Genius or Idiot?

rudy clown

In Rudy Giuliani Is Possibly a Legal Genius, But Probably Just an Idiot, Jonathan Chait writes,

It is certainly true, as a public relations strategy, that there is some gain in manipulating the media’s perception of what counts as “news.” Scandals that get broken by news outlets tend to attract far more attention than revelations offered up for attorneys for the president. Giuliani floated a highly incriminating admission, but before the media could absorb and amplify it, quickly led reporters into a surreal netherworld. Trump’s involvement in the Moscow project during the campaign is both a disclosed fact (old news!) and a charge Trump’s supporters can deny. And by the time reporters sort through the confusion and nail Giuliani down to one position, he’ll have dazzled everybody with a new confession.

Of course, he’s probably just an idiot. On the other hand, with a client facing as many points of legal vulnerability as Trump, is there really a better strategy?

Aardvark’s Animadversion

Well, whether he is a genius or an idiot or something else, he is clearly a lawyer with two big problems: his client is provably guilty, and his client lacks the sense God gave him, in consequence of which the client is a danger to himself and others.

I think the best explanation of Rudy’s odd behavior is that he tries to “get ahead of the story” by admitting the really bad facts, and then constructing the least implausible “explanation” that he can find.

When he tries that approach, his client is pissed off, and his client orders him to go back to the old strategy—lying about the provable facts.

This is where Rudy makes his biggest mistake.

Instead of withdrawing as counsel, which is what any sensible person would do in such a circumstance, he obeys his client, retracts his admission of provably facts, and thus beclowns himself.

And for what?

Dog Bites Man


From the New York Daily News: Party celebrating Rudy Giuliani nixed because no one wants to go

Daily Kos comments,

What is there to say about former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani that hasn’t been farted into a bag and fed to a demon for punishment? New York’s Daily News reports that plans for a big 25th-anniversary party for Giuliani, marking the dark day he became mayor, have been scuttled. Why? Because no one wants to be at a party celebrating a guy who may or may not be a part of the biggest and most treasonous and disgraceful chapters in American history.

In the Washington Post a pundit explains in considerable detail how Trump borrows his rhetoric—and his view of power—from the mob.

I Picked the Wrong Hypothetical Example

Trump sacrifice

In yesterday’s post I analogized Trump’s constitutional arguments to a constitutional claim that John Doe may assert a free religious expression defense to justify human sacrifice.

Instead, I ought to have envisioned a hypothetical case in which Donald Trump asserts a constitutional defense to justify human sacrifice. See

Giuliani: Trump Could Have Shot Comey And Still Couldn’t Be Indicted For It

That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It


WASHINGTON — President Trump undercut his attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, on Friday, and said the former New York mayor will eventually get the facts right regarding a payment to a pornographic actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Giuliani, who joined Mr. Trump’s legal team last month, “started a day ago,” Mr. Trump said, speaking to reporters on Friday as he left Washington to attend a National Rifle Association convention in Dallas.

“He’s a great guy,” Mr. Trump said. “He’ll get his facts straight.”

Trump Undercuts Giuliani About Payments to Stormy Daniels

A prediction from an unimpeachable source, indeed.

One of the talking heads said this morning that Trump has about three different version of the Stormy Daniels story rolling around in his head. She added that, when you talk to him, there’s no telling which of the three stories he will tell.

It would have been good—for Trump—if he and his cronies had come together a long time ago, agreed on what lies they would tell, and then have everybody stick to them. But now, it’s too late.


Order in the Court!


I have been doing some pro bono lawyering myself in the last few days, and have now come up to the surface. It appears that a lot has been going on. I want to answer a few questions, to the best of my modest ability.

So, what was the first thing you noticed about the DNC suit against the Russkies and a bunch of the Trump entourage?

