Publicly Available Information Appears to Put Giuliani at the Center of a Watergate-Level Conspiracy
A little over a month later, the president-elect ruled out Giuliani having any role in his administration whatsoever.
So what happened between November 7 and December 9?
Accounts are murky, and suspiciously so. A few days ago, Giuliani, who’s never held a political position higher than mayor, told the press that being Secretary of State of the United States and fourth in the line of presidential succession was “the only challenge left for me”—so that when that particular job offer went elsewhere, he had no difficulty rejecting all other offers of a cabinet position.
Other reports say Trump—who’d relied on Giuliani as his most tireless media surrogate and advisor for the entirety of his general election campaign—suddenly decided, post-election, that Giuliani was in poor health and suffered from narcoleptic episodes.
Additional reports that the famously ambitious, 9/11-citing Giuliani was offered and rejected multiple cabinet positions—including Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security—make perfect sense to no one.
Other reports to the effect that Trump was worried about Giuliani’s business ties—and possible conflicts of interest abroad—are of course laughable on their face, as nearly every cabinet member Trump has nominated, and indeed especially his Secretary of State pick, will face exactly these sorts of questions at their confirmation hearings. There is no evidence that Giuliani’s potential conflicts of interest are in the same realm as Rex Tillerson’s—let alone Trump’s.
So it’s reasonable to ask whether anything about Giuliani’s role in the Trump campaign might have caused Trump some concerns. Specifically, the operative question is whether there was anything damaging that might have come up had Giuliani been put under oath during his Senate confirmation hearings. (Given that Giuliani made a run for president in 2008, at which point he faced, at most, difficult questions about his lack of marital fidelity—an issue now fully aired—there’s no reason to believe he holds as-yet unvetted policy positions that would be a hindrance to Senate confirmation.)
So it behooves us to see whether Giuliani was at the center of any controversies during the course of the 2016 presidential campaign.
As it happens, he was.
Indeed, he was at the center of the most controversial sequence of events in the 2016 election: James Comey’s “October Surprise,” a letter the Director of the FBI “chose” to write to Congress on October 28th. That letter, immediately leaked to the press by House Republicans, intimated that the FBI had found new evidence in its criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s basement email server.
Comey himself had only discovered this information on October 27—though his agents had been holding onto it since October 3.
I wrote above that Comey “chose” to write his now-infamous letter. But did he?
No—Comey’s hand was forced.
As The New York Times has reported, “although Mr. Comey told Congress this summer that the Clinton investigation was complete, he believed that if word of the new emails leaked out—and it was sure to leak out, he concluded—he risked being accused of misleading Congress and the public ahead of an election” (emphasis supplied).
So why was Comey so certain that his own organization would violate the Hatch Act? (The Hatch Act is a federal statute prohibiting certain federal employees, including FBI agents, from engaging in partisan political behavior by, among other things, issuing targeted leaks to the press.) And why was Comey’s certainty at such a fevered pitch on October 28th that it prompted him to violate longstanding FBI protocol prohibiting administrative actions that could influence an election in the 60 days before Election Day? In this respect the “Comey Letter” certainly seemed out of character for the FBI director, who had not only previously declined to prosecute Hillary Clinton but was also universally known as a “straight shooter.”
The most likely answer for Comey’s uncharacteristic behavior? Again, Rudy Giuliani.
Per a CNN report, on October 28 Rudy Giuliani went on the Lars Larson radio program and confessed that current agents in the FBI had committed Hatch Act violations to get him information about the ongoing Clinton investigation. Specifically, wrote CNN, “the former mayor said he was in contact with former agents ‘and a few active agents, who obviously don’t want to identify themselves.’” Giuliani wasn’t even being especially coy; he was quite clearly indicating that the reason the current FBI agents who’d spoken to him didn’t want to identify themselves was because their contact with him had been illegal.
