Maybe Donald Trump’s aside on the tarmac was more of a warning than first thought. Last week, Trump told the press to give Rudy Giuliani a break after his first round of media appearances as a member of Trump’s legal team. “Rudy is a great guy,” Trump said before boarding Marine One, “but he just started a day ago. … He’ll get his facts straight.”
Four days later, Politico reports that Trump’s patience is running thin, but not so much about Giuliani’s grasp of the facts:
President Donald Trump has shaken up his legal team in the last three weeks — and he’s still not happy.
The president has been griping to associates that Rudy Giuliani, his new personal attorney, has failed to shut down the Stormy Daniels hush money saga. And he has expressed frustration that Giuliani’s media appearances are raising more questions than they are answering, turning the story into a days-long drama capped by the admission Sunday that the president may have made similar payments to other women.
For now, White House aides said, Giuliani still has a direct line in to Trump – the two speak almost daily – and nobody in the West Wing is eager to insert themselves between the two irascible New Yorkers by yanking Giuliani off TV. But some aides said they expect the president to fire Giuliani if his behavior doesn’t change.
Giuliani remains sanguine about his prospects nonetheless:
In a phone interview Monday, Giuliani pushed back against the notion that the president is unhappy with his performance. “If I’m not up to it, I don’t know who is,” he told POLITICO. “I know the Justice Department better than just about anyone.”
And that might be true, although Rudy’s closest connection to the DoJ took place decades ago before he went into electoral politics. However, the problems with Rudy don’t come from his work with the DoJ but his work in front of the cameras. Has there been a day in which Giuliani has not made at least one media appearance since joining Trump’s team? There may not have been a day yet without multiple appearances.
That might have been fine if they helped Trump in making his case to the public. None of the appearances have gone well in that regard, especially where it counts, the Washington Post points out:
Laura Ingraham was in the midst of a vigorous defense of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday night when the Fox News host said this: “Trump needs a legal spokesperson, which he doesn’t have at this point.”
Apparently Rudolph W. Giuliani doesn’t count.
Giuliani is President Trump’s lawyer and has been speaking for Trump — or trying to — almost nonstop since last Wednesday, when he appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show and disclosed that the president reimbursed attorney Michael Cohen for a $130,000, pre-election payment to silence porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago.
But Giuliani’s statements have been inconsistent and have failed to rally the president’s media boosters, who often lionize his fiercest surrogates and embrace their talking points.
Rudy might be running into another problem with Trump — getting more attention than the boss. Trump considers himself his best political adviser and public-relations expert. (This is not unknown among presidents, by the way.) If Rudy’s media blitz had been more effective, perhaps Trump would forgive getting eclipsed … for a while. But eclipsing Trump while alienating or at least neutralizing the limited amount of friendly media Trump gets? Yeah, that’s not a sustainable model for Giuliani.
Trump might indeed keep Rudy around for his DoJ expertise. But maybe Rudy should focus on that more and less on setting media fires.
Update: The Associated Press corroborates the Politico account, and adds that Trump may bench Rudy for the rest of the game:
President Donald Trump is growing increasingly irritated with lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s frequently off-message media blitz, which has included muddying the waters on hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels and making claims that could complicate the president’s standing in the special counsel’s Russia probe.
Trump has begun questioning whether Giuliani, an old friend and former New York City mayor, should be sidelined from television interviews, according to two people familiar with the president’s thinking but not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions. …
Many in the White House have begun evoking comparisons between Giuliani and Anthony Scaramucci, another hard-charging New Yorker with a knack for getting TV airtime.
Scaramucci lasted 11 days before being fired. The former White House communications director himself drew parallels between his own burn-bright-burn-fast tenure and Giuliani’s performance.
That’s probably not the most comforting comparison, at least for Giuliani. The Mooch is lovin’ it, though. Dah dah dah dah daaaah:
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) May 6, 2018