The January 6 Rudy Giuliani Mystery

We still don’t know what he discussed with Donald Trump during the insurrection.

A video of Rudy Giuliani is displayed on a screen at a hearing of House select committee investigating the January 6 riot.J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Editor’s note: This column by David Corn first appeared in his newsletter, Our Land. But we wanted to make sure as many readers as possible have a chance to see it. Our Land is written by David twice a week and provides behind-the-scenes stories about politics and media; his unvarnished take on the events of the day; film, book, television, podcast, and music recommendations; interactive audience features; and more. Subscribing costs just $5 a month—but you can sign up for a free 30-day trial of Our Land here. Please check it out. And please also check out David’s forthcoming book: American Psychosis: A Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy.

The other day I received an email from Rudy Giuliani. He noted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House “is ruthlessly trying to DESTROY every single one of President Trump’s most loyal confidantes.” He claimed that “the Left had been trying to FRAME innocent people close to President Trump.” For example…Rudy Giuliani! Pointing out that the FBI raided his apartment and seized his electronic devices, Trump’s chief henchman whined, “as the lawyer who defended him from TWO impeachment witch hunts, the Deep State has been calling for my head. You’re my only hope of staying free.” He asked me to contribute to his legal defense fund. At the end of the solicitation was a photograph of a young, vigorous Rudy from his days as a crusading federal prosecutor who went after mobsters and Wall Street crooks.

These days, sandals huckster Giuliani continues to push one of the most dangerous swindles in American history: Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was fraudulent. How about making a deal, Mr. Giuliani? I will contribute to your Rudy Giuliani Freedom Fund, if you answer a key question raised during the last hearing held by the House committee investigating the January 6 riot Trump incited: What did you discuss with Trump while the attack on the Capitol was underway?

The July 21 hearing focused on what Trump did—or rather, did not do—as the armed marauders he directed toward Capitol Hill assaulted law enforcement officers, ransacked the Capitol, and tried to block the certification of the 2020 electoral vote. Testimony from witnesses showed that for about three hours Trump repeatedly rebuffed aides and family members begging him to intervene. He did not even bother to contact law enforcement or military authorities while domestic terrorists attacked the citadel of American democracy. But according to the committee, Trump did speak twice to Giuliani during the melee. What did he say? We don’t know.

We do know that throughout that day Giuliani was phoning Republican senators and representatives and pressing them to stop the certification of the electoral vote, the same demand he made during his speech at the pre-riot rally. On behalf of Trump, he reached out to at least six legislators: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). His calls to the lawmakers came even after Trump’s rioters had rampaged at the Capitol and urged the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence.

It’s a good bet that while the whole world was watching the horrendous violence of Trump’s mob, Trump and Giuliani were discussing how this was affecting their plan to thwart certification—which was essential for Trump’s attempted coup. They even might have been considering how best to exploit this tragic moment: weighing whether it was in Trump’s interest to call for the riot’s halt or to let the insurrectionist assault continue.

Giuliani is an eyewitness and a participant to one of the most critical moments in American history. He might have watched Trump abandon his sworn obligation to defend the United States and the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. The once much-admired former New York City mayor can tell the American public what may have been in Trump’s conniving mind and dark heart, as the then-president sat in his private dining room and gazed at ghastly footage of terrorist violence being broadcast live on Fox News.

Of course, Giuliani won’t. And not merely because of attorney-client privilege. (Just to be clear, attorney-client privilege does not cover communications related to the commission of fraud or a crime.) Giuliani is not just a witness, he’s also a perp, a co-conspirator with Trump in the big con claiming election fraud. As Rusty Bowers, the speaker of the Arizona state House, testified to the January 6 committee, Giuliani told him that he and Trump had theories but no evidence of election fraud. He was flim-flamming throughout the post-election period—which is why he and other Trumpers lost 60 court cases. Giuliani’s silence protects not just Trump but also himself. He was his client’s partner in betraying the United States.

The tale of the two Trump-Giuliani phone calls—which has not received much media attention—should not be forgotten. Giuliani must be pressed to recount these conversations so that the public will be given a fuller picture of what the commander-in-chief was thinking during those three hours of silence that day. Dan Friedman, my colleague at Mother Jones, did reach out to Giuliani’s attorney on this matter, and never heard back from him. I’m hoping the committee can do more on this front. Giuliani deserves a public pummeling for not disclosing what he and Trump chatted about as Trump deliberately did nothing to quash his brownshirts’ raid on the Capitol. Instead of being a stand-up guy and giving Americans the truth, the onetime Mafia-buster is sticking to the omerta of the Trump cult, while trying to claim hero status and squeeze donations from its zombie members.


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