The next day, Giuliani tried to walk back this very explicit claim of being the recipient of Hatch Act-violative leaks. He’d only been speaking with former FBI agents, he now maintained to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. His reference to “a few active agents who obviously don’t want to identify themselves,” and his careful distinction of those agents from the former agents he’d also been speaking to, was just a slip-up, he said. In fact—exhibiting, suddenly, a remarkably clear memory as to whom he’d spoken to and when—he said he hadn’t spoken to a current FBI agent in “ten months.”
Unfortunately, no one was buying it.
Indeed, multiple Congressmen almost immediately called for a Congressional investigation into what Giuliani knew and when he knew it. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign proposed that the Inspector General of the FBI should investigate the matter.
Yet even if you believe Giuliani merely slipped up, and that in fact he’d only been speaking with retired FBI agents, it wouldn’t matter. Why? Because if current FBI agents issued targeted leaks to retired FBI agents known to be “close, personal friends” of Giuliani—per Giuliani’s own description of the latter men—it would still be the case that rank-and-file FBI agents delivering confidential information to the Trump campaign through known Giuliani intermediaries was illegal.
So did the rank-and-file FBI agents in the New York field office of the FBI have a motive to use Giuliani’s friends as an intermediary to illegally feed confidential information to the Trump campaign? Absolutely, says Giuliani. Asked on November 4, on Fox & Friends, about whether he had heard about the “reopening” of the Clinton investigation prior to James Comey announcing it publicly, Giuliani replied, “Did I hear about it? You’re darn right I heard about it. And I can’t even repeat the language that I heard from the former FBI agents.” And Giuliani has had much more to say on this point since then, conceding to having inside information about the “tremendous anger within the FBI about...Comey’s conclusion [to not recommend criminal charges against Clinton in July] and...the way they [the FBI rank-and-file] believed they were being obstructed by what they regard as a pretty corrupt Obama Justice Department.”
If this seems to you like something Giuliani maybe shouldn’t have said publicly, you’re right. But in fact he’d slipped up far worse in his conversation with Fox & Friends on November 4.
Speaking of Comey’s announcement that “new” evidence had been found in the Clinton investigation, Giuliani told Fox News, “I had expected this for the last, honestly, to tell you the truth, I thought it was going to be about three or four weeks ago” (emphasis supplied).
“Three or four weeks ago”—of course. Because “three or four weeks ago” is when the New York field office of the FBI had found the “new” Clinton emails on Anthony Wiener’s server. It was “three or four weeks ago” that these same agents had begun a widely reported 24-day campaign to hide this information from Director Comey—the better to ensure that any leak of the information would cause maximum pre-election damage to the Clinton campaign. Had the “new” information held by these rank-and-file agents leaked to the media in the first week of October, it would have had little to no impact on the election. Instead, the agents’ deliberate delay in sending this information up the chain of command forced Comey to reveal the information at the very end of October—thereby creating a story that exploded like a political hand grenade over the entire first week of November.
Giuliani’s slip on Fox News thus helps us establish the timeline for a possible conspiracy between the FBI and the Trump campaign to illegally leak FBI evidence and swing the presidential election to Trump:
October 3rd: Agents investigating Anthony Wiener out of the New York field office of the FBI receive a computer Wiener previously shared with his estranged wife Huma Abedin. The agents immediately discover emails from Clinton on the computer. They tell no one else within the FBI. Indeed, instead of asking Director Comey to get a warrant to view the emails, or asking Wiener or Abedin directly for permission to read the emails—as both Wiener and Abedin were cooperative FBI witnesses at that point—they spend weeks searching through the emails’ “meta-data” (that is, “to” and “from” fields within individual emails). No one knows why they do this. The emails aren’t relevant to their investigation, and, even if they were, they’d have multiple avenues—including all three of Comey and Wiener and Abedin—to get full access to the email archive on Wiener’s computer.
