Forty years ago, Rudy Giuliani was the fearless Mafia-busting prosecutor whose aggressive use of racketeering laws brought down New York’s Five Families.
On Tuesday, he was fighting for his own freedom after being ensnared by the very legal strategy he had pioneered.
The man once feted as “America’s Mayor” for steering the US financial hub through the horror of the September 11, 2001 attacks has experienced a stunning fall from grace.
Charged with 13 felonies over the help he is alleged to have given his client and longtime friend Donald Trump in trying to subvert the 2020 presidential election, the attorney is threatened with years behind bars as his 80th birthday approaches.
“It’s just the next chapter in a book of lies with the purpose of framing President Donald Trump and anyone willing to take on the ruling regime,” Giuliani said on X, formerly known as Twitter, after he was charged Monday.
It was a typically bombastic response from the 107th mayor of New York City, who played a starring role in Trump’s post-election push to cling to power through an allegedly criminal campaign of lies about voter fraud.
Giuliani was charged Monday under Georgia’s Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Practices (RICO) statute, the plaudits he once earned squandered in a series of increasingly bizarre media appearances around the 2020 election.
He is one of 18 co-defendants charged alongside Trump.
– ‘Person of the Year’ –
They included an unwitting cameo in a Sacha Baron Cohen movie in which Giuliani was filmed lying on a hotel bed with his hands down his pants, and a post-election press conference held outside a landscaping business surrounded by a crematorium and a sex shop.
At another press event, Giuliani and his allies claimed mass voter fraud without a shred of evidence as hair dye streamed in dark rivulets down the attorney’s cheeks.
Born in an Italian American enclave of Brooklyn on May 28, 1944, Rudolph William Louis Giuliani made his name in his 40s as a pioneering US attorney for Manhattan, using RICO to bring down the high command of the New York mob.
Giuliani captured the New York mayorship in 1993, and gained national prominence in the wake of the 9/11 attacks by helping salve the shocked city’s soul, earning Time Magazine’s prestigious “Person of the Year” honor.
“We’ve undergone tremendous losses, and we’re going to grieve for them horribly, but New York is going to be here tomorrow morning, and it’s going to be here forever,” he declared.
The Republican suffered his first big setback in 2008 with a disastrous bid for the White House, and appeared adrift until Trump eventually brought him back into the fold.
– Gaffes and walk-backs –
After Trump was elected, he appointed Giuliani to fight a federal probe into the campaign’s extensive ties to Russia, and the lawyer became a constant TV presence.
But gaffes and walk-backs were as much a feature of Giuliani’s lawyering as his spirited talk show diatribes — and he led Trump into trouble as often as steering him away.
Never the most reliable spokesman, Giuliani proved susceptible to seemingly unforced admissions — contradicting Trump’s denials over hush money payments to a porn star and his pursuit of a business deal in Moscow before the 2016 election.
But the effort to reverse Trump’s clear election loss in 2020 appears in the end to have sealed Giuliani’s downfall.
One by one, his post-election court challenges were withdrawn or dismissed as groundless.
Giuliani’s license to practice has been suspended in New York over his “demonstrably false” claims of a stolen election and the Bar in the nation’s capital is considering disbarring him.
Long before attracting the attention of a legal system that once basked in his reflected glory, Giuliani acknowledged that representing Trump could end up being his legacy.
“I am afraid it will be on my gravestone. ‘Rudy Giuliani: He lied for Trump,'” he told The New Yorker in 2019.
“If it is, so what do I care? I’ll be dead. I figure I can explain it to St. Peter.”