• 2008 GOP Presidential Candidate
  • Former Iraq Study Group Member


  • Trump administration legal team (2018- )
  • New York City Mayor (1994-2001)
  • U.S. Attorney (1983-1989)
  • Associate Attorney General (1981-1983)


  • Giuliani Partners: Founder
  • Greenberg Trairig: Global chair, cybersecurity and crisis management
  • Bracewell & Giuliani: Principal
  • Giuliani-Kerik: Former principal


  • New York University, JD
  • Manhattan College, BA

Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani is a Republican politician who was mayor of New York City from 1994-2001, including during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After leaving office, he launched a consulting practice and unsuccessfully ran for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. He has become a vocal right-wing political pundit, often appearing on TV to warn about terrorists or advocate overseas U.S. military intervention.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Giuliani was a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, backing up Trump’s radical talking points, like the claim that President Barack Obama “founded ISIS.” When a CNN host said to Giuliani during an interview that the claim was factually incorrect, Giuliani retorted that “It is true in the sense that before Obama, ISIS was an almost unknown small little organization.”[1]At one point considered to be a potential pick for attorney general or secretary of state in the Trump administration, Giuliani was eventually appointed to advise Trump informally on cyber-security issues and more recently joined Trump’ legal team advising on the investigation in alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 elections.[2]He quickly stirred up controversy with ill-advised statements on controversial “hush money” payments to cover up an affair Trump had; as well as on foreign policy, when he said that Trump supported regime change in Iran.

Post-9/11 Fearmongering

The former mayor has consistently used 9/11 as a rationale for promoting hawkish policies, including during his unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign, during which his foreign policy advisers included notable hawks and neoconservatives like Norman Podhoretzand Steven Rosen.[3]

Giuliani’s efforts to capitalize on his role in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks spurred then-Sen. Joe Biden to quip, “There’s only three things [Giuliani] mentions in a sentence—a noun, a verb, and 9/11. There’s nothing else!”[4]

He frequently uses scare tactics when discussing Islam. For instance, he called plans to build an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in Manhattan a “desecration.” Speaking to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, Giuliani exclaimed: Giuliani exclaimed, “It not only is exactly the wrong place, right at ground zero, but it’s a mosque supported by an imam who has a record of support for causes that were sympathetic with terrorism. Come on! We’re gonna allow that at ground zero? … This is a desecration. Nobody would allow something like that at Pearl Harbor…I mean, they died there because of Islamic extremist terrorism. They are our enemy, we can say that.”[5]

In his support for Trump, Giuliani has developed a reputation for ill-advised—and sometimes self-contradictory—comments. For example, he said that President Trump had asked him how to legally bring about a “Muslim ban.”

Speaking to Fox News, Giuliani said, “I’ll tell you the whole history of it: When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up, he said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’ And what we did was we focused on, instead of religion, danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible.”[6]

Trump’s Lawyer

In April 2018, Giuliani joined President Trump’s legal team. He told CNN that his task was to “push” the special counsel’s investigation toward a conclusion. He was brought on after the departure of John Dowd—reportedly due to frustration with Trump—and after numerous other large law firms and well-known lawyers spurned Trump’s requests to join his team. Giuliani took a leave of absence from his own law firm when he accepted the role on Trump’s team.[7]

Questions of conflict of interest for Giuliani immediately arose. A Politico report stated, “A lawyer for the Trump transition confirmed last December that Mueller’s prosecutors obtained access to the emails of at least 13 people working on the transition. There is no indication that Giuliani was among them, but the requests focused on personnel handling national security and policy issues, raising the possibility that Giuliani’s communications with Trump advisers could already be in Mueller’s possession.”[8]

Giuliani was hired by Trump despite the fact that he had been a superior in the U.S. Attorney’s Office to James B. Comey—the former head of the FBI who was fired by Trump, setting off the special counsel’s investigation. His potential conflicts of interest also touched on issues connected to indicted former National Security Adviser Michael Flynnand his connections to Turkey.[9]

