Attorney General William Barr has reportedly counseled President Donald Trump that his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has served him poorly and should be dropped. The Washington Post reported Sunday that Barr has directly raised with Trump the need for him to recognize what a liability Giuliani has become. It is an interesting story because Giuliani has not only become inappropriately intertwined with State Department business but also Justice Department business. It is not clear if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made any such objections, but the Post is reporting that various sources have confirmed that Barr has moved against Giuliani.
The story is quite believable. Barr is highly protective over the Justice Department and he is a very different type of lawyer from Giuliani. The Ukraine business was likely the final straw for Barr. There is an ongoing investigation by U.S. Attorney John Durham into these questions and it is not the time for free lancing by Giuliani. Barr’s Department has also moved aggressively against Giuliani in a sprawling investigation as well as his two associates Igor Fruman. Those two highly dubious characters worked with Giuliani who was (according to Giuliani and various witnesses) working for President Trump in pursuing matters in Ukraine.
I have obviously been a vocal critic of Giuliani’s for years in his baffling public statements and efforts. Nevertheless, the President has embraced and empowered him. It is interesting to hear however that Barr has moved against Giuliani. Barr has tried to maintain the peace with the White House and get the Department back on terra firma. He has done well in the balance while protecting the Mueller and Durham investigations. That is evident from the fact that Barr’s department could build these highly damaging cases against Giuliani, Fruman, and Parnas not generate attacks from President Trump as was the case with Jeff Sessions. The move against Giuliani directly with Trump likely reflects a final exasperation with the damage being done by Giuliani and the difficult questions raised for the Department by his efforts.
Trump may not want to alienate Giuliani who is a wealth of information and influence. However, this story reflects a now open conflict between two of the biggest names in Trump’s inner circle.