Rudy Giuliani spent last week galivanting across eastern Europe, meeting with nefarious characters, stepping on his party's talking points, and looking for clues that might help Donald Trump, hurt Joe Biden, and exonerate Russia from its attack on U.S. elections in 2016. Over the weekend, his Oval Office client gave reporters an update on the former mayor's efforts.
Asked whether he knew and approved of Giuliani's misguided European mission, Trump replied:
"Well, I just know he came back from someplace, and he's going to make a report, I think to the attorney general and to Congress. He says he has a lot of good information. I have not spoken to him about that information."But Rudy, as you know, has been one of the great crime fighters of the last 50 years. And he did get back from Europe just recently, and I know -- he has not told me what he found, but I think he wants to go before Congress and say -- and also to the attorney general and the Department of Justice. I hear he's found plenty."
Right off the bat, let's note the president's cringe-worthy track record, which makes his latest rhetoric so difficult to believe. In 2011, for example, Trump appeared on NBC and claimed that he'd personally dispatched a team of investigators to Hawaii to explore his racist "birther" conspiracy theory. "I have people that have been studying [Barack Obama's origins] and they cannot believe what they're finding," he said at the time.
We later learned that Trump made all of this up: there were no investigators; there was no investigation; and he'd lied to everyone, including his allies and supporters, about the entire endeavor.
More recently, Giuliani, in his capacity as Trump's lawyer, spent a chunk of 2018 claiming he was nearly done with a lengthy "counter-report" to then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller's findings in the Russia scandal. That document was never released, and given the widespread contradictions of Giuliani's rhetoric on the subject, it's likely that the document never existed.
With this in mind, when Trump claims Giuliani is working on a report that will feature "plenty" of provocative information, it's probably wise to take this with several grains of salt.
But stepping back, there's a larger context to this that's even more damaging.
Giuliani is, after all, reportedly facing an intensifying federal investigation. He's also a private citizen with no formal role in the United States government at any level; he has no official authority to investigate alleged foreign wrongdoing; and he's been spending an awful lot of time lately with "sources" of dubious credibility.
Trump made it sound as if a presidential emissary, back from an important overseas mission, would soon provide key findings to lawmakers and the Justice Department. But that's inherently ridiculous: we're talking about a suspected criminal chasing conspiracy theories with fringe foreign figures.
Giuliani's report, if it ever materializes, won't be worth the paper it's printed on. The fact that the president is promoting it publicly is embarrassing for all involved.