Shaye Moss, a Georgia election worker, described on national television on Tuesday the smear campaign that Rudy Giuliani waged against her and her mother. Mr. Giuliani, speaking to Georgia legislators weeks after the 2020 presidential vote, had accused the two women of engaging in “surreptitious, illegal behavior” while working the polls on election night and conjured a racist image of them “passing around USB ports as if they are vials of heroin or cocaine.” The fabricated allegations, based on a cynical misrepresentation of a video, were designed to persuade Georgia officials to overturn the election results in their state, and they triggered an avalanche of harassment and death threats against the women.
How did America’s mayor get to this low point? Mr. Giuliani’s rise to power in New York was often marked by venality, but nothing from his mayoral or prosecutorial years resembles his near-complete moral collapse under Donald Trump. They have been a pernicious team, and the strength of their bond — and how it ultimately drove the attempted subversion of the 2020 election — is rooted in Mr. Trump’s veneration of a bygone champion and Mr. Giuliani’s almost primal need to remain relevant.
On election night, Mr. Giuliani was the only one of Mr. Trump’s advisers pushing him to declare victory early, even though Mr. Trump was behind in the count, with millions of ballots outstanding. Jason Miller, a Trump adviser, said in video testimony released on June 13 that Mr. Giuliani appeared inebriated when he pushed this dubious strategy, bringing his mountain of personal problems to a defining moment in history. (Mr. Giuliani has denied that he was intoxicated on election night and has previously denied that he has a drinking problem. A spokesman for Mr. Giuliani declined to comment for this essay.)
Mr. Trump, never known for his loyalty to aides, has stood by Mr. Giuliani for years and through many embarrassments, including a raft of bungled television appearances, a compromising scene in a “Borat” film, a nationally televised news conference held in a parking lot of a landscaping company and another in which what appeared to be hair dye streamed down his cheeks. “Rudy was there when a lot of you guys weren’t,” the former president would snap at staff members.
Mr. Trump rarely gushes about anyone besides himself, but there is something about Rudy Giuliani that has always made him swoon. “Some people don’t like him and some people love him totally,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Giuliani on “Larry King Live” on Oct. 7, 1999. “I happen to be in love.” As president, Mr. Trump often spoke about him with a deference that virtually no other aide received. Mr. Giuliani as mayor was a role model for Mr. Trump; his raw exercise of power, his use of bombast as a weapon and his relentless attacks on his critics and the media all made a huge impression. His style influenced Mr. Trump’s approach to the presidency “more so probably than any other political figure,” Mr. Miller, the Trump adviser, told me over the course of reporting for a new biography of Mr. Giuliani. [Continue reading…]