The Indispensable Man: How Giuliani Led Trump to the Brink of Impeachment


One of those clients had cost him big dollars.

When he announced that he would be representing Mr. Trump, he said he would be taking a leave of absence from Greenberg Traurig. But his partners, and some of their clients, had had their fill of being associated with Mr. Trump. The firm said Mr. Giuliani was resigning. He said it was a mutual decision.

The loss of the $6 million income came with one consolation. No longer would Mr. Giuliani be subject to a moratorium on his TV appearances, imposed by the firm’s buttoned-down reticence. “The last year and a half, I haven’t been on television,” Mr. Giuliani said in May 2018. “Frankly, I’ve missed it.”

He returned to the airwaves with mesmerizing announcements and claims. Contradicting Mr. Trump, he said the president had indeed reimbursed one of his former lawyers, Michael Cohen, for the hush money paid to a pornographic film actress who said she had had a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. A typical errand for a lawyer, he averred, though many begged to differ.

Mr. Giuliani denounced F.B.I. agents and federal prosecutors investigating the president and Mr. Cohen as thugs, storm troopers, bumbling. (Mr. Cohen, now in prison for his role in the hush-money scheme, said the investigators who raided his office had been polite; when he turned against Mr. Trump, he was declared a “scumbag” by Mr. Giuliani.)

Other lawyers on the Trump team were dismayed by his rhetoric, but Mr. Giuliani said it was tactical, regardless of how unhinged it seemed. Once he learned that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, had decided that Justice Department policy forbade the criminal indictment of a sitting president, he said, he viewed impeachment as Mr. Trump’s only risk. That would be a public relations war, not a legal one, he explained, with the battles fought on television — an arena that Mr. Mueller did not contest. During his barrage, public opinion shifted slightly against an impeachment based on the Mueller findings, and Congress showed little appetite for pursuing it. Mr. Giuliani took victory laps.

With scant attention at first, he shifted the theater of combat away from television screens, and into murky Ukraine politics.



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