At the King David Hotel in Jerusalem yesterday, following an hour-long pointed and wide-ranging talk with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, lawyer and close friend of US President Donald Trump, Giuliani pulls out a cigar to emphasize his opinion of the criminal investigation against another good friend of his - israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Giuliani was mayor of New York in 1994-2001. His term is remembered for his uncompromising war against crime that aroused criticism of his aggressive attitude towards homeless people. He is also remembered his actions following the Twin Towers disaster, which made him an international star, among other things because of the leadership crisis, or at least the appearance of one, of then-President George W. Bush.
Giuliani is currently the lawyer and confidant of the world's most powerful man - a man who stops at nothing and is willing to dirty his hands on behalf of his boss in the White House.
"I have no government role today, so I have no problem. They held a big birthday party for me a few days ago (Giuliani celebrated his 74th birthday on May 28). I know all of the cigar makers, so no one will get mad if the cigar I'm holding here isn't one of theirs."
"Globes": Do you think there is a witch hunt against Netanyahu?
Giuliani: "I don't know about everything they're investigating there, but the part about the cigars is really infuriating. As it happens, I really like cigars, and I'm sure that I also once sat down to smoke a cigar with Bibi. Actually, you're robbing me of my cigar-smoking time."
Are you aware that this is spin? There are investigations that don't concern cigars and there are other matters on the agenda.
"Do they have this on tape? Did anyone see the evidence? I haven't seen the recordings, and if this was leaked, I doubt that until I see it. Meanwhile, I haven't seen anything."
The strategy: Attack Hilary
In April, Giuliani joined Trump's legal team. Together with Advocate Jay Sekulow, appointed a month earlier, Trump's personal legal team's strategy is clear and unconcealed. Every question is rebuffed with an answer about Hilary Clinton. Former FBI director James Comey, whom Trump fired in early 2017, is a big crook and special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is filing an indictment today against former members of Trump's campaign team, is a little crook. They are both friends of the Democrats and are surrounded by people who are friends of Hilary Clinton. She? She should have been sent to prison long ago. Were Giuliani Attorney General instead of Jeff Sessions, it might have happened.
Giuliani, who was a guest on a morning political program on ABC last Sunday, said that Trump had the option of issuing a presidential pardon to himself, if the conditions were right. He set the television networks and social networks alight with his bombastic statement. 24 hours later, he met us for an interview ahead of tomorrow's "Globes" Capital Market Conference, at which Giuliani will be the keynote speaker.
Just like his client in the White House, Giuliani is unapologetic, uncompromising, and aggressive. "I'm in Israel until Sunday, he says. "Then I'll visit our new embassy in Jerusalem and I'll see all of our happy employees there. I'll have dinner with our ambassador, David Friedman, who is a close friend."
Were they glad in Washington about the embassy being moved?
"The president was surprised and glad that there wasn't as much violence and controversy as people thought there would be. It was a difficult decision to make. If you look at the period before the decision and in retrospect, it was a wise decision, and this is the reason why Trump is a great leader. I wish I had been present at the embassy moving event. My partner in representing Trump, Jay Sekulow, attended the event. He's Jewish and worked for many years with the evangelist community in the US, who are the biggest supporters of Israel. My Jewish friends in New York tell me that evangelists support Israel even more than the American Jewish community."
Many people in Israel do not understand Trump
"Trump is the best friend that Israel has ever had. I used to think that only Presidents Reagan and Bush were good friends of Israel. Obama was not a good friend and Clinton was OK. But Trump is making decisions that no one before him had the guts to make. The US Congress passed a law ordering that the embassy be moved to Jerusalem and it never happened. All of Trump's predecessors made promises that they didn't keep."
Weren't you afraid that moving the embassy would affect your relations with the Palestinian Authority?
"Trump's relationship with the Palestinians is different than what has historically been. It's not that he doesn't want to see them live in peace and do well, but he feels that the first and main step must be done by them. They got to cut out the terrorism. They have to stop training people to kill, and they have to stop killing Christians and Jews.
"How can you make peace with a country that wants to harbor terrorists. I've never seen such a policy. Clinton's policy, which has actually never been carried out to this day, was completely unwise and empowered Arafat. He was a murderer and a crook who took money intended for his people for himself. He was a bad man. Clinton went out of his way to get somewhere with him just to win a Nobel Peace Prize. He distorted things for that. Arafat simply didn't want peace; what interested him was getting more money."
Have you seen the peace plan that the president's advisors, Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, are preparing? Why is the White House still promoting such a plan when there is no one to talk to? People in Israel are saying the same thing about Mahmoud Abbas that you are saying about Arafat - that he cannot be trusted.
"I've seen the plan. Theoretically it makes the whole sense in the world. Practically, who knows? They can't be trusted, but I'm the one who advised the president about the plan concerning the Palestinians. I am much more of a hardliner because of my position on terorism which goes back to the 70s when I worked on indictments against the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). I have seen all these plans go nowhere.
"It a hard thing to say, but the focus should be that the change has to come from the Palestinian side. The Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and Fatah are the ones who have to cut out terrorism, because if they want to engage in terrorism, they should not become a state. The US has no need for the establishment of another terrorist country."
You are much less optimistic than the president, who claims that a deal can be made.