October 7th-October 14th: This is ”three or four weeks” before Giuliani’s November 4th interview. During this period either current agents at the New York field office of the FBI or retired agents from that office known to be “close, personal” friends of Rudy Giuliani—legally, it doesn’t matter which, as even using go-betweens to leak FBI-held investigatory material would violate the Hatch Act—tell Rudy Giuliani that the FBI has “new” email evidence on Clinton. Whether Giuliani is given all the details of the “new” evidence is immaterial; Giuliani knows that the agents want this “new” information to re-open the Clinton investigation and also want that re-opening to become public, and knows the Trump campaign would benefit enormously if it did become public. But he doesn’t yet know whether the FBI will be able to convince Comey to make it public. Meanwhile, Comey still hasn’t been told of the “new” (in fact, duplicate) emails. Comey, had he known of the emails at this point, could have used meta-data to see that the emails were just “synched” versions of emails from Abedin accounts already held by the FBI.
October 25th: Giuliani tells Fox & Friends, in the context of a very lengthy discussion about the FBI investigation into Clinton’s email server, that Trump still has some surprises in store for the Clinton campaign. When asked by host Brian Kilmeade if Trump has anything planned in the 14 days before the election other than “a series of inspiring rallies,” Giuliani replies, “Yes.” Then he laughs—it’s fair to say (watch the video for yourself) “deviously.” Asked to explain what the Trump campaign has planned, he grins and says, “You’ll see.” He laughs again and says, “We’ve got a couple of surprises left.” (If you watch this video, at 8:45, you’ll be certain that Giuliani is talking about new information on the FBI’s Clinton investigation—information we know he had at that point. His knowing smile when another host mentions the FBI in the final five seconds of the interview is also startling.)
Later—but only after he’s accused of receiving Hatch Act-violative leaks from the FBI—Giuliani tries to walk back his October 25th comments by saying that he was then referring to a new Trump ad campaign. Indeed, in the video from the 25th Giuliani does seem to imply—for a moment—that the surprise in question could be a new ad campaign, though perhaps one in which the Trump campaign would reveal for the first time that “new” Clinton emails had been found by the FBI. Specifically, Giuliani says to his Fox News interviewers that the Trump campaign is planning “surprises in the way that we’re going to campaign to get our message out there, maybe in a little of a different way, you’ll see, and I do think it’ll be enormously effective, and I do think that all of these revelations about Hillary Clinton—finally—are beginning to have an impact” (emphasis supplied). Yet the later walk-back doesn’t explain why Giuliani links the new ad campaign to the FBI’s investigation of Clinton.
In a November 4th interview with Megyn Kelly, Giuliani will explain his October 25th reference to a (supposed) “surprise” ad campaign this way: “I was talking [on October 25th] about Trump’s advertising this weekend [November 4th through November 6th]. Because we were having a big debate about whether he should do a big speech or a bunch of advertising. That’s what I was talking about. That he was going to go on television and talk directly to the American people. No reference at all to the emails.” Perhaps because the new ad campaign sounds no different from any other ad campaign Trump had ever run—far from an “October Surprise”—Kelly’s response to Giuliani drips with incredulity (as you can see for yourself on the above video): “That would’ve been kind of lame,” Kelly says to Giuliani wryly. “You should be glad that something bigger came out—to not make a liar out of you.”
During the October 25th Fox & Friends interview Giuliani had also had another telling exchange—this time, about allegations that the Clinton campaign had a political consulting firm hire “Donald Ducks” to appear at Trump rallies (the idea being that Trump was “ducking” releasing his tax returns). Host Steve Doocy asks, “Isn’t that illegal? When you’ve got an outside group coordinating with the campaign?” (Emphasis supplied.) Giuliani’s irony-free response is perfect: “Yes. Yeah, it’s what we would call unethical. Illegal. Dirty tricks.”
October 26th: Giuliani continues teasing an “October Surprise,” but begins ramping up his rhetoric. Unprompted—indeed, as Fox News host Martha McCallum is trying to end her interview with him—Giuliani says of Trump, “He’s got a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next few days. I’m talking about some pretty big surprises,“ he adds with a grin. (Recall that he will later claim to Megyn Kelly, remarkably, that “the next few days” actually meant “in nine to eleven days”—that is, the weekend before the election.) When pressed by McCallum for more information, Giuliani says, “You’ll see!” And then he laughs again. “We’ve got a couple things up our sleeve that should turn things around,” he adds with a big smile.