Trump soon had reason to question his decision. In a conversation with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Giuliani stated that Trump had repaid his lawyer, Michael Cohen, for a payment made shortly before the 2016 election to an adult film star to buy her silence about an affair with Trump. The president had previously denied knowledge of the payment, and it raised serious questions about possible campaign finance improprieties.[10]

Several days later, Giuliani appeared at an event hosted by the Organization of Iranian-American Communities, a front group for the People’s Mujahedin of Iran(Mojahedin-e Khalq-e Iran, or MEK), a militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In that speech, Giuliani stated that President Trump is “as committed to regime change [in Iran] as we are.”[11]

Giuliani continued, “I truly believe that we will have one of these conventions in Tehran. … Protests are now all over Iran. 142 cities and growing. … We have a real chance of escalating these protests.”

Giuliani also said that regime change in Iran is “the only way to peace in the Middle East” and “more important than an Israeli-Palestinian deal.” He also took a piece of paper meant to symbolize the Iran nuclear deal and ripped it up, presaging Trump backing out of the deal only a few days later.[12]

In response to Giuliani’s controversial statements, several Trump spokespeople and Trump himself distanced the administration from his remarks. “He speaks for himself and not on behalf of the administration on foreign policy,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. White House spokeswomen Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, when asked if Giuliani’s responsibilities included foreign policy, “Not that I’m aware of.”

Trump said that Giuliani had just joined his team and was working to “get his facts straight.”[13]

Giuliani has been a frequent paid speaker at MEK events, dating back to at least 2011 and has spoken in defense of the controversial group on several occasions over the years.[14]

Defense of Turkish Man Who Broke Iran Sanctions

In March 2017, Giuliani joined the legal team of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish national who was accused of using his own gold business, fake documentation, and other phony businesses to facilitate transactions that were banned under the sanctions regime against Iran.[15]Zarrab tapping Giuliani was a surprise, given Giuliani’s strong support for President Donald Trump’s hard line against Iran.

Zarrab had been arrested a year earlier, and despite public statements distancing himself from Zarrab, Turkish President Recip Tayyap Erdogan—in addition to other Turkish contacts with U.S. officials—personally interceded with Vice President Joe Biden on Zarrab’s behalf. Raising more questions about Giuliani’s appointment was the discovery that he had travelled to Turkey the month before to meet with Erdogan about Zarrab’s case.[16]There was reportedly some discussion of increased Turkish help with U.S. goals in Syria if Zarrab were treated lightly, or even returned to Turkey.[17]

Prosecutors, unhappy with a plea deal turning into an international, diplomatic arrangement, called it “curious” and raised the question of conflict of interest, as Giuliani’s firm also represented banks that were “victimized” by Zarrab’s scheme. They also noted that Giuliani’s firm was a registered agent of Turkey. Giuliani, and fellow attorney, Michael Mukasey—who had served as U.S. district attorney under George W. Bush from 2007-2009—filed affidavits with the judge in the case, explaining that they were not in court to represent their client because they were working with Turkish officials to find a diplomatic solution.[18]

The judge in the case, Judge Richard Berman, reprimanded Giuliani and Mukasey. He stated, “Most respectfully, the Giuliani and Mukasey affidavits appear surprisingly disingenuous in failing to mention the central role of Iran in the indictment,” adding that the affidavits omitted any mention of Iran altogether.[19]Berman also demanded to see the contracts Giuliani and Mukasey had signed, to see who was paying them and what financial arrangements were involved.[20]

Zarrab eventually struck a plea bargain and began cooperating with prosecutors. He was a key witness against one of his co-defendants, who was convicted in January 2018.[21]In the end, no agreement with Turkey had been reached and relations between the United States and Turkey had soured in any case, due to the continuing U.S. arming of Kurdish groups in Syria.[22]

Zarrab was thought to have also agreed to cooperate with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller in his investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn’s non-disclosure of his dealings with Turkey led to his downfall, and it was noted that if Zarrab’s knowledge of discussions between U.S. and Turkish officials included anything he shared with Giuliani, he might waive attorney-client privilege and disclose information about such talks to Mueller.[23]

Giuliani’s Neoconservatism

The centrist views Giuliani had displayed as mayor of New York on some social issues led to Giuliani being labeled a GOP moderate. However, on matters of foreign policy, Giuliani has long espoused views similar to those of hardline nationalists and neoconservatives like John Boltonand David Wurmser.

