Donald Trump has reportedly pushed one of his closest allies — his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — under the bus by refusing to pay his eye-watering legal bills.
The former New York mayor stood by the President through thick and thin, and played a key role in Trump’s failed attempts to overturn the results of November’s presidential election in several legal challenges.
He travelled up and down the nation to swing states won by Joe Biden in recent weeks in a bid to have the votes in those states re-examined.
But as Trump becomes increasingly isolated in his final days in office, he has reportedly turned on Giuliani.
According to the Washington Post, Trump has instructed his aides not to pay Giuliani’s outstanding fees.
Sources told the newspaper the president is offended by Giuliani’s demand for US$20,000 a day, a figure the lawyer denies. They say White House officials have been told not to put through any of Giuliani’s calls.
The rift has been denied by Trump’s aide Jason Miller who tweeted: “Just spoke with President Trump, and he told me that @RudyGiuliani is a great guy and a Patriot who devoted his services to the country! We all love America’s Mayor!”
However, the reports of breakdown with the president is not the only thing Giuliani has to worry about. He is also coming under fire for comments he made in the build-up to last week’s riots and made a bizarre excuse to justify them overnight.
Addressing Trump’s Save America rally in Washington last week, Giuliani said: “I’m willing to stake my reputation, the president is willing to stake his reputation, on the fact that we’re going to find criminality there.” He added: “Let’s have trial by combat.”
In an interview with The Hill newspaper this week, he said he was just quoting Game of Thrones — which he believed was a “documentary”.
He explained he was referring to the “kind of trial that took place for Tyrion in that very famous documentary about fictitious medieval England.”
“When Tyrion, who is a very small man, is accused of murder. He didn’t commit murder, he can’t defend himself, and he hires a champion to defend him,” Giuliani said.
He was referring to Tyrion Lannister – the character played by actor Peter Dinklage – and an incident that happened to him in the hit HBO show’s first season.
To be clear, Game of Thrones has no basis in reality and is a fantasy series based on books by writer George R. R. Martin.
Giuliani told The Hill that at the rally he was asking for a “trial between machines” – essentially a call to have the “crooked” Dominion voting machines examined.
“I challenge them to allow us to examine their machines. And then I say the consequences of the trial by combat will be if they prove that they’re wrong, we’ll be exceedingly embarrassed, we’ll be disgraced,” he said. “If we prove they’re wrong, they go to jail.”
In a further headache for the lawyer, the rift with the president may serve a blow to his hopes of receiving a presidential pardon.
Giuliani held discussions with Trump about receiving protection over his work on the president’s behalf in Ukraine.
Criminal charges of illegal campaign donations have been filed against two Giuliani associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — who worked to try to dig up dirt on Biden and his son Hunter.
The US Treasury placed sanctions Monday on four Ukrainians who aided Giuliani in an election campaign effort to smear Biden.
Former Ukrainian government officials Konstantin Kulyk, Oleksandr Onyshchenko, Andriy Telizhenko, and current Ukraine lawmaker Oleksandr Dubinsky were called part of an effort led by “Russian agent” Andrii Derkach to undermine Biden’s presidential run, the Treasury said.
All four were in contact with or met with Mr Giuliani in late 2019 as he sought to compile evidence that now President-elect Biden and his son Hunter were involved in corruption in Ukraine.