Prosecutors probe whether Giuliani was drunk when advising Trump. Does it even matter?

The New York Times and other outlets are reporting that federal prosecutors are taking a very close look at Rudy Giuliani's alleged drinking problems as they seek to prosecute Donald Trump for his illegal acts to nullify his 2020 presidential election loss. From the Times:

The office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, has questioned witnesses about Mr. Giuliani’s alcohol consumption as he was advising Mr. Trump, including on election night, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Smith’s investigators have also asked about Mr. Trump’s level of awareness of his lawyer’s drinking as they worked to overturn the election and prevent Joseph R. Biden Jr. from being certified as the 2020 winner at almost any cost.

Whether Giuliani was notably, speech-slurringly drunk during the times he was offering advice to Trump on how to contest the election's outcome may go a long way in scrubbing out Trump's claims that he was only acting on the advice of counsel when he undertook those illegal acts. If Trump was aware that his alleged lawyer was Barney Gumble drunk during the conversations where Rudy was pushing bizarre election conspiracy theories and offering, the pair now claims, attorney-client advice on how to pursue them, then Trump could hardly claim he was a naive victim blindly following that advice. It would show that Trump ought to have understood from the beginning that he was listening to the ramblings of an impaired man.

Personally, I'm not seeing it. Trump had been using Giuliani to source and publicize a mountain of utterly crackpot conspiracy theories throughout the election. It was evident even by 2019 that Giuliani's claims ranged from sloppy factual blunders to obvious disinformation attempts to full-on fictions. After the Robert Mueller-led probe of Russian election interference concluded in 2019, Giuliani began insisting that the election had actually been interfered with by "Hillary [Clinton], [John] Kerry and Biden people colluding with Ukrainian operatives."

Campaign Action

One of the most bizarre of all Giuliani-pushed conspiracy claims was that Ukraine was actually the nation behind the hacks of Democratic National Committee servers, and that Russia had been framed by Ukrainian or American officials. Giuliani believed a Democratic National Committee server had been spirited to and hidden somewhere in Ukraine by the DNC themselves, their cybersecurity firm, or someone else.

Not only did Trump willingly believe it, he believed it enough to ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate "the server" during the extortion-laden call that resulted in Trump's first impeachment.

Whether or not Rudy Giuliani was or wasn't sloshed enough to be an explosion hazard during this time seems hardly relevant; the man was transparently out of his gourd. He was spouting incoherent, looneytoons fictions long, long before election night, and not only was the national press awash with explanations of just how nonsensical and fraudulent Giuliani's claims were, Trump suffered through an actual bonafide impeachment as a direct result of believing Giuliani's delusional crap.

That would seem to suggest that Trump had every possible opportunity to realize Giuliani was giving him advice that was snow-globe-brain, television-static bonkers long before Giuliani was offering up advice on how to overturn an American election. Yes, it's possible that Giuliani was drunk the whole time; at best, that might show that a sober Trump is still stupider than a stumble-drunk Rudy.

Most of the Times story centers on the apparently widespread knowledge among Giuliani's peers and allies that he has had a devastating drinking problem for "more than a decade." "His consistent, conspicuous intoxication often startled his company," we are told a few years too late to do anyone any good, with "almost anyone in proximity" realizing that his drinking "has been the pulsing drumbeat punctuating his descent." But even then, half the article is devoted to how supposedly grand Giuliani was in his 9/11-punctuated heyday. It appears we will never be free of the hagiographies that have always brushed aside Giuliani's many past scandals in favor of a generic supposed heroism.

As for whether Giuliani was visibly and odiously drunk when he advised Trump to contest the election based on no evidence at all, though, it does appear to be true. The Times, again:

In interviews and in testimony to Congress, several people at the White House on election night — the evening when Mr. Giuliani urged Mr. Trump to declare victory despite the results — have said that the former mayor appeared to be drunk, slurring and carrying an odor of alcohol.

So there you go. It still seems to me that it hardly matters: Was it Drunk Rudy who called a vital press conference at the concrete driveway of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, or Sober Rudy? Was it Drunk Rudy who mistook some unknown substance for hair dye before rushing out to the press for a different press conference, or Sober Rudy?

I don't think we need to hold a match in front of his mouth to judge whether or not the man's judgment has been impaired these past few years. Trump may claim that he only did criminal things because his lawyers told him to, but it doesn't hold up when Trump chose those lawyers specifically because his White House legal team, Department of Justice legal team, and everyone else with common sense weren't willing to go along with plainly criminal acts like "seize the voting machines," "have Mike Pence declare you the winner by fiat," and "impose martial law."


