MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: Our Meet the Candidates 2008 series continues, an exclusive interview with Republican Rudy Giuliani. He has served as associate attorney general in Washington, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, and in 1993 was elected and in 1997 re-elected the 107th mayor of the city of New York. This morning Mayor Rudy Giuliani joins us for the full hour on MEET THE PRESS.
Mayor Giuliani, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.
FMR. MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI: Thank you, Tim. Nice to be back.
MR. RUSSERT: Let’s go right to it. Mason-Dixon, MSNBC have done some polling. First the Democrats, just to share with our viewers and give you a sense of that race. Here’s Iowa: Hillary Clinton, 27; Obama is 25; Edwards, 21--three-way dead race. New Hampshire, Clinton ahead by just three. South Carolina, Clinton over Obama by three. And the Nevada caucus, which is September 19th—November—excuse me, January 19th, Clinton, 34; Obama, 26.
Now the Republicans. Here they are, Iowa: Huckabee, 32; Romney, 20; Thompson, 11; McCain, 7; Giuliani, 5. Fifth place, is that a problem?
MR. GIULIANI: I wish you had shown Florida. It would—it would have—it would have looked better, where we have an 18-point lead. There are, there are some polls we’re behind, some where we’re ahead. I think there are 21, 22, 23 primaries and caucuses going up to February 5th. I think we’re ahead in 16, 18 of them. I don’t expect to win all of them. We’re going to work real hard in every single one of them, maybe surprise some people in Iowa, maybe in New Hampshire, work real hard there. South Carolina, Michigan, Nevada. Then we get to Florida, where I think the latest poll was 16 to 18-point lead, and we’ve had a lead there of that magnitude pretty much throughout. Every once in a while it slipped back to like seven or eight.
MR. RUSSERT: But in fifth place in Iowa, would it be better for you if Huckabee beat Romney in Iowa? Wouldn’t that be helpful?
MR. GIULIANI: The best thing is if you win. That’s the very best thing.
MR. RUSSERT: But that...
MR. GIULIANI: Who knows. Who knows. I—you’ve been through so many of these, Tim. You know that no candidate has won all the primaries in a, in a hotly contested one. This is one in which that’s not very conceivable, given all the good candidates there are. So if we can win a couple at the beginning, you know; win Florida for sure. We go into February 5th, then, ahead in New York, Illinois, California, New Jersey, Connecticut. We’re actually ahead right now, I believe, in Missouri. Kit Bond’s endorsement probably helped there more than me. But the reality is we’ve got, we’ve got a lead probably in, like, 15 of the 20 on February 5th, Florida, and we’re competitive. But we’ve got a long way to go in some of them. So we’re going to see. We’re going to work real hard.
MR. RUSSERT: Here’s New Hampshire: Romney’s ahead of—as you can see, 25; Giuliani, 17; McCain, 16. South Carolina: Huckabee is ahead 20; Giuliani, 17; Romney, 15. And Nevada, we’ll show you Nevada: Giuliani is ahead 25, 20, 17.
MR. GIULIANI: Now do Florida. Do Florida.
MR. RUSSERT: We, we haven’t done Florida. But we’ll, we’ll get there eventually.
MR. GIULIANI: No, but you look, you look at South Carolina, that’s, that’s a good place to be for someone who has, you know, campaigned all over the country. We haven’t concentrated on any one state. We’ve kind of had a proportionate campaign all over. Some of the candidates have concentrated on a state. We got a real good organization in South Carolina. That’s a very competitive place to be.
MR. RUSSERT: But if you lose...
MR. GIULIANI: New Hampshire.
MR. RUSSERT: ...Iowa, if you lose Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina, you’re still in?
MR. GIULIANI: I’m, I’m, I’m in, all right? The idea is you want to win the first one. If you lose the first one, you want to win the second one. If you lose the second one, you want to win the third one. And you want to be there for, you know, Florida, at the end of the month, big state. And you want to be there, certainly, for February 5th when we’re going to have more primaries on one day than we’ve ever had in our history. And some real big states, you know, New York, Illinois, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to some important issues first.
MR. GIULIANI: Oh, and Michigan is in there, too. We shouldn’t miss Michigan is in there in January.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to Iran. The National Intelligence Estimate is out. This is what they reported from our intelligence community. “We judge with high confidence that in” the “fall” of “2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.
