Accuracy in Media

A story published by Time this week, headlined, “The Secretary of Offense,” with subhead, “Rudy Giuliani was supposed to protect Donald Trump. He might get him impeached,” implies that Giuliani, former two-term mayor of New York City and failed 2008 presidential candidate, was veering off the rails in his effort to protect President Donald Trump.

The notion of the story by Vera Bergengruen and Brian Bennett is that Giuliani was shielding Trump from allegations by Democrats and the media that the president acted improperly in his efforts to get the president of Ukraine to investigate corruption.

After a month in which Giuliani “denied and then, 30 seconds later, admitted to playing a central role” in Trump’s efforts “to get a foreign country to investigate his top 2020 rival, Joe Biden,” went “nuclear” on a radio show then pocket-dialed a reporter who could overhear him talking about a business deal in Turkey and Bahrain,” people are getting “worried.”

According to Time, “Giuliani’s longtime associate Bernard Kerik says he keeps getting asked ‘Is he OK?’” Walter Mack, an attorney who worked with Giuliani in the 1980s, told Time that if he saw Giuliani today, he would “talk to him as a friend and a fellow prosecutor, and just be certain he was getting good advice and that he was not losing sight of his own standards and morals.’”

Giuliani is just more “vocal” now because he’s no longer worried about running for office, according to Kurik.

“It’s a bewildering turn of events for a person who at one point in his career had been among the most admired public figures in the country” for cleaning up Times Square and rallying the city after 9-11.

But his association with Trump – his “latest brush with history,” as Bergengruen and Bennett put it – “is revealing a darker side, something that suggests not just Giuliani unbound, but untethered from the values he once espoused. And as the House impeachment inquiry accelerates, and witness after witness describes Giuliani as the prime enabler behind what Democrats say are impeachable offenses committed by Trump, Giuliani’s behavior may end up having historic consequences.”

That Trump uses outside people, such as Giuliani, rather than the diplomatic corps to carry out these tasks has become a central complaint of the government officials who have testified before Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in its pre-impeachment questioning of officials. The practice is not only legal, it is rather common.

But Bergengruen and Bennett try to convey they are not taking issue with Giuliani’s work in support of the president but rather because “he has violated that unwritten rule of American public life that you can pursue money or political power, but not both at once,” they wrote.

“What’s different now is that Giuliani is doing both at the same time. In the 18 months since Trump hired him as his personal lawyer in April 2018, Giuliani has become a kind of shadow secretary of state even as he has maintained his foreign consulting business. He has often been treated as a de facto envoy of the U.S. government while abroad, at the same time receiving lucrative consulting and speaking fees from foreign officials and businessmen.”

It remains to be seen “how much damage will come from Giuliani’s 18-month romp through the swamps of money and power,” Time wrote. “Current and former senior administration officials worry that he has been putting unsubstantiated Ukrainian conspiracy theories into Trump’s head and that Trump doesn’t know or understand that Giuliani’s business interests may be served by some of the advice he is giving the president.”

At some point, Trump may face an impeachment trial in the Senate, and Rudy will have to accept some responsibility for that, Time wrote.

“Giuliani’s increasingly erratic behavior suggests that his gravy train of easy deals tied to political power may come to an ugly end. The question is what else will come to an end with it.”

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