The Fog of Rudy: Did he change — or did America?

Jonathan Mahler in The New York Times:

In the middle of September, shortly before the House of Representatives opened its impeachment inquiry against President Trump, I started texting with his personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, to try to arrange a time to get together. I stressed that I wasn’t looking for sound bites; I wanted to talk, in depth, about the whole arc of his career, with the goal of explaining how he wound up at the center of this historic moment. There were several weeks of inconclusive, if at times amusing, exchanges — when I reminded him of the numerous Giuliani profiles this magazine has published over the course of the last four decades, he ‘‘loved’’ my text — before I decided to call him on his cellphone. It was a Friday evening, a few days after his business associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arraigned on charges of conspiring to funnel foreign money into American elections. To my surprise, Giuliani answered. I could hear that he was in a crowded bar or restaurant; he sounded as if he was in good spirits. ‘‘I really want to talk to you,’’ he said. ‘‘The thing is, I’m a little busy right now. Give me another week, and I should have all of this behind me.’’

Since then, things seem to have gotten a lot worse for Giuliani. The House has impeached the president largely on the basis of Giuliani’s work, and Giuliani himself has come under investigation for possibly serving as an unregistered agent of a foreign government. And yet he has continued to go on cable television and Twitter, making reckless statements, all the while pressing a bizarre and baseless corruption case against Joe Biden. All of this has left a lot of people puzzled. How did a man who was once — pick your former Rudy: priestly prosecutor, avenging crime-buster, America’s mayor — become this guy, ranting on TV, unapologetically pursuing debunked conspiracy theories, butt-dialing reporters, sharing photos of himself scheming in actual smoke-filled rooms? What happened?

More here.