“We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007.
“We judge with moderate confidence that the earliest possible date Iran would be technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon is late 2009, but” this “is very unlikely.
“We judge with high confidence that Iran will not be technically capable of producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before 2015.”
And when the National Intelligence Estimate was asked as to why that may have happened, this was their conclusion:
“Our assessment that Iran halted the program in 2003 primarily in response to international pressure indicates Tehran’s decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs.”
Seeing that, hearing that, learning that...
MR. GIULIANI: Right.
MR. RUSSERT: Doesn’t this remove the option of a pre-emptive military strike against Iran?
MR. GIULIANI: No, I, I don’t think it does. I think, I think you always leave open the military option in a situation, and you’ve got to interpret it, you’ve got to interpret that as between high confidence, moderate confidence. I think what it’s saying, I think a fair interpretation is that, at least in their estimate, which they warn you may not be correct if you read the introductory part of it, right now the short-term issue is not nearly as grave, but they go on to say that the long-term issue is still there, that they can’t, they can’t with any high degree of confidence say that they’re not going to move ultimately toward nuclear weapons. So our, our—the option of this government should be that we don’t take any options off the table, and we keep the pressure on them.
And of course we don’t, we don’t want to use the military option. It would be dangerous; it would be risky. But I think it would be more dangerous and more risky if Iran did become a nuclear power. We should utilize sanctions. We should utilize as much pressure as we’re capable of. But the fact that that is there, that military option is there, not taken off the table ultimately increases the pressure, doesn’t it? The reality is the pressure works. They said that, too, right? They, they said in 2003 Iran abandoned its nuclear program, they believe, because of all the pressure, all the threats, that they are susceptible to that. 2003 was the year in which we deposed Saddam Hussein. It was the year in which America showed massive military strength.
MR. RUSSERT: But you’re not saying deposing Saddam Hussein was a reason that Iran suspended its program?
MR. GIULIANI: I, I was going—no, I, I said you’ve got to look at what was going on in 2003. All of a sudden Iran, according to this, if it’s correct—and again, we all have to factor this with it may or may not be correct, high confidence, they go on to warn you that that doesn’t mean it’s certain. When you read this, you’ve got to have a chart to interpret it. So the reality is they stopped in 2003. So now let’s look at what was going on in 2003. We had just won a big victory in Afghanistan, we had deposed Saddam Hussein. That’s around the time Qadafi was putting up the red flag, the white flag of surrender. So—and they say that pressure helped to bring Iran to that position.
MR. RUSSERT: Diplomatic pressure.
MR. GIULIANI: Well, well, pressure in general. And the idea that the military option is not taken off the table has got to add to that pressure. You take the military option off the table completely, I think you move back into a different situation. When you say the military option is on the table, it doesn’t mean as some, you know, political opponents like to say that you, you know, you’re, you’re threatening or—it’s a statement of policy. And then you say, what we want to do, we want to see a peaceful solution to this. Nobody would be happier than Americans to see a peaceful solution to this. And then you also try to get your allies to be as strong as they possibly can be on the sanctions because I think I would use that NIE with them to say, ‘It works. This works. This kind of diplomatic pressure and not taking the military option off the table works.’ 2003, all the pressure was there and the military option was on the table, and they stopped. Why would we now take it off the table?
MR. RUSSERT: Norman Podhoretz, who’s an adviser of yours on foreign policy, this is what he wrote.
“The case for bombing Iran. I hope and pray that President Bush will do it,” by Norman Podhoretz: And then this interview.
“Norman Podhoretz believes that American needs to go to war soon with Iran. As far as he knows, Rudy Giuliani thinks the same thing.
“‘I was asked to come in and give him a briefing on the war, World War IV,’” said Mr. Podhoretz, a founding father of neoconservatism and leading foreign policy adviser to Mr. Giuliani. ‘As far as I can tell there is very little difference in how he sees the war and how I see it.’”
Do you believe that, like Norman Podhoretz, that we should bomb Iran as soon as logistically possible?
MR. GIULIANI: No, I believe what I just said and have said consistently, that military options should not be taken off the table. It could be a big mistake to do that, but that that should be an option that would be even thought about only as a last resort.
MR. RUSSERT: Podhoretz...
