Rudy Giuliani told Fox News’s Martha MacCallum on Oct. 26 that Donald Trump had “a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next two days.”
“I’m talking about some pretty big surprise,” he said.
Two days later, FBI Director James Comey revealed to Congress that his agents had resumed their investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, after agents in an unrelated case discovered emails that could potentially be relevant to the server case.
Giuliani is a former U.S. attorney and New York mayor whose former law firm represents the FBI Agents Association, as the Daily Beast points out. But does he have inside sources at the bureau who might have given him a heads-up about what was to come?
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Giuliani said no, and that he in particular had no heads-up on Comey’s big reveal. He said his cryptic prediction of a surprise was about a Donald Trump advertising blitz in the final days of the campaign, and he had not talked to current FBI agents in the last eight to ten months.
“In that particular situation, I was actually talking about the advertising campaign that you were referencing earlier, that I knew was going to come as a big surprise,” Giuliani said of his comments to Martha MacCallum.
Giuliani also addressed the question in an interview with “Fox & Friends” on Friday morning, though his answers were so vague that it is difficult to assess even what exactly he claimed to have known about.
Giuliani said he was “real careful not to talk to any on-duty, active FBI agents,” but he had “a lot of friends who are retired FBI agents, close, personal friends.” He then opined about how his retired agent friends disagreed with Comey’s decision not to charge Clinton in the email case, and they felt the Justice Department was “obstructing” agents’ separate efforts to look into the Clinton Foundation.
Rudy Giuliani on Clinton/FBI: "I did nothing to get it out, I had no role in it. Did I hear about it? You’re darn right I heard about it…" pic.twitter.com/Xx8lTuxfsE
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) November 4, 2016
That is all roughly true — though it was career public integrity prosecutors, rather than politically appointed Justice Department officials, who were skeptical of the agents’ foundation evidence and denied their request to go forward. But it was also all recently made public, and Giuliani wouldn’t have needed insider or even retired sources to talk about it.
Giuliani was then asked about his comments to MacCallum. What exactly did he know, and what of the suggestion that he might have been “part of that”?
“I’m not part of it at all,” Giuliani said. “All I heard were former FBI agents telling me that there’s revolution going on inside the FBI and it’s now at a boiling point, and —”
“So you had a general idea that something was coming,” host Brian Kilmeade interrupted.
“I, I had expected this for the last, honestly to tell you the truth, I thought it was going to be about three or four weeks ago, because back, way back in July this started, they kept getting stymied looking for subpoenas, looking for records,” Giuliani said.
The answer suggests Giuliani is claiming to have known not of the development in the Clinton email case, but of frustration over the Clinton Foundation matter. Agents wanting to look into the foundation made a pitch to career public integrity prosecutors in February and were told they did not have enough evidence to move forward. The development in the Clinton email case was far more recent. Agents investigating former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) recovered the computer now at issue in the email case in early October.
Giuliani denied he was a part of any effort to leak details of any investigations. “I did nothing to get it out, and I had no role in it,” he said. But in the next breath, he said: “Did I hear about it? You’re darn right I heard about it, and I can’t even repeat the language that I heard from the former FBI agents.”
Blitzer asked Giuliani what, precisely, he was referring to. Giuliani said he was referring to the “consternation within the FBI.” He again repeated that he had no information about the Clinton email case, though he then suggested that he was perhaps less surprised by the latest development because of what he had heard previously about the FBI tensions.
“I had no information about that at all,” Giuliani said, referring to the email case. “That came as a complete surprise to me, except to the extent that maybe it wasn’t as much of a surprise to me because I had been hearing for quite some time that there was a lot of — I don’t know how you would describe it, maybe revolution is too strong a word — but a lot of debate and anger within the FBI about the way they were being treated by the Justice Department.”
Agents talking about ongoing cases, even to those retired from the bureau, is potentially problematic, though it does happen. Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon, retweeting a transcript of Giuliani’s “Fox & Friends” appearance, wrote, “This sure seems like adequate grounds for an Inspector General review.”
This sure seems like adequate grounds for an Inspector General review.https://t.co/EEJIfrFB0H
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) November 4, 2016
In a letter, Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) also called on the Inspector General to investigate leaks and referenced Giuliani’s comments.
“These unauthorized and inaccurate leaks from within the FBI, particularly so close to a presidential election, are unprecedented,” the legislators wrote.
Giuliani said he would cooperate with such an investigation, though he himself was not the recipient of any leaks.
A spokesman for the Justice Department inspector general has declined previously to say whether the office is investigating anything related to the Clinton investigation. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also has called for the inspector general to look into potential conflicts of interest of some of the FBI and Justice Department officials involved in the matter.
Giuliani did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment for this story. During his interview with Blitzer, Giuliani also vaguely suggested he was holding back more, potentially surprising information about Trump’s plan for the final four days, adding quickly, “it has nothing to do with the emails.”
This post has been updated to reflect Giuliani’s latest comments and Democrats request for an Inspector General investigation.