Imagine you’re a seasoned, white-collar defense lawyer with a stellar reputation. Your practice is sailing along, and in South Florida there’s no shortage of wealthy Medicare fraudsters, money launderers and corporate embezzlers who’d love to hire you.
Then one day the phone rings. An old friend and former law school classmate is in trouble. His name is Rudy Giuliani.
He wants you to help.
And you say, Sure — maybe because you’re a loyal friend, or maybe because you love a challenge, or maybe because you’ve temporarily taken leave of your senses.
Because, at this point in a long distinguished career, do you really need a frothing, undisciplined fool for a client?
Jon A. Sale does not.
The Miami-based attorney has built an enviable resume that includes many years as a federal prosecutor, going all the way back to the Watergate investigation. As a defense counsel he’s well respected by judges and peers.
He avoids the limelight. Doesn’t posture. Doesn’t blabber. Usually his clients pay attention and behave.
But now he’s got one who can’t stop yakking and is pathologically addicted to seeing his own twitchy face on TV. By his own actions, Giuliani has made himself the most visible stooge in the Donald Trump impeachment comedy.
Rudy’s worse than a loose cannon. He’s a meandering cluster bomb.
However, the fact he wanted Jon Sale to be his attorney is proof that he’s still got a few functioning brain cells.
Sale’s chore will be dealing with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which recently subpoenaed documents from Giuliani relating to his contacts with certain Ukrainians.
The panel’s letter to the former New York mayor last week said it was investigating “credible allegations that you acted as an agent of the president in a scheme to advance his personal interests by abusing the power of the Office of the President.”
Unluckily for Sale, it was Trump himself who outed Giuliani as a go-to operative in the reconstructed White House transcript of Trump’s famously unsubtle phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Trump was convinced that Ukraine authorities had dirt on Joe Biden, a top contender to be Trump’s Democratic opponent in the 2020 election. The president’s phone call pressuring Zelensky triggered a CIA officer’s whistleblower complaint, which then triggered the impeachment inquiry.
Giuliani’s response was to frantically begin lining up television appearances. On CNN, he first denied asking Ukraine to investigate Biden and then 30 seconds later flopped over and admitted it.
He also began re-pushing the idea that he’s been investigating actions by top Ukraine officials to secretly help Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election campaign.
“I’m the real whistleblower,” Rudy bleated to Politico in one of many loopy interviews. “If I get killed, you won’t get the rest of the story.”
On a whim, he tossed former President Obama into the mix, advancing a theory that Obama and Hillary had worked with Ukraine to get compromising information about Trump in 2017.
Why would they have waited months after the election to hatch such a plot? Rudy didn’t explain. Simultaneously, he ramped up his unproven corruption accusations against Biden, making fun of the former vice president for driving a “little car” and living in “a little cottage.” The point of those remarks was a mystery to everyone but Giuliani.
No other sitting president would keep someone as scattered and unpolished as their private lawyer, but it’s possible that Trump views Rudy’s nasty public outbursts as a useful distraction from his own.
In one phone call to a reporter, Giuliani seethed: “These morons — when this is over, I will be the hero.”
So not only will Jon Sale have to sort through a “very complex” Congressional subpoena, he’ll also have to deal with Ramblin’ Rudy, who can’t seem to keep his story straight, or his mouth closed.
“Stop giving interviews,” might well be Sale ’s first piece of legal advice, followed by:
“Please shut up,” followed by:
“Rudy, I’m begging you. Enough already,” followed by:
“Okay, are you hard of hearing? I said zip it,” followed by:
In a brief, low-key interview with the Herald/Times, Sale said: “I have known Mayor Giuliani, and he’s been a friend of mine for a long time.”
Then he added: “This not my first rodeo.”
Maybe not, but this time he got stuck with the clown.