Rudy Giuliani may have spent the last several years giving off the impression that he is extremely drunk at all times (see: confusing Four Seasons Total Landscaping with the Four Seasons, shaving in the middle of a restaurant, and sweating out hair dye on live TV). But by numerous accounts, he actually was quite intoxicated on election night 2020. Why are we bringing this up now? Because the former mayor’s alleged inebriation—and what Donald Trump knew about it—may play a key role in the ex-president’s federal trial on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 election results.
Rolling Stone reports that investigators working for Special Counsel Jack Smith have “repeatedly grilled” witnesses about Giuliani’s drinking on and after Election Day, how drunk he allegedly was when he was giving the then president advice on how to stay in power, and what Trump’s awareness was of his attorney’s sobriety or lack thereof. Among other things, Smith’s team has reportedly asked witnesses “if Trump had ever gossiped with them about Giuliani’s drinking habits, and if Trump had ever claimed Giuliani’s drinking impacted his decision-making or judgment.” They’ve also reportedly inquired “about whether the then president was warned, including after election night 2020, about Giuliani’s allegedly excessive drinking,” or if Trump was told that Giuliani was giving him “post-election legal and strategic advice while inebriated.”
Obviously, being tipsy or even shit-faced is not necessarily a crime—and the Feds are not actually interested in Giuliani’s drinking in and of itself. Rather, as attorneys and witnesses familiar with the matter told Rolling Stone, “Smith and his team are interested in this subject because it could help demonstrate that Trump was implementing the counsel of somebody he knew to be under the influence and perhaps not thinking clearly. If that were the case, it could add to federal prosecutors’ argument that Trump behaved with willful recklessness in his attempts nullify the 2020 election.” Given that Trump’s current legal team reportedly plans to argue that Trump had just been taking his lawyers’ advice after the election, evidence that he knew Giuliani was three sheets to the wind would likely undermine such an argument.
“In order to rely upon an ‘advice of counsel’ defense, the defendant has to, number one, have made full disclosure of all material facts to the attorney,” Mitchell Epner, a former assistant United States attorney, told Rolling Stone. “That requires that the attorney understands what’s being told to them. If you know that your attorney is drunk, that does not count as making full disclosure of all material facts.”
As for the question of whether or not Giuliani was, in fact, drunk on election night and the days that followed, the answer seems to depend on who you ask: Rudy Giuliani or anyone else. The former mayor has denied advising Trump while drunk, insisting in since-deleted tweets last year that he “REFUSED all alcohol” on election night and that his “favorite drink [is] Diet Pepsi,” and in a statement, Ted Goodman, a political adviser advisers to Giuliani, said: "One should always question a story that is completely reliant on anonymous sources. This false narrative by nameless sources has been contradicted by on-the-record witnesses." Yet advisers to Trump told the January 6 committee that the ex-mayor was indeed plastered, with one saying Giuliani was “definitely intoxicated” while talking to Trump on the evening of November 3, 2020.
In addition to that testimony, Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker wrote in their book I Alone Can Fix It that observers believed Giuliani had had too much to drink on election night, while author Michael Wolff told MSNBC of the evening: “Rudy was incredibly drunk, weaving this way and that way…. Trump’s aides were obviously, or rightly, concerned about what Giuliani was saying to the president about the election and giving him misinformation, but they were also concerned that he was going to break [priceless artifacts]” in the White House’s China Room.
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