In a distant time when he insisted truth was truth, Rudolph Giuliani called for a mandatory sentence of up to two years for perjury and for obstruction of justice.
“Crimes against the system,” Giuliani termed the two offenses back in 1987, when he was the Manhattan U.S Attorney and said we needed the increased penalties.
Now, of course, those are the two crimes most often mentioned in connection with his present client, President Donald Trump, on whose behalf Giuliani insisted that “truth isn’t truth” in a TV appearance on Sunday.
As the self-proclaimed Prosecutor Who Cleaned Up Wall Street, Giuliani had repeatedly added on these two charges to insider trading cases in which the suspects had the temerity to lie about their misdeeds and sought to avoid punishment. He contended that prison time was the necessary remedy for those who acted as if truth were not truth.
“Many of these people believe there’s no additional penalty if they lie under oath while being questioned,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani’s erstwhile zealotry concerning the truth being the truth was all the more remarkable when you consider that his very existence as well as one of his biggest cases as a prosecutor both may have hinged on questionable official statements.
What might be called the tale of two Harolds began on April 2, 1934, when 26-year-old Harold Giuliani was arrested for the armed robbery of a milkman named Harold Hall in the stairwell of an upper Manhattan apartment building.
As recounted first by the late, great Wayne Barrett in his book Rudy! An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani, Hall initially told the police that the man later identified as Harold Giuliani had pressed a gun into his abdomen and said, “You know what this is.” Hall further reported that Harold Giuliani and a second robber had relieved him of $128.12 and pulled down his pants. Hall said that Harold Giuliani had been in the midst of tying him up when a police officer arrived on the scene.
The other man got away, but Harold Giuliani was arrested. He was initially charged with four felonies after Hall fingered him as the one with the gun.
But the truth began to take a turn after two men in pinstripe suits paid a pre-dawn visit to the milkman at his Bronx apartment. Hall would later describe his visitors with a word.
“Mafia,” he would say.
When he was next interviewed by the authorities, Hall said that the robber was still at large, and Harold Giuliani had not been the one with the gun.
“The milkman tried to change his statement after he was visited at about four o’clock in the morning by several people who threatened him,” prosecutor Louis Capozzoli reportedly announced during a court hearing. “Then he said this fellow (Harold Giuliani) ought to get a break.”
A big break came as Harold Giuliani was allowed to plead to a single felony rather than the initial four. He was sentenced to a term of two-to-five years. He could have received as much as 15 years.
Instead, he was paroled after only 18 months, years before he likely would have even been considered for release had he been convicted of the original four felonies.
If not for that break Harold Giuliani might have still been incarcerated in the fall of 1944, when his son was conceived.
Rudolph Giuliani was born the following May, and as mayor a half century later would often rail against plea bargains and parole.
His path to city hall began when Giuliani was an assistant U.S. Attorney, with his first really big case coming in 1971, when he got a crooked cop named Robert Leuci to confess to repeatedly committing perjury.
“I knew that Bob Leuci had lied to us when he said he had done only three or four things wrong,” Giuliani would later say. “These guys were taking everything that moved.”
Giuliani would describe the ensuing two-month effort to extract the full truth as “the most painful acts of my professional life.”
“We had to get Bob to admit he had perjured himself in earlier court testimony and we had to get him to tell us all he knew about crooked cops,” Giuliani would recall.
Leuci agreed to wear a wire and 50 detectives were indicted, as described the book and then movie Prince of the City. A number of prosecutors felt Leuci should be indicted for his multiple past perjuries. Giuliani cited the many cases the once lying cop helped make and became Leuici’s biggest defender. Those who disagreed grumbled that Giuliani had become head of the “I Love Leuci” fan club.
“I had a great deal of empathy for what he had gone through,” Giuliani would later say.
Giuliani demonstrated no empathy for Wall Street folks when he later became the top federal prosecutor in New York, declaring that a mandatory jail term should await anybody who commits perjury or obstruction of justice.
Those being two offenses that special counsel Robert Mueller appears to be considering as his ongoing investigation seeks to establish truth that can be proven to be truth.
As the Giuliani-of-now tells us truth is not truth, he seems to confirm the truth of what the Giuliani-of-back-then said when he described these crimes of lies and evasion as “enemies of the system.”