The FBI did not inform Giuliani of the Russian disinformation. It’s bad for him.
The cycle of news swirling around Rudy Giuliani, personal lawyer for former President Donald Trump, can be difficult to follow at times. Within 48 hours, The Washington Post reported – then retracted – that Giuliani received a defensive briefing from the FBI in 2019, when he was immersed in the digging up of Ukrainian land on Joe Biden and his son Hunter as part of Trump’s re-election campaign.
Shortly after the Post’s correction, The New York Times and NBC News Likewise remote articles claiming that the FBI had informed Giuliani. As the former New York mayor tries to spin this reporting snafu to paint himself as a political victim of fake news, the decision not to inform him could actually mean he has more problems than he thinks.
As might be expected, Giuliani’s jubilation was joined by polarized postures of the right-wing media relishing the retraction of the media which they perceive as favoring the left. Journalism experts have also wondered how such reputable journalists could have gone wrong in this story. Yet a more interesting question received little attention – why would the Federal Government have scheduled, and then canceled, a defensive briefing for Rudy?
In its correction, the Washington Post clarified that the Department of Justice and FBI’s Counterintelligence Division had prepared a briefing intended to explain to Giuliani how the conspiracy theories being conveyed to him by the Ukrainians could be part of. a Russian intelligence operation. This briefing was simply never given:
Officials planned to warn Giuliani as part of a major office effort to alert members of Congress and at least one conservative outlet, One America News, that they ran the risk of being used to further the attempt to Russia to influence the election outcome, said several current and former US officials. All spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue remains very sensitive.
Significantly, even in its corrected version, The Washington Post explained what it knew about why the FBI was even considering a visit to Giuliani in the first place:
The FBI became aware in late 2019 that Rudolph W. Giuliani was the target of a Russian influence operation to circulate lies intended to politically harm President Biden ahead of last year’s election, according to reports. people familiar with the matter.
What no media outlet examined in detail, however, was the question of why the FBI – knowing that someone was the target of a Russian intelligence operation – would decide not to sit down with that person.
During my 25 year career with the FBI, and as head of counterintelligence, I have given hundreds of defensive briefings to thousands of people. The vast majority of these briefings were routine “don’t let this happen to you” presentations on how foreign intelligence services work to recruit Americans and steal our secrets. Sometimes I wrote auditoriums filled with employees of defense contractors. I once preached my safety sermon back to back all day until I briefed an entire submarine base. As I said, these briefings were routine – until they weren’t.
The fact that Johnson was given a briefing and Giuliani didn’t say so speaks volumes about just how difficult Rudy is.
As described in my book, “The FBI Way: In the Bureau’s Code of Excellence, “I had to sit down with a minor presidential candidate and carefully let him know that the FBI knew he had quietly met with officers from an adversarial intelligence service. In another case, I confronted a sitting congressman about their These defensive briefings were nothing but routine – neither were those considered for Rudy Giuliani or the one that was ultimately provided to Sen. Ron Johnson, R- Wis.
After the Washington Post article was published, Johnson publicly acknowledged his visit by FBI counter-intelligence agents, while downplaying the importance of the briefing. The fact that Johnson – who as Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee at the time investigate Biden which was based on misinformation from Moscow – received a briefing and Giuliani did not say much about the degree of difficulty in which Rudy finds himself.
While the New York Times version simply stated that the FBI briefing never took place, NBC’s correction hinted at the problems inherent in briefing an investigative subject on the very allegations he is making the call for. under investigation. Specifically, the briefing was not given “in part for fear of complicating the criminal investigation into Giuliani”.
Telling someone who is already guilty that he may be over his head would be like telling a bank robber that he may have been recorded by a security camera.
In other words, the FBI and its DOJ bosses have determined that in continuing work in Ukraine, they investigated, and spreading Russian disinformation in the process, Giuliani had already crossed the line in terms of knowingly cooperating with a foreign intelligence operation to undermine the election. Telling someone who is already guilty that he may be over his head would be like telling a bank robber that he may have been recorded by a security camera. It would be too little, too late. The bank robber already weighed this risk when he decided to continue robbing banks.
Telling Giuliani, former Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice and former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was already immersed in Trump’s re-election shenanigans and recklessly trying to damage Biden’s campaign, that he should be careful of Russian disinformation would have undermined the ongoing investigation and risked mistakenly believing that he could avoid legal trouble by simply stopping what he was doing. If I’m right, prosecutors had already ruled that the US mayor was beyond the legal point of no return.