Rudy Giuliani is not acting as President Trump’s real lawyer, but rather, playing one on TV. His job, unlike the actual lawyers who do not appear on TV, is to throw red meat to the base, to please the “TV watcher in chief” and to conduct the Trumpian obliteration of truth. What’s apparent, however, is that he is very bad at giving Trump and his cultists ammunition to combat special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in the court of public opinion.

For one thing, Giuliani makes glaring reversals, which only serve to highlight Trump’s dishonesty and possible liability:

  • He didn’t know about the Stormy Daniels payment. Oh, no, he knew.
  • There was no collusion. Well, come to think of it, collusion is not a crime.
  • Michael Cohen is a great guy. Actually, he’s a liar. 

By the time you’ve finished listening to his frenetic reversals, you are much more inclined to believe that Trump knew about the Daniels payment but likely lied to his lawyers and staff; Trump and/or his son Donald Trump Jr. have legal exposure regarding conspiracy; and Cohen can’t be a disreputable liar, since Trump employed him for many years. These 180-degree turns work to an extent with obsequious Fox News hosts, but in the realm of legitimate news, his twists and turns get amplified — and worse, mocked.

In addition, Giuliani has lost a step (from his days as an eagle-eye prosecutor) and now makes damaging admissions with some regularity. On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, there was this display of buffoonery:

CHUCK TODD: What, what, I mean, I mean let’s talk with collusion, I mean the Trump Tower meeting itself is at least evidence of you better investigate. …
CHUCK TODD: — how is it not?
RUDY GIULIANI: Well, because the meeting was originally for the purpose of getting information about, about [Hillary] Clinton. The meeting turned into a meeting —
CHUCK TODD: Which in itself it’s attempted collusion. I understand —
RUDY GIULIANI: No it’s not.
CHUCK TODD: You just said it. The meeting was intended to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from a criminal lawyer.
RUDY GIULIANI:  No, it wasn’t. No, no.
CHUCK TODD: That was the intention of the meeting, you just said it.
RUDY GIULIANI: That was the original intention of the meeting. It turned out to be a meeting about another subject and it was not pursued at all. And, of course, any meeting with regard to getting information on your opponent is something any candidate’s staff would take. If someone said, I have information about your opponent, you would take that meeting. If it happens to be a person with a Russian —
CHUCK TODD: From the Russian government?
RUDY GIULIANI: She didn’t represent the Russian government, she’s a private citizen. I don’t even know if they knew she was Russian at the time. All they had was her name.
CHUCK TODD: They didn’t know she was Russian, I think they knew she was Russian, but OK.
RUDY GIULIANI: Well, they knew it when they met with her, not when they set up the meeting. You, you told me, you, you asked me, you know, did they show an intention to do anything with Russians? Well, all they knew is that a woman with a Russian name wanted to meet with them. They didn’t know she was a representative of the Russian government and indeed, she’s not a representative of the Russian government. So, this is much ado about nothing. Plus, the President of the United States wasn’t at that meeting. He didn’t know about that meeting. He found out about it after and by the time he found out about it, it was nothing.

Yes, Giuliani admitted they met with the purpose of getting something of value from a foreign national. That’s the problem. If true, that would be illegal. Moreover, at least Trump Jr. knew exactly who was asking for the meeting. In a NBC News piece this morning, Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann recount the email exchange preceding the Trump Tower meeting:

[ROB] GOLDSTONE: Emin [Agalarov] just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting. The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin. What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly? (Emphasis is ours.)
DONALD TRUMP JR: Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?
Then, on June 7, 2016, Goldstone wrote to Trump Jr. again:
GOLDSTONE: Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday. I believe you are aware of the meeting – and so wondered if 3pm or later on Thursday works for you? I assume it would be at your office. (Emphasis is ours.)
TRUMP JR: How about 3 at our offices? Thanks rob appreciate you helping set it up.

What did Giuliani accomplish in his “Meet the Press” appearance? He highlighted Trump Jr.’s not insignificant criminal exposure. As I said, Giuliani isn’t helping Team Trump.

Finally, Giuliani is becoming a walking gaffe machine. For a president who thrives on sound bites and gotcha moments, it is ironic that the best lines for his opponents now come from Trump’s TV lawyer. Giuliani’s “Truth isn’t truth” assertion spread throughout traditional and social media like a firestorm. Giuliani only highlighted his blunder with a feeble tweet trying to explain himself:

That’s not intelligible, let alone effective.

In short, Trump’s TV lawyer now provides more fodder for Trump’s opponents than he does for Trump. If Giuliani’s job is to buck up his side and demoralize the opposition, he’s failing miserably. You do wonder why Trump keeps him around.