'Hammered by his old friend, RICO': Columnist analyzes Giuliani’s 'bewildering' fall from grace

'Hammered by his old friend, RICO': Columnist analyzes Giuliani’s 'bewildering' fall from grace
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 19: Rudy Giuliani accuses people of voting twice as he speaks to the press about various lawsuits related to the 2020 election, inside the Republican National Committee headquarters on November 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump, who has not been seen publicly in several days, continues to push baseless claims about election fraud and dispute the results of the 2020 United States presidential election. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images).

Before he became The Big Apple's mayor, Rudy Giuliani built a reputation as a formidable United States attorney in the Southern District of New York by using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act of 1970 to prosecute organized crime leaders. On Wednesday, Slate Magazine's Fred Kaplan discusses Giuliani's fall from grace after he was indicted along with former President Donald Trump and seventeen others by Fulton County, Georga District Attorney Fani Willis under that same law for allegedly conspiring to steal the 2020 election.

"Irony is too mild a tag to capture the predicament in which this man finds himself. Shameful and appalling are other words that come quickly to mind. Another term—more apt still after a moment’s reflection—is bewildering," Kaplan writes. "Giuliani didn't merely cite RICO statutes to take down many criminals; he practically invented the art of doing so."

Kaplan recalls, "Giuliani and his team were the first prosecutors to figure out how to do this, in a systematic way, in a major felony case—and it was precisely the sort of case that the statute's drafters had in mind. In the Mafia Commission trial, which lasted from February 1985 until November 1986, the Southern District indicted 11 Mafia figures, including leaders from all of the 'five families,' who controlled myriad businesses and municipal services across New York City. Convicted of charges including extortion, labor racketeering, and murder for hire, the leaders were sentenced to between 70 and 100 years in prison."

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Giuliani then "went after white-collar criminals in the financial world, indicting Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken, whose insider trading practices were breathtakingly brazen—and lucrative," Kaplan continues, noting, "The trials of the five families and the Wall Street insiders put Giuliani on the map. He ran for mayor, winning on his second bid in 1993, on the basis of his success as a crime-fighting crusader. The trials also legitimized RICO as a powerful prosecutorial tool against criminals who couldn't easily be nabbed for their individual acts. (It is significant that Al Capone, the most notorious mobster in pre-RICO days, was indicted and prosecuted on the relatively minor charge of income tax evasion)."

Given Giuliani's expertise, Kaplan posits, "How did he fall into this trap?"

Kaplan says that "the Rudy Giuliani of the Trump era is very different from the Rudy Giuliani of the 1980s and '90s," when he was a "liberal Republican back in the days when there were such creatures." After Giuliani guided the country through the trauma of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, he "plotted a course to the White House and was considered a more than plausible candidate. But he flamed out" because "he was too liberal for the party's base." At that point, "he faced a choice: get out of national Republican politics or tack hard to the right. He chose the latter," says Kaplan.

Following his recruitment as "one of Trump's most fiercely growling attack dogs in the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton," Kaplan adds, Giuliani "also became rich, racking up high fees as a consultant and keynote speaker."

Through his "arrogant defensiveness" and "insatiable desire for wealth and power," Kaplan concludes, "Giuliani lost sight of many things from his past—his political values, his personal tastes, and, it seems, his deep understanding that if you hang around with corrupt people, helping them do corrupt things, you can get hammered by his old friend, RICO."

READ MORE: Trump reneged on 'handshake agreement' to pay lawyers pushing false election claims: report

Kaplan's analysis is available at this link.

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