US President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Wednesday dismissed the corruption cases plaguing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “joke,” saying all politicians routinely close deals with newspapers for favorable coverage, and that in his former role as New York City mayor he would reward those who supported him by giving them jobs.
He also claimed US special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is trying to “frame” US President Donald Trump, saying the investigation team includes “13 highly partisan Democrats… (who) are trying very very hard to frame him to get him in trouble when he hasn’t done anything wrong,” according to a transcript.
Addressing the Globes capital market conference in Tel Aviv, Giuliani said Trump has the power to pardon himself but won’t — because he is innocent. It was the latest in Giuliani’s often contradictory comments surrounding the probe into Russian meddling in US elections.
Giuliani had nothing but praise for Netanyahu, telling the confab: “You’re very lucky to have a distinguished prime minister like Netanyahu. There were times over the last 10 years when I wished he was our president, compared to what we had” — a dig at former US president Barack Obama.
“I believe that [Netanyahu] is a distinguished leader who intends to make Israel greater, stronger, and safer, and so far it’s working,” he added, citing Israel’s “exceedingly better” economy.
Netanyahu’s relationship with Trump is “great” and both leaders are “realistic,” the US president’s attorney maintained.
Giuliani was also dismissive of a pair of criminal cases surrounding the Israeli premier in which police have recommended indictments on bribery, fraud, and breach of trust charges. Netanyahu denies all wrongdoing and the attorney general has yet to decide whether to pursue charges.
“The liberal media doesn’t like Netanyahu and Trump, so their coverage of them is prejudiced,” he added, referring to the criminal cases. “The case against Netanyahu, at least according to what I’ve heard, is a joke. Cigars? Come on.”
In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, amounting to some NIS 1 million ($282,000) worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer, in return for certain benefits.
Case 2000 involves an illicit deal he allegedly hatched with the owner of Israel’s biggest selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, under which the prime minister would get more favorable coverage from the paper. In return, the premier was allegedly prepared to handicap Yedioth’s pro-Netanyahu rival, the free daily Israel Hayom, which is owned by American billionaire philanthropist Sheldon Adelson.
Netanyahu has also been questioned in Case 4000, which involves suspicions he advanced regulations benefiting Bezeq telecom’s owner, Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for flattering coverage from Bezeq’s Walla news site.
“The fact that he closed a deal with a newspaper in order to get favorable coverage?” Giuliani said. “There isn’t a politician in the world who hasn’t done this. It’s political. I never filed an indictment against politicians for things that politicians do just to get favorable coverage.”
“When I was mayor of New York, I offered jobs to people who supported me. You do favors for people who supported you in politics,” he added.
PA ‘educating its children to murder’
Giuliani offered complete support for Israel’s position on Jerusalem and lambasted the Palestinians.
“If you respect someone, you recognize his capital. It’s a sign of disrespect if you don’t do it. The only reason why people don’t recognize Jerusalem is that they are giving in to fear of terrorism from the Palestinian Authority,” he said.
He blasted the Palestinian Authority as “unfit to take responsibility and is educating its children to murder. They’re making very dangerous choices.”
When asked about prospects for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, he said that for that to happen, “the entire dynamics have to change and the Palestinians have to be willing to do things they haven’t done in the past.
“They have to do three things: recognize Israel, promote peace, and come out against terrorism. As of now, they haven’t done these things. Our previous presidents, Obama and Clinton, ignored this and the situation only got worse,” he added.
The Trump administration has been preparing a peace talks proposal, which has yet to be unveiled.
The wide-ranging remarks also saw Giuliani say the US has meddled in foreign elections in the past and argue that Moscow has long sought to sway the American vote.
“The Russians have been trying to influence our elections since the 1950s and this has to be accepted. Have we Americans never interfered with elections outside the US? Of course we have. We do it to disseminate democratic values — everyone tried to interfere in elections,” according to a transcript by Globes.
When asked about the US president’s attitude to women, Giuliani said, “Trump is a real gentleman who respects his wife and loves his daughter and has a warm relationship with his ex-wives — that’s not something I can say about everybody. I haven’t heard a bad word about him from his ex-wives.”
AP, Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.