National News

Giuliani Promised a Surprise Before the Election. Comey Delivered One.

Once, in his days as New York’s chief federal prosecutor and later as the city’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani was a master of releasing damaging leaks aimed at the kneecaps of opponents. Sometimes, they were true.

Posted Updated

Jim Dwyer
, New York Times

Once, in his days as New York’s chief federal prosecutor and later as the city’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani was a master of releasing damaging leaks aimed at the kneecaps of opponents. Sometimes, they were true.

Now Giuliani works the other end of the information slurry, and he has had a hard time keeping his stories straight, one day boasting of his inside sources, then denying that they exist.

At a Senate hearing this week in Washington, Democrats took turns at the microphone to ask about the furies that — depending on which version of Giuliani you believe — ran from the FBI office in New York to Giuliani during the closing weeks of the 2016 presidential election.

One Democratic senator asked the FBI director, Christopher Wray, if the pipeline was still running.

“Can you assure the American people there are no ongoing leaks from any office of the FBI to Rudolph Giuliani?” Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut asked.

“Senator, I’m certainly not aware of any,” Wray replied.

Last week, the Justice Department released a 500-page report on the FBI’s work in its 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Most humans would think that 500 pages ought to cover the subject handily, but this report barely touches on the subject of law enforcement information being dished out to the likes of Giuliani, who then weaponized it. Another report on leaks is apparently still underway. Giuliani is not mentioned in the first report, but he has said on television that he was interviewed.

According to the report, witnesses told the inspector general that a fear of leaks from within the FBI drove the agency’s former director, James Comey, to break with established policy against opening or discussing investigations in the run-up to an election. Two weeks before the 2016 election, Comey disclosed that the FBI discovered a laptop that had not been examined in the original investigation of Clinton’s emails.

In speaking with the inspector general’s office, Comey maintained that the threat of leaks was not a factor in his decision, but few of those involved saw it that way, according to the report.

The former attorney general, Loretta Lynch, told investigators that Comey “said, ‘It’s clear to me that there is a cadre of senior people in New York who have a deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton.’ And he said, ‘It is deep.'”

Comey said he found it “stunning,” Lynch told the investigators. She replied to him: “I’m just troubled that this issue — meaning the, the New York agent issue and leaks — I am just troubled that this issue has put us where we are today with respect to this laptop.”

The self-proclaimed tribune of that FBI antipathy was Giuliani, now a lawyer for President Donald Trump.

On Oct. 25, 2016, three days before Comey’s stunning announcement, Giuliani appeared on a Fox morning television show.

“We got a couple of surprises left,” Giuliani said.

He chortled, and when asked to expand on the subject, replied, “And I think it’ll be enormously effective.”

On Thursday, Oct. 27, Giuliani appeared on another Fox show and said he was talking about “pretty big surprises.” He added, “We’ve got a couple of things up our sleeve that should turn this thing around.”

The news of the reactivated email inspection arrived the following day and may have helped propel Trump closer to the presidency.

Upon inspection by the FBI, the emails on the laptop turned out to be much ado about hardly anything — many of them had already been reviewed, and the authorities decided they did not warrant changing the conclusion that Clinton’s use of the server should not be prosecuted.

In interviews this week, including on Fox, Giuliani said the “surprise” he was talking about in 2016 had nothing to do with the email investigation, but was a speech Trump was going to give right before the election blasting Clinton.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone, Giuliani included, would have classified a Trump campaign speech as a “pretty big surprise.”

On the day of Comey’s announcement in 2016, Giuliani was so pleased that he blurted out a description of his sources for inside information on the email case.

“The other rumor that I get is that there’s a kind of revolution going on inside the FBI about the original conclusion being completely unjustified, and almost a slap in the face of the FBI’s integrity,” Giuliani said in a radio interview with Lars Larson, the conservative talk show host.

“I know that from former agents. I know that even from” — Giuliani paused, then continued — “a few active agents who obviously don’t want to identify themselves.”

The following day, Giuliani fixed up his remarks, editing out the line about “active agents” when he spoke with Wolf Blitzer on CNN.

And now Giuliani is telling a new version. All his predictions were just speculation by retired agents, he said on Fox Business recently.

“We knew just by instinct,” he said, “that the New York office was enraged.”

Copyright 2024 New York Times News Service. All rights reserved.