Despite Reported Warnings That He’s a Russian Pawn, Trump Can’t Quit Giuliani
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The president has reportedly been advised to cut ties with the chaotic former New York City mayor on multiple occasions, but the two remain thick as thieves.

We all have that friend. The one your other friends warn you about. The one who always seems to be getting you in trouble. For Donald Trump, basically all his friends seem to be that one friend. But if there’s one person who fits the bill more than anyone else in the president’s life, it is perhaps Rudy Giuliani—his incorrigible personal lawyer. Ever since he put the former New York City mayor on his payroll in the spring of 2018, he’s caused one headache after another for Trump and the White House: talking his boss into all kinds of trouble on television, and starting a chain of events with his quixotic crusade for Joe Biden dirt that would eventually lead to his boss’s impeachment. Others in Trump’s circle have urged him to cut his old buddy loose: “I think he’s massively hurting,” one Trump ally told Politico last year. But the president has kept him around—comrades in clownery, still in pursuit of the October surprise that will end Biden’s chances.

They hoped they’d finally found it when the New York Post published a report, along with purported copies of emails, suggesting Hunter Biden had arranged a meeting between his father and a top Burisma official—a “smoking gun,” the Post implied, backing up Trump’s claims that the former vice president had improperly leveraged his government position to benefit his son’s business interests. But outside the MAGA bubble, the bombshell turned out to be more of a dud. Rather than bringing Biden down in the final weeks of the presidential race, it served more to raise questions about Trumpworld’s involvement in Russian interference efforts and Giuliani’s shady work on his boss’s behalf in Ukraine.

United States intelligence officials cautioned Trump last year that Giuliani had become the subject of a Kremlin influence operation meant to put Russian disinformation in the president’s ear, the Washington Post reported Thursday. “Your friend Rudy has been worked by Russian assets in Ukraine,” an official recalled national security adviser Robert O’Brien and others telling Trump, as part of an effort to “protect the president from coming out and saying something stupid.” But the effort—both to get him to cut ties with Giuliani and to not say things that are stupid—was in vain. Trump shrugged off the warnings, according to the Post, and continued to support his extracurriculars in Ukraine. 

“That’s Rudy,” he said, dismissing officials’s concerns about the lawyer.

Much remains murky about both Giuliani and the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story but federal investigators are now examining whether the materials he provided to the tabloid are part of a foreign intelligence campaign, NBC News reported Thursday night. The story has been heavily scrutinized since its publication Wednesday: Everything from the authenticity of the so-called “smoking gun” email to its provenance seem fishy, and Giuliani, characteristically, has been unable to keep his story straight with the Delaware computer repair shop owner who claims to have pulled the documents from Hunter Biden’s hard drive. Guiliani and Trump, who reportedly knew of the material and pushed for its release, likely hoped the Post piece would damage Biden like the FBI’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails hurt her in 2016. Instead, it’s refocused attention on Giuliani’s relationship with Andriy Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker Trump’s own administration has identified as a Russian agent, and a Russian hack of Burisma earlier this year that intelligence officials worried would be used in an anti-Biden disinformation campaign.

Presumably, this is the kind of scenario officials feared when they held their interventions with Trump to stop listening to Giuliani. “He was being used as a conduit for misinformation,” a former official told the Washington Post, but Trump brushed aside those warnings. In recent months, the Post reported, Giuliani has come to lean even more on his old pal, advising the president on everything from his campaign to his coronavirus response. That’s bad for the country, which needs and deserves better leadership than these scheming dolts can provide. What Trump can’t seem to grasp, though, is that it is also bad for him politically. But regardless of the risk, there’s no plot he won’t endorse, no stooge too shady for him, if they might lend legitimacy to his conspiracies, delusions, and paranoias. That’s Trump.

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From: VANITYFAIR