign. He’s been exhilarated by the press attention that comes with being Trump’s lawyer. Sources said Giuliani often books his own interviews and frequently texts with television news anchors.

None of this is surprising. Rudy has always been a big media whore, even before his involvement with Trump.

And I’m amazed this “pro-bono” arrangement has gone on as long as it has. But really, what other choice does Trump have? Who else on his team is willing to talk to the press about Trump-Russia? Nobody.