Rudy Giuliani
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Did we really need to see him again?

I thought we were done with Rudy Giuliani after his embarrassing failure in the 2008 Republican presidential primary. Yes, he popped up in the 2016 election, as well as in the early days of the Trump administration, but he was otherwise out of sight and out of mind. Now he’s back, like the proverbial horror-movie figure whose hand reaches from the grave:

President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani sought Friday to clean up a series of comments he had made about a settlement with an adult-film actress who allegedly had a relationship with Trump, backtracking on his previous assertions about what the president knew and why the payment was made.

The cautious wording of the written statement released by Giuliani stood in sharp contrast to his previous two days of wide-ranging television and print interviews in which, according to legal experts, he exposed his client to greater legal risks and might have compromised his own attorney-client privilege with the president.

The former New York mayor startled White House officials and other members of Trump’s legal team by announcing Wednesday that the president had reimbursed his personal lawyer Michael Cohen for a secret $130,000 payment he made in 2016 to actress Stormy Daniels. In several interviews, Giuliani also talked at length about how much Trump paid Cohen and when the reimbursements were made.

Some Trump advisers said they fear that Giuliani may have waived his right to assert that his conversations with the president are private — and that government or private lawyers pursuing lawsuits could now seek to interview him.

Are Giuliani and Trump still on good terms? Maybe…or maybe not:

After initially appearing to back Mr. Giuliani’s assertions in a series of Twitter messages on Thursday, Mr. Trump reversed course on Friday, after a series of headlines suggesting that the president had lied about knowing of the hush payment. In remarks to reporters on Friday, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. Giuliani and said he would eventually “get his facts straight.”

“Virtually everything said has been said incorrectly, and it’s been said wrong, or it’s been covered wrong by the press,” Mr. Trump told reporters, though he excused Mr. Giuliani by explaining he had “just started a day ago.”

In a written statement later in the day, Mr. Giuliani said that he had not been “describing my understanding of the president’s knowledge.” And he reversed a previous suggestion that the payment to Ms. Clifford was motivated by the election. Mr. Giuliani said on Friday that the payment was personal in nature and “would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not.” Mr. Giuliani told The Times that he had “confused” the two factors, but that it was irrelevant since Mr. Trump had repaid Mr. Cohen.

While some White House officials had insisted that Mr. Trump was pleased with Mr. Giuliani’s performance on Fox News in an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday night, two people close to the president painted a different picture. They said that Mr. Trump was displeased with how Mr. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, conducted himself, and that he was also unhappy with Mr. Hannity, a commentator whose advice the president often seeks, in terms of the language he used to describe the payments to Ms. Clifford.

Trump is displeased with how Giuliani conducted himself? Welcome to the club. Plenty of Americans were displeased with how Giuliani conducted himself as mayor of New York, where his administration made it quite clear, most notably in the horrific Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo cases, that black lives didn’t matter. Plenty of Americans were displeased by Giuliani’s hogging of the media spotlight in the weeks following 9/11, where it seemed as though he were making himself out to be every bit as heroic as the cops and firefighters who saved lives that day. Plenty of Americans were displeased by Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign, where he severely exaggerated his leadership qualities–and ended up failing miserably as a result.

Giuliani was always an overrated politician and an overrated intellect. Three years ago, he infamously declared that President Obama “doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me.” Obama doesn’t love Giuliani? Can you blame him? What rational person would?

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.