"I'm not in the middle of this so I wouldn't know if it can be done or not. My caution would be that a deal should be made only if there is a material change within the Palestinian Authority and they forego terrorism. That was what Clinton did right. The IRA was a terrorist group and today, it's a small faction."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 5, 2018
Do you think that President Trump understands the conflict in the Middle East in depth?
"President Trump has the most realistic understanding of the conflict, more than any other American president. Two other presidents who understood these were President Reagan and President Bush Jr. They understood it well. But when you ask, 'Does someone who isn't Israeli understand?', they obviously don't. So we have to follow your lead, you Israelis, about what you want.
"With regard to the Israeli side, our consistent position for many years has been that Israel is one of the best allies of the US, so it is worthy of respect from us. The Israelis should tell us what they want to achieve and we'll advise them how to get there. If there's something we want to achieve, we know that the Israelis are there with us.
"As for reaching an agreement with the Palestinians, let's assume that they sign something, and even a territorial division in Jerusalem, something that's unacceptable to me, but let's say that it's part of the agreements and everyone gets a Nobel Prize. So what? Palestinian terrorists will start attacking both inside Palestine and inside Israel. This isn't a peace agreement; it's a joke. Before anything else, they have to prove that they are abjuring terrorism. What about putting a stop to teaching children in schools to throw stones at Israelis? Teaching them that Israel is Satan and that the US is a terrible country? You know that this is what they teach them there, don't you? It's not a made-up story. Do they want money? Authority? We won't give it to them so they can use the money to continue teaching children to attack and kill. Do they think we're stupid?
"The burden of making a change is on the Palestinian side. It won't happen until the someone gets up with courage, speaks without political correctness, and says what has to be said about the Palestinians. Everyone in Europe will howl because they’ve gone completely in the direction of the liberal press, but that's the only way peace will be achieved, as President Reagan did. He achieved peace only after telling the truth about the Soviet Union being an evil empire. He didn't play the game of the presidents before him, who broke before the Soviets.
"Why did I vote for this crazy leftist?"
"I was a Democrat who supported Kennedy. The last time I voted for the Democrats was for George McGovern (defeated by Nixon in 1972, N.S., T.S.) and I greatly regretted it. I told myself, 'Why did I vote for this crazy leftist who didn't want to safeguard America? Then I voted for Ford and Reagan. I switched to working for Reagan and voted for him again and have voted only for Republicans ever since. I officially joined the Republican Party in 1981 before running for New York district attorney."
Did you think that Trump would become president? That he would be elected? Did you think in 2015 that it was possible?
"To tell the truth, I can't remember what I thought about it in 2015. The amazing thing is that they're investigating Trump for conspiracy and the crazy thing is that according to the ridiculous indictment that the special prosecutor (Mueller, N.S., T.S.) is preparing, the conspiracy with the Russians began in 2015 before Trump was a candidate. The Russians were plotting among themselves, not with Trump. This is a completely biased investigation. The Russians have engaged in various conspiracies against the US election campaign since the Cold War, and they usually gamble on the wrong side. All of Clinton's emails that they exposed were real emails; she was really surrounded by a group of horrible characters."
Campaign against the law authorities
Giuliani is playing a key role in the president's aggressive media campaign against the law authorities, the court system, the investigators, and the press. He is going from studio to studio, bombarding the hosts and interviewers with bombastic statements, and in many cases serving as Trump's lightening rod. Several weeks ago, he declared (on Trump's behalf) that the president had repaid $130,000 in hush money to Advocate Michael Cohen that had been given to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels so that she would not reveal her affair with Trump more than a decade ago. Cohen was investigated by the authorities for violations of campaign financing laws simultaneously with the investigations against him for his ties with Russia.
Giuliani's media declarations made waves, and the White House issued a statement saying, " “He started yesterday. He’ll get his facts straight.” Two weeks later, the president's capital declaration was published containing a small line with a report on the reimbursement. The US press reported that Giuliani had simply took the fire on himself in order to soften in advance the information that would be revealed in Trump's capital declaration. In order to fortify the president's position, Giuliani is prepared to call everyone else liars, unethical, and criminals.
As an American citizen, do you feel comfortable with the ideal that the Russians are interfering with your election campaign?
"Obviously it doesn't make me feel good, but don't you think that the US interferes with other countries' election campaigns? In Ukraine, for example. We intervene for freedom - people's freedom."
What about the publication of fake news on Facebook?
"I don't know what they did on Facebook, but it's not anything that affected the election results. I do know that what they disseminate through Wikileaks, for example the emails of John Podesta (head of Hilary Clinton's team, N.S., T.S.) proved that Podesta is a corrupt person who prefers to avert his eyes."
Why did Putin want Trump to be president?
"I don't know if he wanted Trump the way he wanted to show that he had influence. In my opinion, he thought that Hilary would win. Maybe he tried to soften up her victory. I wouldn't want to bet on what he had there and how he got his hands on 34,000 erased emails, but did the Russian administration also have the emails? Maybe the Chinese, maybe the NSA? Who knows? I think that even the White House West Wing (referring to Obama, N.S., T.S.) realized what a fraudulent candidate she was.
"Remember that Trump won the elections. Long before the Russian story, Trump overcame 17 Republican candidates. I'm the one who prepared him for the debates. I've known him for 30 years and understand his head and the way he thinks. I know what he's good at.
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018