NYPD Confidential - An Inside Look at the New York Police Department
Home Page
All Columns
Contact Leonard Levitt
Search this site
Printable versionSend to a friendEmail Leonard LevittSign up to get column in email

Get a link in your mailbox to your weekly NYPD Confidential column as soon as it is published! Click on the button above right on this page — or here — to sign up for this feature.

Wherefore Rudy?

May 14, 2018   

What to make of Rudy Giuliani’s fumbling, stumbling and bumbling as he contradicted President Donald Trump about payments to porn star Stormy Daniels; his “storm troopers” comment about FBI agents who raided the offices of Trump’s fixer/lawyer Michael Cohen; and his seeming justification of hush-money payments that led the law firm he worked for to drop him as partner?

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialWatching him as he appeared as Trump’s counsel, one wonders whether his capacity has been — and I choose the term carefully — diminished.

Yet a longtime friend and colleague said the former mayor is “in his element, not constricted by the political arena, free to say what he wants and be who he is.”

“To me, he doesn’t seem any different,” the friend told NYPD Confidential on the condition of anonymity to speak freely. “He can say what he wants. He said what he did [about Daniels] on purpose to get out that the payment was not made by the Trump campaign, which would have been a crime.”

Yes, he’s getting up in age — 74 on May 28 — the friend acknowledges. “Mentally, I don’t think he has lost it. He’s a little more flippant. … I think now he’s as happy as a pig in sh…”

Whatever Giuliani is now, he is not the same man who 25 years ago saved New York City by supercharging the NYPD and stopping the city's three-decade crime wave. At the same time, he forever angered liberals — whites and non-whites — by speaking out on an issue that few dared raise — specifically, that virtually all of NYC’s violent crime was committed by black New Yorkers against other black New Yorkers. That is what the city’s first black police commissioner, Ben Ward, had a decade before called “our dirty little secret.”

Then came 9/11. Displaying a restraint he had rarely exhibited as mayor, Giuliani guided the city through the attack’s aftermath. Time magazine made him its 2001 Man of the Year, calling him “America’s Mayor.”

In perhaps his finest moment, he refused to accept a $10 million check from Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal for disaster relief after the 911 attack because the prince stated that the United States should “re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance towards … our Palestinian brethren [who] continue to be slaughtered at the hands of the Israelis.”

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard Levitt“I’ll never forget that day,” recalled Giuliani’s longtime friend. “Rudy went nuts when he saw the prince’s statement.”

A former top NYPD official said: “No one told him what to do. He didn’t have his finger in the air, seeing which way the wind was blowing. He acted solely out of principle.”

Giuliani returned the check, saying, “I entirely reject that statement. There is no moral equivalent to this act. The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification ...” If there was any question as to who was in the right, the prince then wrote that Giuliani had succumbed to “Jewish pressure.”

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialBut when Giuliani sought to become president seven years later, he abandoned principle for opportunism. He played to his basest instincts, which were homophobic and borderline racist. He was the Republican front-runner heading into the 2008 campaign, but he ended with but one delegate.

Now as Trump’s attorney, Giuliani has become a mirror image of Trump himself.  “Like Trump, he has no filter,” says the former top NYPD official. “He’s saying in public what he used to say only in private.”

What will the future hold for him? Perhaps Shakespeare’s passage from Macbeth’s Act V, Scene 5 captures it best:

     “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
      That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
      And then is heard no more….”

« Back to top
Copyright © 2018 Leonard Levitt