There is no laptop: Hunter Biden sues Rudy Giuliani

New book alleges Trump's ex-chief of staff's suits smelled 'like a bonfire' from burning papers

Lawyers indicted with Trump say they were doing their jobs. But that may be a tough argument to make

Co-conspirator 5’s memos show that Jan. 6 was a planned coup

On the heels of the public exposure of a memo from lawyer Kenneth Chesebro proposing what would become the central strategy of Donald Trump's attempted coup on Jan. 6, 2021, Politico has a new overview of Chesebro's role in the conspiracy that's worth a read.

Chesebro only made it to Co-Conspirator 5 status in Trump's newest federal indictment, overshadowed by figures such as hoax architect Rudy Giuliani and lawyer John Eastman, but in memos it was Chesebro who laid out each of the core elements of the plan for then-Vice President Mike Pence and Congress to simply nullify the election's results come Jan. 6. Eastman appears to have been the one who packaged it all up for sale to Trump and the rest of the White House team.

In the Dec. 6 Chesebro memo revealed Wednesday, he proposes a plan to create fake, uncertified electoral slates in multiple Joe Biden-won states that would then be passed to Pence, who would announce them as the "true" electors using an allegedly unilateral constitutional power that allows the vice president to count up the electoral votes literally however he or she wants. That version of the plan was the one the co-conspirators and conspiring Republican members of the House and Senate worked towards, creating the fake electoral slates. It was Sen. Ron Johnson who appears to have been the volunteer who would smuggle the fake electors to Pence on the day of the vote.

Pence foiled the scheme by refusing to be a part of it even though Trump and Trump's team had pressured him intensely. He was retaliated against on Jan. 6 when Trump singled out Pence as his enemy even as violent pro-Trump insurrectionists hunted for targets in the halls of the Capitol.

But Chesebro had alternative plans as well. All of them hinged on the conservative Supreme Court being sufficiently crooked enough to come up with a legal facade for ignoring the certified electoral slates of multiple states purely on Republican say-so. Or at least for the court to put a pause on the electoral counting that would, in the eyes of the public, help justify other extreme actions to overturn the results.

A week after the Dec. 6 memo proposing the original plan of Pence unilaterally altering the counts himself, Chesebro had already brainstormed a fallback position that would have the same effects.

On Jan. 6, Chesebro said, Pence would announce his recusal from presiding over the joint session of Congress, citing the unconstitutionality of the Electoral Count Act as well as a conflict of interest because of his candidacy for reelection. This, Chesebro contended, would “insulate” Pence from charges of making a self-serving decision and leave the matter ostensibly in the hands of a senior Republican senator. Then, after beginning to count electoral votes from an alphabetical list of states, that senator would refuse to count the votes from Arizona, citing the competing slates of electors. If Arizona wants to be counted, this senator would say, it would either have to “rerun” its election or allow for more judicial review of the outcome.

It's important to acknowledge here that this plan, too, was absolutely batshit crazy. The plans concocted by Trump's alleged "legal" team all hinged on a supposed ability for a vice president or temporary acting Senate president to simply declare that they weren't going to count the votes of states that the Republican candidate didn't win because fuck you, that's why. This was in accordance with the theory that power is unilaterally invested in the vote-counter and there is not a damn thing anyone else in the entire country can do about it.

Campaign Action

This was entirely batshit crazy for a whole host of reasons, and perhaps especially for the complete indifference shown towards what 330 million people might think—or do—when they learned that their entire constitutional democracy was a fiction. Chesebro himself continued to recognize that his plan was so destructive and batshit crazy that the Supreme Court could very well not go along with it. Again, this is a plan that would end with Chesebro and the others facing a firing squad at pretty much any other point of history or in any other country. At some point even the Supreme Court would have to decide whether this was a stunt worthy of forcing the most powerful military on the planet into choosing sides.

But Chesebro still held out hope that the resulting batshit chaos would somehow result in a miracle occurring. Perhaps the election would be thrown out, making House Speaker Nancy Pelosi the acting president. Or perhaps not. Spin the wheel and take your chances, America. The rancid sacks of shit proposing this plan were willing to risk everything for the slightest chance to erase an election.