Giuliani is close to the Israeli right, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Just after Donald Trump’s inauguration, when Giuliani was about to take a trip to Israel, he was asked if he would convey a message from Trump to Netanyahu. He replied, “If I do, it’ll be from him. But I can give the general message, which is ‘I like you very much and we’re very good friends.’ They were friends even before. This is not a new relationship, but now obviously it’s a much more important one.”[24]

Giuliani was very optimistic about Trump’s relationship with Israel and even more critical of Obama’s. Speaking to the Christian Broadcasting Network, he said, “I thought the last eight years was (sic) abnormal. We had an American president that didn’t support Israel in the way that I was used to [a] Republican and Democratic president supporting Israel—and that he would now have a president that he could get along with, that shared essentially the same views on the world. [It was] just like you had it noticed—that stark difference with extra homes being built in the settlements—2,500 extra homes—some couple of days ago. The reaction of the Obama administration, either from Hillary Clintonor John Kerry or Barack Obama – the condemnation of Israel, and instead the Trump administration’s response was no comment.”[25]

Giuliani’s comments on Middle East policy during the Obama administration have cemented his militarist reputation. In February 2012, for example, Giuliani called President Obama a “weakling” for supposedly failing to persuade Iran that the United States will “bomb the hell out of them” if Iran attempts to develop a nuclear weapon. “We are the largest military in the entire world, they are a small, tiny little military power compared to us,” Giuliani said.[26]

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York, Giuliani—then the city’s mayor—rejected a $10 million donation from Saudi Arabia, saying, in part, “[O]ne of the reasons I think this happened is because people were engaged in moral equivalency in not understanding the difference between liberal democracies like the United States, like Israel, and terrorist states and those who condone terrorism.”[27]

Like many neocon ideologues, Giuliani frames his hawkishness on the Middle East as a contest between radical Islamism and western civilization, leading to the criticism that Giuliani’s “simplistic message” is that terrorists attack Americans because they “oppose our freedom.”[28]

During the Iraq War, Giuliani linked the decision to invade Iraq with the 9/11 attacks, long after such links had been discredited. “They’re at war with us. They want to come here and kill us,” he told Fox’s Sean Hannity in 2007. “And they did on September 11, and they did a long time before September 11. Way back in 1993, they came to this city and killed people. So, we’ve got to put Iraq in the context of a much broader picture than just Iraq. And getting Iraq correctly, in other words, getting stability there is real important. And I support what the president asked for support to do.”[29]

Other Controversies

A Vanity Fair overview of the former mayor’s consulting firm, Giuliani Partners—which was set up in 2002 and proceeded to earn some $100 million in the ensuing six years—revealed that Giuliani had “brazenly built a business on his 9/11 fame.” Noting in particular the firm’s work to wind down a federal investigation of the prescription drug OxyContin (which has been responsible for a wave of addiction-related overdoses) and its dealings with a penny-stock firm connected to “an S.E.C.-disciplined stock swindler,” among many other cases, author Michael Shnayerson concluded, “In doing business with these companies, Giuliani has sometimes created at least an appearance of poor judgment, or greed, or both.”[30]

