‘It’s extremely insulting’: Giuliani fires back at allegations of erratic behavior
As President Donald Trump and White House aides expressed their discomfort over Rudy Giuliani’s free-wheeling interviews, those who know the former mayor from his native New York City and who’ve seen him at recent events suggest it’s just Rudy being Rudy.
They described a man whose once-powerful legal career long ago morphed into a role of attracting clients for law firms and using his contacts to help emerging businesses. Much of that work was conducted in loose social settings, with Giuliani drawing attention for his outrageous statements — frequently directed at his favorite target, Hillary Clinton — while delighting some listeners and offending others.
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On Tuesday, however, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough went so far as to state on live television that Trump didn’t initially hire Giuliani for a Cabinet post because he was “losing it,” “falling asleep five minutes into meetings” and “drinking too much” — charges that Giuliani himself rejected in his own combative style in an interview with POLITICO.
“None of that is true,” Giuliani said of Scarborough’s remarks in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “I’m not sleeping now. I’m in Dallas. I’m wide awake. I’ve handled numerous cases including some sensitive cyber matters. I’m a lot more aware and intelligent than Joe has ever been and a lot more accomplished. Joe hasn’t been knighted by the Queen of England. He hasn’t run a U.S. attorney’s office, much less a city that he turned around or went through 9/11.”
As for the allegations about his drinking, Giuliani acknowledged being a social drinker but said he doesn’t have alcohol early in the day.
“I’m not drinking for lunch,” he said. “I may have a drink for dinner. I like to drink with cigars.”
Giuliani’s conduct since joining the Trump legal team has been the subject of several private conversations in recent weeks among current and former Trump advisers and attorneys involved in the Russia investigation who have been asking one another about the lawyer’s drinking and other erratic behavior. The concern: whether it’s causing more problems for a president who already had a pile of legal and political problems. Many say they’ve been reassured there’s nothing to be worried about.
“Rudy does have pretty good political instincts, but no one hits a home run every time they’re at the plate,” said Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign aide. “I don’t think drinking is an issue.”
Several Giuliani friends noted that much of his business is conducted in settings in which drinks are served, and that Giuliani’s flamboyant personality only gets more colorful when he imbibes.
In New York, a favorite hangout is the Grand Havana Room at 666 Fifth Ave., where he is frequently seen in the evening puffing cigars with friends like defense attorney and law-firm partner Marc Mukasey. Two New York political insiders familiar with Giuliani’s activities said he was at the Grand Havana before his now-infamous Fox News interview with Sean Hannity, in which he shocked much of Washington by blurting out that Trump had known after all about Michael Cohen’s payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels — something the president had denied.
Giuliani said he thinks he was at the Grand Havana after his Hannity interview but couldn’t remember the specifics. “I sometimes go before,” he said. “I sometimes go after.”
A person familiar with the interview said Hannity didn’t smell alcohol on Giuliani’s breath or otherwise notice that the Trump lawyer had been drinking. Giuliani also dismissed the question of whether he’d had any alcohol before going on Hannity’s program. “I’m insulted,” he said. “It’s extremely insulting. There’s no proof of any kind that I take too much alcohol. That’s ridiculous.”
In Washington, Giuliani also has some favorite hangouts. He’s been spotted at Shelly’s Back Room cigar bar on F Street, a plush setting two blocks from the White House with wood paneling and leather armchairs.
From his favorite bars he sometimes moves on to social events, as his workday morphs into his evening. There, the colorful former mayor often entertains listeners with his tart observations on the political scene.
In March, Giuliani reportedly raised eyebrows at Mar-a-Lago when, in a room full of wealthy Republicans including the president, he joked about having seen Hillary Clinton at Trump’s wedding and “she actually fit through the door.” According to Axios, which reported the event, the fat joke drew a foul look from his wife, Judith — who last month filed for a contested divorce — while Trump later quipped to the crowd that he was glad he didn’t say it.
Jon Sale, a former federal prosecutor and law school classmate of Giuliani’s, said his friend knew how to maintain control of a situation. “I’ve never seen him impaired. Anybody who says he has a drinking problem doesn’t know him or has an agenda,” Sale said.
For his part, Giuliani insisted it’d be big news in his hometown if drinking were an issue. “You’d have 50 gossip columns on Page Six with the scrutiny I get in New York,” he said.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about Giuliani’s behavior — which also drew notice on MSNBC last Friday when host Chris Matthews suggested that the Trump lawyer’s interview with Hannity was a misstep.