But another outcome, he said — one that appears even more far-fetched in hindsight — might play out: Trump could quit the race in exchange for a negotiated deal to make Pence president.

“In this situation,” Chesebro wrote, “which would be messy and unpalatable to many … it doesn’t seem fanciful to think Trump and Pence would end up winning the vote after some legislatures appoint electors, or else that there might be a negotiated solution in which the Senate elects Pence vice president and Trump agrees to drop his bid … so that Biden and Harris are defeated, even though Trump isn’t re-elected.”

First off, fuck this dude sincerely for his willingness to throw all of democracy against a wall in the off chance that the debris would make a pretty pattern that he, personally, might like. But the notion that Donald Trump would "quit the race" in a ploy to make Pence president may be more delusional than the plan to assert dictatorial Pence powers. Trump has never done anything in his life unless it would benefit Trump. Just how were Giuliani, Eastman, and the other seditionists going to convince Trump to drop his claims of winning the election so that Pence could sit behind his desk? Were they going to offer him Alaska? Delaware? Agree to convert our newest aircraft carrier to a floating Trump-branded result?

And no matter how many Trump lawsuits fell because each of them were based on craptacular hoaxes that fell apart upon even the most cursory examination—which has landed multiple lawyers in Trump's orbit in deep professional trouble, and that is putting it mildly—Chesebro and Eastman and the others just kept pressing forward. As the House select committee that investigated the coup discovered, Justice Clarence Thomas was widely seen as the coup's most likely Supreme Court ally. As Trump pressured Pence, the coup's architects hunted for cases that might give Thomas the means to at least temporarily block a state's results from being counted.

“Possibly Thomas would end up being the key here — circuit justice, right? We want to frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue some sort of stay or other circuit justice opinion saying Georgia is in legitimate doubt,” Chesebro wrote. “Realistically, our only chance to get a favorable judicial opinion by Jan. 6, which might hold up the Georgia count in Congress, is from Thomas — do you agree, Prof. Eastman?”

This was just one week before Jan. 6, after courtrooms across the country had thrown out the team's farcical "evidence" of fraud over and over again, leaving the seditionists with no remaining legal fig leaves that would justify their plan. But when not even Thomas gave them the justification they sought, the plan didn't change.

Trump and his allies even scheduled a "march" on the Capitol to coincide with the counting of electoral votes, another means of potentially delaying the vote or creating enough chaos to justify throwing out or "redoing" the election's results.

The reason Trump stood by as the violent mob attacked police and ransacked the building is self-evident: This was the delay the team had been trying to make happen. Trump and the coup planners indeed used the delay caused by the evacuation of Congress to again work the phones, pressuring individual lawmakers to go along with the plan.

What the Chesebro and Eastman memos have spelled out, much too plainly, is that from at least Dec. 6 the plan was to nullify Trump's presidential election loss through Republican fiat, either through Pence or through other House and Senate accomplices, and the co-conspirators all recognized that a likely result of their plan would be massive public unrest and almost certain violence. And they did not care. At all! The "plan" was for Trump to declare that the Insurrection Act allowed him to put down public protests by military force, and he was to give those orders, and the coup planners were willing to spin the wheel on what would happen after that as well.

There was seemingly no jumping-off point where Trump's team of true believers proved unwilling to risk mass violence, military violence, or a new civil war on the vaporous chance that they could erase a Republican election loss. The memos are banal in tone: Things might get "messy" after their "bold" strategies were employed, but oh-fucking-well, those were simply the risks of overturning a democratic election and installing a Republican winner regardless.

It was seditionist from the start. The plan was never to prove actual fraud in any state, it was to unilaterally declare "fraud" and announce that the results were invalid because Pence said so. The Supreme Court would hopefully declare the moves "nonjusticiable" because it was Congress doing them, after which the only remaining concerns would be enforcing order as the public objected.

These ratbastards and their allied Republicans intended a coup from the beginning. It was a stupid plan, mind you. It was premised on a great deal of wishful thinking, and with never a thought to what would happen if Trump called up the military and some member of the military dropped a missile onto the White House in response, but it was a coup by design.

It's hard to imagine what justice can even be meted out here against a team of conspirators whose communications show complete indifference to the damage caused by their schemes.

Conservatives cried about how the “woke” (whatever that means) “Barbie” movie would fail. It didn’t. In fact, the film has struck a chord with American and international audiences. Daily Kos writer Laura Clawson joins Markos to talk about the film and the implications of the Republican Party’s fixation on mythical culture wars, which is failing them in bigger and bigger ways every day.