Especially controversial was Giuliani’s relationship with Bernard Kerik, a former driver for Giuliani’s mayoral campaign who was promoted to police commissioner during the mayor’s administration. By 2004, Giuliani and Kerik were jointly running Giuliani-Kerik, a security consulting firm, when the former mayor personally recommended to President Bush that Kerik be nominated to head the Department of Homeland Security. However, Kerik’s nomination promptly came to an end in the wake of a raft of allegations of impropriety ranging from extramarital affairs to tax fraud to public corruption. “If Kerik had landed the job,” wonders Shnayerson, “would he not have been in the perfect position, on behalf of the federal government, to buy lots of the very security products and services that Giuliani Partners had been nursing along and investing in?”[31]


[1]Willa Frej, “Rudy Giuliani Agrees With Donald Trump That Obama Founded ISIS,” Huffington Post, August 11, 2016,

[2]Kristin Salaky, “Giuliani To Advise Trump On ‘The Cyber,’” Talking Points Memo, January 12, 2 017,

[3]Michael C. Desch, “Declaring Forever War,” The American Conservative, January 14, 2008,

[4]Huffington Post, “Biden: Rudy’s Sentences Consist Of “A Noun, A Verb, And 9/11,” Mach 25, 2008,

[5]Maggie Haberman, “Rudy: GZ Mosque is a ‘desecration,’ ‘decent Muslims’ won’t be offended,” Politico, August 2, 2010,

[6]Rebecca Savransky, “Giuliani: Trump asked me how to do a Muslim ban ‘legally,’” The Hill, January 29, 2017,

[7]Pamela Brown, Dana Bash, and Sophie Tatum, “Giuliani says he is joining Trump’s legal team to help bring Mueller probe to a conclusion,” CNN, April 20, 2018,

[8]Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn, “Giuliani’s history raises legal questions as he takes on Trump defense,” Politico, April 21, 2018,

[9]Zachary Fryer-Biggs, “Rudy Giuliani is Trump’s new lawyer. His history with Comey could spell trouble,” Vox, April 20, 2018

[10]Sean Illing, “Did Rudy Giuliani just get Trump in legal trouble? I asked 11 legal experts,” Vox, May 3, 2018,

[11]Brent D. Griffiths, “Giuliani: Trump is ‘committed to’ regime change in Iran, Politico, May 5, 2018,

[12]Heshmat Alavi, “Iran exiles demand regime change as nuclear deadline looms,” Al-Araiya English, May 7, 2018,

[13]Josh Lederman, “State Dept.: Giuliani doesn’t speak for US on foreign policy,” Associated Press, May 7, 2018,

[14]Josh Rogin, “Giuliani was paid advocate for shady Iranian dissident group,” Washington Post, Nove 15, 2016,

[15]Benjamin Weiser and Maggie Haberman, “Turk in Iran Sanctions Case Adds Rudy Giuliani to Legal Team,” New York Times, March 27, 2017,

[16]Benjamin Weiser and Maggie Haberman, “Judge Seeks to Clarify Rudy Giuliani’s Role on Gold Trader’s Team,” New York Times, March 28, 2017,

[17]Benjamin Weiser and Patrick Kingsley, “Why Giuliani Held a Secret Meeting With Turkey’s Leader,” New York Times, Arpil 20, 2017,

[18]John Riley, “Giuliani discussed Iran sanctions case with Turkey’s president, feds say,” Newsday, March 31, 2017,

[19]Katie Zavadsky, “Judge Rips ‘Disingenuous’ Rudy Giuliani in Iran Sanctions Case,” Daily Beast, May 2, 2017,

[20]“A judge wants Rudy Giuliani to disclose who’s paying him in Iran sanctions case,” Associated Press, April 5, 2017,

[21]Nina Agrawal, “Banker in Iran sanctions trial found guilty,” Los Angeles Times, January 3, 2018,

[22]Katie Zavadski, “Crook Claims Rudy Giuliani and Michael Mukasey Tried to Broker U.S.-Turkey Prisoner Swap,” Daily Beast, November 29, 2017,

[23]Katie Zavadski, “Did the Feds Flip Turkish Businessman Reza Zarrab—and Could He Bring Down Michael Flynn?” Daily Beast, November 16, 2017,

