President Donald Trump's administration has sought to distance itself from Rudy Giuliani, who, as the newest member of the president's legal team, has made often dramatic and contradictory statements which appear to have only worsened public opinion of an already highly contentious leadership as the special counsel's investigation into Russian meddling rages on.
The State Department called out Giuliani's statements on Iran and North Korea, saying he doesn't speak for the Trump administration on foreign policy. Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, has often confused both Washington insiders and the public alike over whether he's simply disclosed information he's been told by the president, stating government policy, or giving his own interpretation of events as they unfold.
"He speaks for himself and not on behalf of the administration on foreign policy," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said yesterday.
Giuliani spurred concerns starting last week when he told Fox News that North Korea would release three Americans detained in the country.
"We got Kim Jong Un impressed enough to be releasing three prisoners today," Giuliani said at the time.
Although the president has hinted that American diplomats could attain the release of the prisoners in the future, the U.S. government has not made a formal announcement, and the detainees have not yet been released as predicted by Giuliani. Giuliani's statements raised ire in Washington amid fears that he was jeopardizing the government's highly sensitive talks with the North Korean government to plan a historic summit between Kim Jong Un and Trump.
Giuliani also courted controversy over the weekend when he spoke to a group that supports the overthrow of Iran's government and said that the president was "committed" to regime change in Iran. Trump is highly critical of Iran, and has sought to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal, but neither he nor his administration has ever called for overthrowing the Iranian government.
According to Ned Price, a former spokesman for the White House National Security Council in the Obama administration, Giuliani's statements raise the risk of undermining the U.S.'s relationship with world leaders.
"You have foreign governments reading the tea leaves based on what people like Giuliani are saying," Price said. Of Giuliani's statements on North Korea, he added: "Not only does it put their families in this absolutely painful position, but in the worst event it could actually be counterproductive if the North Koreans think we're spiking the football."
Giuliani's behavior has proven a proverbial thorn in the side of an already embattled president who has tried––and failed––to rein in both Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling and accounts over the $130,000 payment to adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels. The president has said Giuliani didn't "have his facts straight" on that front.
A Politico report reveals that the president has voiced his displeasure with Giuliani to White House aides:
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 "pushed back against the notion that the president is unhappy with his performance" in a phone interview with the news outlet yesterday.
“If I'm not up to it, I don't know who is," he said. “I know the Justice Department better than just about anyone."
Prominent political voices have also taken to social media to weigh in on Giuliani's performance.
Trump was hoping he could replace Sessions w/Giuliani — finally finding “my Roy Cohn." Instead Giuliani has been him in more legal jeopardy.
But what probably angers Trump more: Giuliani is incoherent, erratic, ugly on TV, while Michael Avenatti is smart, smooth, attractive.
— Mike Signorile (@MSignorile) May 8, 2018
Trump has grown agitated by replays of Giuliani's interview with Hannity.
Trump snapped at both men, chiding Hannity for using the word "funneled" when describing how money was sent to Cohen, which Trump believes has illegal connotations, sources tell AP.https://t.co/yAcqllEd3Q
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 8, 2018
Dear @realDonaldTrump: I'm feeling charitable today, so I'm going to do you a favor by giving you the following number. Call 1 800 773 0888. That's the toll free number for LegalZoom. Any attorney there can do a better job for you than Rudy Giuliani. https://t.co/ddhTyvvnuq
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) May 6, 2018
"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." https://t.co/kxaEaLAkbh
— Evan Rosenfeld (@Evan_Rosenfeld) May 8, 2018
Trump, Giuliani had to try and "get out in front" of the Stormy Daniels story because "they know what's coming next"
"Michael Cohen is going to flip on this President as I predicted weeks ago" - @MichaelAvenatti pic.twitter.com/Ym3qTF3HM0
— TheBeat w/Ari Melber (@TheBeatWithAri) May 7, 2018
Giuliani's public statements prompted MSNBC host Joe Scarborough to suggest that the reason why the president didn't add him to his legal team sooner was that Giuliani was “drinking too much."
“Everybody around Donald Trump said he was drinking too much — Donald Trump suggested as much — that was two years ago," Scarborough said.
Scarborough then criticized the president for hiring Giuliani anyway.
“It's not 3-D chess. That's not even checkers. That's a monkey throwing poo against the wall, and it doesn't usually turn out well," Scarborough said.