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What do Trump's 'Muslim ban,' Ukraine, and Biden smear campaigns have in common? Giuliani.

Giuliani encourages Trump's self-destructive habits, buys into conspiracies, and can't keep a secret. What a gift.
Image: Image: Cut out of Rudi Giuliani speaking over a podium with a Trump sign, left hand pointing at the audience with red, yellow and pink colored shadows.
We could ask for no better lawyer to represent Trump than Giuliani.Anjali Nair / MSNBC; AP; Getty

I believe this country owes a deep debt of gratitude to the former mayor of New York City, Rudolph W. Giuliani. This feels counterintuitive even as I write it, but I think that we should all take a moment in this turbulent time to be thankful for the man who has given us so much — admittedly, often without realizing it.

Can you imagine if Trump actually had skilled lawyers trying to work this case?

Because, for all his misguided blunders and transparent ill intentions, Giuliani has consistently encouraged some of President Donald Trump's most self-destructive habits. He has been the media's best source for Trump's worst behavior. He is Trump's worst enemy in the form of a close friend and legal counsel.

I truly believe that the outgoing administration, with all of its outrages and crises, would have been even more of a nightmare, and would have wrought even more destruction, without Giuliani's helping hand guiding Trump through it all. Giuliani has encouraged and inflamed some of Trump's most self-defeating instincts and failures. And like an archetypal Bond villain who's been pumped full of truth serum, he's appeared completely unable to stop himself from revealing the grand strategy at work to anyone who asks.

Giuliani has been described as a proto-Trump in a lot of ways, from his love of attention and cameras to his willingness to make money no matter how shady the income stream. After he endorsed Trump in 2016, he was gunning to become secretary of state when those shady income streams kneecapped him, forcing him to withdraw his bid. Instead, he got a sinecure position as cybersecurity adviser at the White House that we have never spoken of again, except for when it was very funny.

Giuliani's real skill came into focus less than 10 days into the Trump administration, when he went on Fox News to speak with host Jeanine Pirro about the "Muslim ban" that Trump had signed. He seemed very happy to tell Pirro the whole backstory and why the executive order wasn't really a racist attack on Muslims.

He's the one who fed Trump conspiracies about the mythical CrowdStrike server that was allegedly hidden in Ukraine.

"I'll tell you the whole history of it," Giuliani said. "So when he first announced it, he said, 'Muslim ban.' He called me up. He said: 'Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.'

"And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger — the areas of the world that create danger for us," Rudy continued, seemingly unaware how flimsy and blatantly discriminatory his argument was. The administration wound up having to scrap Rudy's standards twice over before the Supreme Court finally gave the thumbs-up to Trump's immigration restrictions.

Giuliani withdrew for a while after that, looking for new clients to raise cash from, only to emerge again during the Mueller investigation. This was Giuliani at his peak, in that he didn't actually do much legal work, it seems. Instead, he went on television and said what felt like whatever popped into his brain at any given moment, much like his client. He reportedly did the same off camera — discretion has never been part of the Giuliani Guarantee, trademark pending. Behind the scenes, he and Trump were looking for ways to discredit Robert Mueller, which led them to Ukraine.

If it weren't for Giuliani, I don't see how this whole thing could have happened. He's the one who fed Trump conspiracies about the mythical CrowdStrike server that was allegedly hidden in Ukraine. He's the one who set up the pressure campaign on the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovich, and got her fired. He's the one who got Ukraine's prosecutor-general to smear the Bidens, buying their self-serving lies hook, line and sinker.

In true Giuliani fashion, he's also the one who gave away the game when it was still in progress.

In true Giuliani fashion, he's also the one who gave away the game when it was still in progress, talking to The New York Times in March 2019 about his travels:

"'We're not meddling in an election, we're meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,' Mr. Giuliani said in an interview on Thursday when asked about the parallel to the special counsel's inquiry.

"'There's nothing illegal about it,' he said. 'Somebody could say it's improper. And this isn't foreign policy — I'm asking them to do an investigation that they're doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I'm going to give them reasons why they shouldn't stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.'"

In September 2019, he confirmed live on CNN that he was trying to pressure Ukraine's government to open a scurrilous investigation into Joe Biden. The pressure campaign's inner workings would become public over the next few months as the House impeachment inquiry combed through Giuliani's texts with his lackeys and heard testimony about Trump's demands that government officials assist Giuliani's schemes.

It's honestly a shame that Rudy wasn't allowed to serve on the president's defense during his Senate trial like he reportedly wanted. Instead, the team that did defend Trump all but disavowed Giuliani, calling him "a minor player" who was being trotted out to distract the American public.

Throughout the proceedings, Giuliani continued to talk to and text with basically any person who got hold of his phone number.

Getting your client impeached should be a pretty big blow to credibility for any lawyer, and it's likely to sour the lawyer-client relationship. But Trump has stuck by Giuliani loyally. And for this, we should all be glad.

In the post-election miasma, Trump has turned to Giuliani to disastrous effect. Giuliani insisted that Trump could still win when others told him his loss to Biden was a done deal. He parachuted into the campaign's legal efforts with Jenna Ellis at his side, telling everyone they now report to him. He then proceeded to completely botch his first time in court to the point that he's become not one but several memes.

Giuliani, undeterred, and to the chagrin of many, once again said the quiet part out loud, reportedly telling associates that his strategy was to get state legislatures to reverse the outcome of the election in their states, throwing electoral votes to Trump.

Can you imagine if Trump actually had skilled lawyers trying to work this case? It would still have been impossible for him to prevail, but salient points might at least have been made. We could have been more deeply mired in a lengthy standoff if Trump had someone competent helping him execute his schemes. Even Michael Cohen did a better job as consigliere over the years — and he's under house arrest for helping Trump cover up an alleged affair during the 2016 campaign.

In sum, Rudy is the right man for the right time, a perfect foil for this moment, an addled former titan whose gullibility, need to brag about his exploits and zeal for conspiracy have saved countless lives by making him the absolute worst person to help shepherd multiple criminal enterprises through the federal government. So let's all take a moment this week to be thankful that Rudy Giuliani is exactly who he is.