MR. GIULIANI: And that that diplomatic pressure, other kinds of political pressure, economic pressure, which is, I think, also enormously helpful here, trying to get more help from Russia and China—I think all of this can work. I think it works less successfully if you go ahead and take the military option off the table. But I don’t think the military option is the thing that we want. I mean, that isn’t the thing that we, we, we want to get to if we don’t have to. Again, we would only get to it if it was a last resort and under this kind of an analysis. Understanding it would be dangerous and risky, but that it would be more dangerous and more risky for Iran, a highly irresponsible regime, to be having nuclear weapons. It was the worst nightmare of the Cold War, the idea that irresponsible people would have nuclear weapons. So I would, I would say you put great emphasis on sanctions, you put great emphasis on economic pressure, hope that that works. Looks like it’s had some success already, although you have to have some pause with the other comment that says they’re only moderately confident that they haven’t resumed moving toward nuclear weapons. So you got to, you got to be cautious about this.
MR. RUSSERT: Podhoretz also wrote this, this week. “I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again. This time the purpose is to head off the possibility that the president may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations.”
Do you think the intelligence community is intentionally putting this information out?
MR. GIULIANI: I have, I have no reason to believe that. The only thing I can do is interpret the language at face value. It’s a—it is a much more complex interpretation when you read it than either side presents it because one side presents it very much in one direction, the other side can present it in another direction. It’s a pretty balanced presentation that I think adds up to we better, long-term, be very, very cautious about Iran and we better keep the pressure on; otherwise, even they are only moderately confident that Iran has not gone back to the program of moving toward, you know, nuclear weapons.
MR. RUSSERT: Your best estimate as a potential commander in chief, how long will U.S. troops be in Iraq?
MR. GIULIANI: For as long as necessarily to get the strategic objective achieved. I mean, we, we, we have a strategic objective in Iraq, and sometimes we lose sight of that in light of all the politics that are surrounding it. Our strategic objective in Iraq is an Iraq that’s stable and an Iraq that will act as an ally of the United States in the ongoing Islamic terrorist effort war against us. That’s the strategic objective that would be in the best interest of the United States. I think every American would agree. Some think that that’s possible, some think that it’s impossible, but that’s certainly the best strategic objective.
Everything that I can see, information that I can get, tells me that our military, including General Petraeus, thinks that there’s still a chance we can achieve that objective. As long as there’s still a chance that we can achieve that objective, we should support it, Democrats and Republicans. I mean, what, what, what possible gain is there for any American—Republican or Democrat—if we lose in Iraq and have to bring the troops back in defeat.
MR. RUSSERT: But if there’s no...
MR. GIULIANI: That would be a gain, that would be a gain for the Islamic terrorist in their war against us.
MR. RUSSERT: If there’s no political reconciliation between the Shiites and the Sunnis and that becomes clear to you...
MR. GIULIANI: If, if it became clear to any president, Republican or Democrat, that the, the, the people in charge of the effort tell you, “Hey, Mr. President, we can’t accomplish this. This can’t get done. We’re just, we’re just, we’re just in a situation that is impossible to succeed,” I think any president would have to take that real seriously and start thinking about, well, how do we extricate ourselves from this.
MR. RUSSERT: But as of now...
MR. GIULIANI: That isn’t—but that...
MR. RUSSERT: ...as of now you’re, you’re prepared to spending more—several more years if necessary.
MR. GIULIANI: For now—I, I don’t think you put it—when has any country ever won a war with great pressure for time limits placed on the military while you are engaged in that war? I think there’s been a counterproductive thing done here that—if we had gone into any war with, you know, “You’ve got a year to do this, you got two years to do this, otherwise we’re going to give the enemy a timetable of our retreat,” you almost can’t succeed in that war. The enemy even figures out you can’t succeed, and they outlast you. So I think you have to say, and I think we should learn that from this experience we’ve gone through, where we’ve seen a lot of Democrats, like, in three or four different positions on this. I think we should learn from this that we should set a strategic objective, and we should support that strategic objective. When it becomes obvious to the military that we can’t succeed, or our review of it, then we shouldn’t. But as long as there’s a chance, we should support achieving that objective.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask you about terrorism. You were front and center on September 11th. You testified before the September 11th Commission, and there was an article recently in the Village Voice that cited some comments you made. I want to ask you about them: “Rudy Giuliani told an audience at Pat Robertson’s Regent University: ‘Bin Laden declared war on us. We didn’t hear it. I thought it was pretty clear at the time, but a lot of people didn’t see it, couldn’t see it.’ A 15-page ‘memorandum for the record,’ prepared by a 9/11 commission counsel and dated April 20, 2004, quotes Giuliani conceding that it wasn’t until ‘after’” September 11th “that ‘we brought in people to brief us on al-Qaeda.’ Asked about the ‘flow of information about al-Qaeda threats from 1998-2001,’ Giuliani said: ‘At the time, I wasn’t told it was al-Qaeda, but now that I look back at it, I think it was al-Qaeda.’”