As is my wont on such occasions, I first turned to the signature page—page 54 in this instance—to see who signed the complaint. The answer: it was one Michael Eisenkraft of the Cohen Milllstein firm. They are a leading plaintiffs’ firm, known for big class action cases for alleged corporate misdeeds of various kinds. They are both ethical and highly effective. If you are in the defense bar and learn that Cohen Milstein has just sued your client’s ass, the conclusion to which you will leap is that your client’s ass has just been well and truly sued.

And proving “conspiracies”? They wrote the book on it?

Named defendants include the Trump campaign, Donald Trump, Jr., and five other Trump cronies. If Trump himself is having trouble finding a lawyers of stature to represent him, won’t his cronies have the devil’s own time finding good lawyers to represent them?

Yes, I would think that would be the case.

Why didn’t they name Trump as a defendant?

Probably, lots of reasons. One is that they avoid a big fight at the beginning of the case about when and how a sitting president can be sued.

What laws are the defendants charged with violating?

The central charge is that they all conspired to violate Sections 1831 and 1832 of Title 18 (the title that codifies federal criminal law). The crimes forbidden by these two sections are, respectively, economic espionage and theft of trade secrets. Although private parties cannot directly prosecute federal criminal violations, they may use these alleged violations as “predicate acts” in a civil case for damages under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO.

What will happen next?

Once they secure lawyers to defend them—which may be no easy task—I assume that, in an effort to avoid “discovery,” defense counsel will file one or more motions to dismiss “for failure to state a claim for relief” under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

I say “one or more” motions, because counsel for the various defendants may want to make rather different arguments.

Some of the Trump cronies may want to retain common counsel, and that may happen. But it will be tricky, because one or more of the cronies may want to settle and turn his coat on the others. And that, ladies and germs, creates what we call a conflict of interest.

Almost surely, the Roosian defendants will have a separate team from the Trump crony defendants. Doesn’t look good for the Trump crony defendants to say, “Conspiracy? What conspiracy? But, by the way, here we are in court represented by the same lawyers who work for the Russian intelligence agencies.”

Will the defendants succeed in getting the case dismissed before discovery?

Long story short: I very much doubt it. Legally, the case seems well founded. As to the facts, well, some of the talking heads have pointed out that you can’t prove facts in court by relying on news reports. But the complaint doesn’t try to “prove facts.” It tries to lay out a good factual basis for proceeding to the discovery phase of litigation.

And besides, the American bar and the American judiciary are well and truly pissed at Donald J. Trump. Even his guy Gorsuch ruled against him last week. Judges read the newspapers and watch the news. When calling the balls and strikes, they are not going to give Trump the benefit of the doubt.

What will happen when the defendants lose their motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim for relief?

Discovery: disclosure of relevant records, depositions, lots of opportunities to commit perjury. Lots of pressure on the weakest defendants to break ranks.

Turning to other matters, what about Rudi Giuliani’s joining Trump’s legal team?

Trump is in deep legal trouble. In desperation, he has hired competent white collar criminal defense counsel in New York and in Miami. But where you have legal troubles on many fronts, where the issues in one case relate to the issues in another case, and where there is a risk of multiple lawyers getting in one another’s way, what you badly need is a very clever spider sitting at the center of the web.

Rudy Guiliani is not that person. Rudy Giuliani is a blowhard—who himself will probably be a witness in one or more Trump-related cases.

Rudy and The Donald truly deserve one another. Aardvark welcomes Rudy to the circus.

Some have pointed out that Rudy hasn’t even worked in criminal law since 1989, and has probably lost his skills. Do you agree?

No, I don’t think that’s the issue. If he last rode a bicycle in 1989, he would probably still know how to ride a bicycle. The issue is his temperament and his judgment—which are, respectively, repellent and nonexistent.

And, finally, do you have anything new to say about the Michael Cohen raid and the legal circus going on in Manhattan federal court?

Yes, I do. Please check out The Judge in the Michael Cohen-Stormy Daniels Case Is Perfect: A porn star in the courtroom? The president’s secrets at stake? Why Kimba Wood isn’t even blinking.