Like a bloated, portly fake billionaire rolling off a hooker after a hot 45 seconds of passionate sex, Donald Trump’s ardor for Rudy Giuliani seems to have cooled.
If the White House leaks are any barometer, it sounds more and more as if Donald wants Rudy to get his money off the nightstand and the hell out of his room at the No-Tell-Motel. This is what happens when you work for Trump, and Rudy is old enough, crafty enough, and knows Trump well enough to have known better.
Trump’s hiring of my old boss is a triumph of today’s Trump-right media bubble, where nothing matters but the coverage on Fox & Friends, Hannity, Sinclair stations’ nightly Two Minutes of Hate, and on the nut-site constellation that comprises conservative “news” sites. Trump didn’t hire Rudy for his skills as a litigator, or as a warrior in the high-speed low-drag social-media world of today. He was hired to break shit and make loud noises, and he’s damn good at it. Unfortunately for Rudy, that probably won’t be enough to save him from the Trump curse.
Trump has been mostly unable to hire and retain top-flight litigators because he destroys everyone around him. His record of stacking former staffers like cordwood as they are either fired, humiliated, shamed, permanently scarred, forced to cut off a finger by the Yakuza, morally compromised, or moved into the Witness Protection Program will go down in presidential history. It’s no secret that he’s a spectacular liar at all times and on all subjects, leaving his legal team constantly wary they have a client who combines a stubborn streak and a self-destructive nature with an endless capacity to lie to them about his marital, financial, and political lies.
However, like so many others who should know better, Rudy staked his legacy on one last waltz with Trump, and may soon learn why no one else wanted the job.
Trump follows a clear pattern with his employees, hangers-on, camp followers, and six-degrees-of-separation edge cases who trail him like chunks of matter kicked off some fecal comet hurling across the political firmament. The pattern is abundantly evident at this point, and it’s one Rudy should realize applies to everyone in Trump’s sphere of crapulous influence.
Here’s a preview, mayor, of how this is going to go in the coming weeks:
You’re already out of the honeymoon phase, but I’m sure it was nice while it lasted. It always happens with Trump appointees: He praises you in his intense, hyperbolic way. Even if you’re a wily, hardened person, those blandishments tend to make his appointees drop their panties faster than a high-school cheerleader in the back of the quarterback’s van for a simple reason: The praise isn’t just from the president.
Sure, it’s nice when the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. sings your virtues, but the amplification mechanism of Fox News, Infowars, Breitbart, and others are so passionate and so fulsome that you really want to hoover up another rail of that ego powder. Then come the Trumpsplaining pieces in the gentry conservative outlets praising you as the One Who Got Trump Right and Is Turning Everything Around.
Then come the leaks. This White House has a singular leaker at the very top, and by now you should know that 70 percent of the time when “sources close to the president” bitchslap you to the press, you can just strike the words “sources close to” from the sentence. Trump is like some veldt animal at the edge of a muddy river, continually sniffing the wind for a scent; all he cares about is how the coverage reflects on him, so if he perceives an even slightly negative tone, the people sacrificing their reputations for him go under the bus.
Add to that the crew of Jared and Ivanka, hard at work with their Lil Machiavels playset. They hate you because haters hate. Duh. Throw in Hapless Leaker, and dead-man-walking John Kelly, Kellyanne von Munchausen, and the shitbird chorus on the outside of Trump’s political family and no one gets out of here alive.
To save yourself, you’ll make the mistake of trying to give him advice. Sensible, correct, legitimate advice. That’s the worst thing you can do because Trump parses counsel as critique and guidance as discipline. At that point, you’re dead, even if you’re too stubborn to lay down and start stinking up the place.
You’ll keep swinging, struggling, trying to gain purchase in a wilderness of tweets and confusing signals, but once Trump is bored and restless enough, the “we’re about to fire him” rumor machine gets spun up. At that point, it’s only a matter of time before Donald’s itchy Twitter finger gets the best of him and he fires you.
I went to work for Rudy in 1997 during his re-election campaign for mayor, along with my business partner at the time, Adam Goodman. We were the upstart Florida guys who somehow scored the work of the mayor who was then becoming known as the man who turned New York around. I formed some of the closest and most enduring friendships of my life on that campaign. All legacies are complex, and Rudy’s is certainly not without its faults, mistakes, rough edges, and excesses. In the 20 years that have passed since, I’ve often pondered the inflection points of Rudy’s career.
The first was his tenure as mayor. Tireless, restless, aggressive, imperfect, hands-on all the time. Good Rudy loved that job more than life itself. He was built for it, racing to fires, building collapses, jumping out of the Suburban and into every crisis. He was Batman; nocturnal, judgmental, sometimes questionable in his methods, but pursuing an order too lacking in a city that had drifted for too long. When he was Bad Rudy, it was often to fix a worse problem.
The second inflection point was 9/11. The 9/11 attacks tested Rudy, broke him, rebuilt him, and changed something deep in his soul. His finest moments came in those dusty, terrifying streets where the death toll was still unknown and unknowable, where fires marked the eternal gap in the city’s skyline and Lower Manhattan was a landscape of ash. He took on the mantle of leadership at a moment of horror, and it is the knowledge of what he did that day that sharpens the painful contrast to the man he now serves.
The third point came when he took this job. Trump is a man who offers his employees and supporters little in return for their sacrifice. He will, as he always does, sacrifice even a personality and a legacy as bold as Rudy’s. The doom is already in the air, and the president’s unrivaled appetite for the destruction of all who serve him is growing.
As mayor of New York City, Rudy never ducked a fight. As Trump’s attorney, he’s in a fight he can’t win, because his opponent isn’t Robert Mueller, or Michael Avenatti, or Stormy Daniels. His opponent, and the man willing to burn him and his legacy to the ground, is his client, Donald J. Trump.