Newly uncovered memo describes Trump coup plan in detail, one month before it was attempted

What was in Trump's Twitter account that Jack Smith wanted to see?

Media pretends planned impeachment of Biden has some basis in facts

Team Trump wants a jury as diverse as a Trump rally

Donald Trump is trying to make federal criminal charges go away the same way he’s dealt with every other difficult thing in his life: through an aggressive media campaign coupled with delay and denial. And, being Trump, he has surrounded himself with lawyers who are happy to go along with it, even though blustery media appearances are not typically the best way to defend a client against federal criminal charges.

The judge and prosecutors are unlikely to be impressed by this approach, but when you consider the media response it’s getting, it’s not hard to see why Trump likes it so much. Take this truly shameful moment on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. Trump and his lawyers are waging a campaign to, depending how you look at it, get Trump’s trial moved from Washington, D.C., to West Virginia, or simply convince a lot of people that Trump’s trial was unfair because it wasn’t moved out of Washington, the place where he committed his crimes. That led to this exchange: 

MAJOR GARRETT: Are you still going to pursue a change of venue?

JOHN LAURO: Absolutely. We—we would like a diverse venue, a diverse jury. One that—that reflects the—

MAJOR GARRETT: Do you have any expectation that will be granted?

JOHN LAURO: That reflects the—the—the—the characteristics of the American people.

It's up to the judge. I think West Virginia would be an excellent venue to try this case.

MAJOR GARRETT: Speaking of the judge—

JOHN LAURO: They're close to D.C. and a much more diverse—

MAJOR GARRETT: Understood.

West Virginia is “much more diverse” than the District of Columbia, Lauro claimed, and Garrett’s response was simply “understood.” Well, Garrett may well understand, but his viewers don’t necessarily. This is a claim that requires some pushback and clarification. Partisanship is the one measure Trump and his lawyers care about here: West Virginia is heavily Republican, but it’s somewhat less heavily Republican than the District of Columbia is Democratic. That’s it. At the same time, West Virginia is extremely white, with much lower percentages of Black, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian people than the United States as a whole. Trump and his lawyers are using “reflects the characteristics of the American people” and “more diverse” to mean “more Republicans and, related, also more white people,” and Garrett has absolutely nothing to say about that.

Campaign Action

When Trump himself argued on Truth Social last week for a move to West Virginia, he didn’t bother with this “more diverse” nonsense, admitting that the issue was all about the partisan breakdown of the location. West Virginia was “impartial” and “politically unbiased,” he claimed, while it was “IMPOSSIBLE to get a fair trial in Washington, D.C., which is over 95% anti-Trump, & for which I have called for a Federal TAKEOVER in order to bring our Capital back to Greatness.” When he returned to the subject during his weekend of Truth Social ranting, it seems someone had gotten through to him that he couldn’t admit he just wanted a location with fewer Democrats, because he leaned more heavily on his claim that he was just too unpopular in the District due to his call for a federal takeover—a call he’s actively promoting as a strategy to argue for a venue change.

For the record, the U.S. Constitution has this to say about where crimes should be tried:

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

Speaking of the Constitution, Lauro also continued trying to push the claim that Trump wasn’t committing crimes, he was merely exercising his free speech when he tried to overturn the 2020 election—another claim the media has treated far too credulously. On “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd did a slightly better job pushing back against Lauro’s most ridiculous claims than Garrett on “Face the Nation,” with Todd repeatedly noting that the crimes Trump is being charged with are different than the many ways he legally exercised his right to free speech and took his election theft claims to court—where he lost again and again.

Todd and Lauro also had this exchange for the ages:


[Pence] said the president asked him to violate the Constitution. He said the president asked him to violate the Constitution, which is another way of saying he asked him to break the law.


He never said, he never said—no, that's wrong. That's wrong. A—a technical violation of the Constitution is not a violation of criminal law. That's just plain wrong. And to say that is contrary to decades of legal statutes.

A “technical violation of the Constitution,” the man said.

Trump and his lawyers want to try this case in the media for good reason. His rabid fans will buy every word of it and it will at least give less-committed Republicans something to work with in justifying their continuing support of him. And every reporter and interviewer who lets Lauro make these claims without robust and fully informed pushback is aiding Trump’s defense in the public eye if not in the courts.