[24]JTA, “Giuliani to Carry Message From Trump to Netanyahu: ‘I Like You,” Jerusalem Post, January 23, 2017,

[25]Chris Mitchell, “Giuliani: US-Israel Relationship ‘Back to Normal,’” Christian Broadcasting Network, February 6, 2017,

[26]David Taintor, “Giuliani: We Need a President Who Can Say ‘Bomb Iran,’” Talking Points Memo, February 24, 2012,

[27]“Giuliani rejects $10 million from Saudi prince,” CNN, October 12, 2001,

[28]Michael C. Desch, “Declaring Forever War,” The American Conservative, January 14, 2008,

[29], “He’s Ready! Rudy Giuliani Talks with Sean Hannity,” February 6, 2007,,2933,250497,00.html#ixzz1oJMpzLaY.

[30]Michael Shnayerson, “A Tale of Two Giulianis,” Vanity Fair, January 2008,

[31]Michael Shnayerson, “A Tale of Two Giulianis,” Vanity Fair, January 2008,


  • 2008 GOP Presidential Candidate
  • Former Iraq Study Group Member


  • Trump administration legal team (2018- )
  • New York City Mayor (1994-2001)
  • U.S. Attorney (1983-1989)
  • Associate Attorney General (1981-1983)


  • Giuliani Partners: Founder
  • Greenberg Trairig: Global chair, cybersecurity and crisis management
  • Bracewell & Giuliani: Principal
  • Giuliani-Kerik: Former principal


  • New York University, JD
  • Manhattan College, BA


[1] Huffington Post, “Biden: Rudy’s Sentences Consist Of “A Noun, A Verb, And 9/11,” Mach 25, 2008,

[2] Michael C. Desch, “Declaring Forever War,” The American Conservative, January 14, 2008,

[3] Elias Groll, “Rudy Giuliani Loves America, Except When He’s Consulting for Qatar,” Foreign Policy, February 23, 2015,

[4] Jack Davis, “Giuliani Just Revealed EXACTLY What ISIS Is In 5 Words Obama Won’t Want You To Hear,” Western Journalism, November 19, 2015,

[5] YourNewsWire, “Rudy Giuliani – U.S. Needs To Be A Police State After Paris Attacks,” January 10, 2015,

[6] David Taintor, “Giuliani: We Need a President Who Can Say ‘Bomb Iran,’” Talking Points Memo, February 24, 2012,

[7] Rich Schapiro, “Rudy Giuliani knocks Iran nuclear deal during homeland security hearing at Ground Zero, Daily News, September 8, 2015,

[8] Brian Montopoli, “Rudy Giuliani Denies Supporting Terrorist Organization,” CBS News, January 10, 2011,

[9] Algemeiner, “Livid Guiliani Contrasts Obama With Netanyahu: ‘That’s a Man Who Fights for His People, Unlike Our President,” February 17, 2015,

[10] NBC New York, “Rudy Guiliani: There was ‘Some Celebrating’ in NYC after 9/11,”

[11] Michael C. Desch, “Declaring Forever War,” The American Conservative, January 14, 2008,

[12] Michael C. Desch, “Declaring Forever War,” The American Conservative, January 14, 2008,

[13] Haaretz, “Israeli panel: Giuliani is ‘best’ presidential candidate for Israel,” May 9, 2006,

[14], “He’s Ready! Rudy Giuliani Talks with Sean Hannity,” February 6, 2007,,2933,250497,00.html#ixzz1oJMpzLaY.

[15] Marc Santora, “Giuliani Says Nation at War Requires Him,” New York Times, April 7, 2007,

[16] Fred Kaplain, “The Man Who Knows Too Little,” Slate, June 21, 2007,

[17] Michael Shnayerson, “A Tale of Two Giulianis,” Vanity Fair, January 2008,

[18] Michael Shnayerson, “A Tale of Two Giulianis,” Vanity Fair, January 2008,

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