The Rudy Report

After the Mueller Report, we were supposed to get the Rudy Report.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump's attorney, promised that he would release a document rebutting the results of Mueller's investigation. The Wall Street Journal talked to Giuliani about it on April 14:

Lawyers for Mr. Trump have for months been preparing a counter-report. It is now 140 pages long, but lawyers want to whittle it down to about 50, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in an interview.

Mr. Giuliani said Mr. Trump’s lawyers expect the bulk of their report to focus on the topic of obstruction of justice...

Vanity Fair said that the counter-report was "set to drop alongside Mueller's findings" and would include "Republicans' theory that the investigation was tainted from the start by anti-Trump bias at the F.B.I." Giuliani had been working on the report for "nearly a year."

On April 17, Giuliani told Fox News "that a counter-report is in the works, and that the team is putting the finishing touches on it" and "it would be dozens of pages long."

The next day, Bill Barr released the Mueller report to the public. But Giuliani still hasn't released anything.

Where is it?

How the game is played

Giuliani didn't need to release the report himself because he was able to place the information on the front page of the New York Times. How does this work?

The New York Times wants scoops about what's going on in the White House. Who is someone who knows what is going on in the White House? Rudy Giuliani. So New York Times reporters stay in regular touch with him.

Most of the time, Giuliani is just settling internal scores. Perhaps he has gossip on the FBI. This is the stuff of Pulitzers.

But Giuliani also knows the information he has is valuable. He's not just going to give it away to the New York Times for nothing. And now he's published the Rudy Report in the paper of record.

The report includes stories about Joe Biden, Democratic spying, and collaboration between the DNC and a foreign government. (The latter accusation had to be farmed out to a different publication.)

The New York Times could have refused Giuliani's scoops. But Giuliani would just go to the Washington Post, or the AP, or whatever reporters are willing to play the game. And the next time he had a juicy story, he'd call someone else.

What do you know about Joe

This isn't speculation. Giuliani's role in placing a May 1 story about Joe Biden and his son Hunter is printed in the New York Times itself.

First, a summary: Joe Biden went to Kiev in March 2016 and urged Ukraine's government to fire its top prosecutor who had been turning a blind eye to corruption. He threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees if the Ukrainian government didn't comply. It worked.

The move benefited Biden's son, Hunter, who was on the board of an energy company that was being investigated by the fired prosecutor.

Giuliani's role in placing the story can be found 19 paragraphs in:

Mr. Giuliani has spearheaded the effort among conservatives to publicize and encourage the new investigation in Ukraine.

Mr. Giuliani said he got involved because he was seeking to counter the Mueller investigation with evidence that Democrats had conspired with sympathetic Ukrainians to help initiate what became the special counsel’s inquiry.

The information was supposed to provide a counterpoint to Paul Manafort another politically prominent American "who made money in Ukraine over the last decade." The problem with the New York Times story is there is no allegation of wrongdoing by either Biden. Every indication was that Biden's actions were consistent with longstanding Obama administration policy.

The former vice president’s campaign said that he had always acted to carry out United States policy without regard to any activities of his son, that he had never discussed the matter with Hunter Biden and that he learned of his son’s role with the Ukrainian energy company from news reports.

The story also wasn't new. The New York Times reported about Joe and Hunter Biden's activities in 2015.

So how did it become front-page news again in 2019? Because that's what Giuliani wanted.

Giuliani immediately called for an investigation of Biden on Twitter, without mentioning his role in placing the story. "Biden conflicts are too apparent to be ignored and should be investigated quickly and expeditiously. But the more important question is how deep and how high did the alleged Ukraine conspiracy go?" Giuliani wrote.

"Spygate" returns

The next New York Times article promoted by Giuliani revived Trump's long-debunked claim that the Obama administration "wiretapped" his campaign. Trump first made the claim in a March 4, 2017 tweet.

This specific allegation quickly morphed into a broader claim that the Obama administration had planted a spy deep within his presidential campaign.

Last week, President Trump promoted new, unconfirmed accusations to suit his political narrative: that a "criminal deep state” element within Mr. Obama’s government planted a spy deep inside his presidential campaign to help his rival, Hillary Clinton, win — a scheme he branded "Spygate.” It was the latest indication that a president who has for decades trafficked in conspiracy theories has brought them from the fringes of public discourse to the Oval Office.

Of course, that wasn't true either. But it didn't stop the New York Times from publishing a story about a counter-intelligence asset asking a campaign aide if he was communicating with Russia and linking it to "Spygate."

The woman had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues. But she was actually a government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with the operation. The F.B.I. sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.

The American government’s affiliation with the woman, who said her name was Azra Turk, is one previously unreported detail of an operation that has become a political flash point in the face of accusations by President Trump and his allies that American law enforcement and intelligence officials spied on his campaign to undermine his electoral chances. Last year, he called it Spygate.

The story again appeared on the front page.

The counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign, beginning in the summer of 2016, has been publicly reported for years. It was the basis of the Mueller investigation. Nevermind that the meeting took place in London. Or that it involved a staffer that Trump himself described as a "low level volunteer." Or that the alleged spy was not a member of the campaign but had a single meeting with Papadopoulos.

Somehow, this was front page news and evidence that Trump's claims of wiretapping and a spy inside of the campaign had merit.

Giuliani knew precisely how to spin it.

Don't worry about the details of Rudy's tweet. You'd need to watch Sean Hannity every night to understand it. But to the people Giuliani is trying to reach, it makes perfect sense.

Why the NYT says no thanks

What about the stuff in the Rudy Report that the New York Times wouldn't take? Giuliani has plenty of options. For example, Giuliani laundered an old story about a DNC contractor who reached out to the Ukranian embassy about Paul Manafort. For that story, Giuliani tapped John Solomon, an "opinion contributor" to The Hill. (The story was reported in Politico in January 2017.)

Solomon was forced to stop reporting for The Hill after "newsroom staffers at The Hill have complained to management." Solomon is notorious for recycling old stories with pro-Trump spin, including one that "framed President Trump’s accusers as money-grubbing opportunists" instead of  "victims of sexual assault or misconduct." Solomon appears regularly on Hannity.

Giuliani has also been promoting the work of The Epoch Times, a mysterious Chinese publication that has been banned by the Chinese government and has taken a decidedly pro-Trump editorial turn.

Thanks for reading!