October 27th: The Wiener-investigating FBI agents in the New York field office of the FBI, who’ve been sitting on evidence in James Comey’s Clinton investigation—for no obvious purpose—for well over three weeks now, deign to tell their boss for the first time that they have “new” evidence. They demand that Comey publicly re-open the Clinton investigation before Election Day. These are the same agents Giuliani repeatedly describes, in multiple television interviews, as being livid at Clinton for escaping prosecution, and livid at Comey for not prosecuting her. It’s unclear whether at this point (a) Comey has himself seen Giuliani’s teasing of an “October Surprise” on Fox News, (b) the agents inform him that the Trump campaign somehow knows about the “new” emails and could leak it before the election, or (c) the agents imply to Comey that it is they who will leak the “new” information if Comey himself doesn’t go public with it. All we know is what happens the next day, October 28th.
October 28th: Comey issues the now-infamous “Comey Letter” to Congress, and it’s immediately leaked to the press by House Republicans. Media reports indicate that Comey wrote the letter because he’d become “sure” that news of the “new” emails would leak to the press before Election Day. How he’s developed this certainty he does not divulge, and we still don’t know. Readily excluded here is any theory that holds that it was Comey who wanted to release the new information—as he’d already decided, months earlier, not to prosecute Clinton, and the nature of the “new” evidence was such that it had no chance of being a different kind of evidence from that already seen (and, for prosecutorial purposes, ignored) by Comey.
October 30th: Comey, who tells Congress that his office has been reviewing the “new” emails “around the clock” since he found out about them on October 27th, finally applies for and receives a search warrant to read the emails—which he and/or his agents only could have done prior to this date illegally. It is later revealed that the warrant was defective on its face, as the FBI had no basis to believe the “new” emails were either new, evidence of a crime, or accompanied by the specific intent to violate federal law that Comey had already said (in July) would be necessary to prove a prosecutable crime.
November 6th: After rank-and-file FBI agents in the New York field office erroneously tell the press that there is “no way” that the “new” emails can be read and deemed material or immaterial prior to Election Day, they are overruled by Comey, who pushes his investigators to confirm that the emails are neither new nor evidence of a crime by November 6th—just 48 hours before the election. At this point, tens of millions of Americans have already voted. Many millions more never hear the updated news: that the “re-opening” of the Clinton investigation was a total “dud” surprise—a legal (and indeed factual) non-starter.
November 8th-December 9th: For the first month that he is President-elect, Trump leaks that Giuliani is being considered for Secretary of State—but appears to never interview him for the job or play him up as a potential candidate. On December 9th it is revealed (accompanied by a series of increasingly unlikely cover stories) that Giuliani has been excluded from the administration altogether. During this period, Democratic Congressmen and the Clinton campaign have kept up their insistence that Giuliani’s role in the election be investigated—all but ensuring that at his confirmation hearings for any post in the Trump administration he will be asked about FBI agents’ possible violations of the Hatch Act.
He will, in short, be asked by Democratic Senators—on national television—what he knew and when he knew it.
The “Watergate” question.
Yet none can doubt that this story is bigger than Watergate, as it begins with violation of a major federal statute (the Hatch Act), widens into a conspiracy between a nonpartisan and taxpayer-funded law enforcement agency and Donald Trump’s most loyal adviser and surrogate, and comes to fruition on an Election Day in which all available data shows the result of the conspiracy being a swing of millions of votes to Donald Trump. Indeed, in a poll taken just before the election by Politico, 33 percent of Americans say that the Comey Letter made them “much less likely” to vote for Clinton—including enough previously committed Clinton voters (enough, indeed, by a factor of 1200% to 1500%) to swing the ballot tallies in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
Those three states ultimately gave Trump the Electoral College by a mere 77,000 votes.
All of the above draws from publicly available information. None of the above has yet been put together, however, by anyone in the mainstream media—as their singular focus on Russia and their self-consciousness about “not re-litigating the election” has permitted a Watergate-level conspiracy to go unreported and unpunished.