That doesn’t seem someone who’s very aware of the al-Qaeda threat before September 11th.
MR. GIULIANI: I wasn’t very aware of it before September 11th. I, I knew about it in general. That’s what I was saying to the commission.
MR. RUSSERT: But they had been participants in the ‘93 World Trade Center bombing.
MR. GIULIANI: Right. I knew that.
MR. RUSSERT: In 1998, al-Qaeda declared war on the U.S.
MR. GIULIANI: I, I knew that.
MR. RUSSERT: But if you knew that, why weren’t you briefing your people and being more front and center on that issue?
MR. GIULIANI: Well, because I, I, I didn’t...
MR. RUSSERT: Of being prepared for it?
MR. GIULIANI: ...didn’t see the enormity of it. Neither did the administration at the time. My—I was, I was dependent on the briefings that I was getting from, from, from the administration, and they were not—I don’t think they saw the threat as big as it was, as, as, intense.
MR. RUSSERT: So when he declared war, you did not see it as clearly as you said you had?
MR. GIULIANI: I saw it, I read it, I understood that it was a problem. I never, I never envisioned the kind of attack that they did. If you ask me, well, what did I envision at the time, what I envisioned were the kind of suicide bombings that had gone on in, in Israel. I had been briefed on that. I had been warned about that. You might go back and look at what I did at the time. I closed off the area around the stock exchange, I closed off the area around the, around, around the courthouse. I closed the area around the mayor’s office. I was very criticized for that because they said, gee, I was trying to cut off access to City Hall. And I tried to explain, although you can’t give out all this information at the time, that I was being told to do that by the FBI, and I was being told to do that by, by the, by the New York Police Department. So I knew that level of threat. And in 2000, when we had our millennium celebration, I thought there was going to be a terrorist attack. And I think it—I was warned there may be. So you, you, you—I made extensive preparations to ward off a terrorist attack then. But I had no idea of the kind of level of attack that was in store for us. And that was, that was a surprise. And I told the commission that.
MR. RUSSERT: Iraq. The Iraq Study Group, headed by Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton, appointed you as a member. And then you quit. This is what Newsday wrote about that: “Giuliani’s membership on an elite,” excuse me. “Giuliani’s membership on a elite Iraq study panel came to an abrupt end in the spring of” ‘06 “after he failed to show up for a single official meeting of the group, causing the panel’s top Republican to give him a stark choice: either attend the meetings or quit. Giuliani left the Iraq Study Group in May of” ‘06 “after just two months, walking away from a chance to make up for his lack of foreign policy credentials on the top issue in the” ‘08 “race, the Iraq war. He cited ‘previous time commitments’ in a letter explaining his decision to quit, and a look at his schedule suggests why—the sessions at times conflicted with Giuliani’s lucrative speaking tour that garnered him $11.4 million in 14 months.” Showed “up for a pair of two-day sessions that occurred during his tenure” “both times, they conflicted with paid public appearances” “on his recent financial disclosure” form. He “quit the group during” the “busiest stretch in” ‘06, “when he gave 20 speeches in a single month that brought in $1.7 million.”
Why would you quit a panel looking and examining the Iraq Study Group, in order to make money from speeches?
MR. GIULIANI: Well, that isn’t, that isn’t exactly why I did it. The reality is, it was a mistake for me to be on the panel. I was a possible and more than possible presidential candidate. As I started to get involved the first month or so, I realized that this would be a, a terrible conflict; that this report—the report, after all, was going to get written six months to eight months to nine months later, right about the time that I might be announcing running for president. Wasn’t sure I was going to run, but I was thinking very seriously about it at the time. And it seemed to me that it would be a terrible mistake for me to be part of that panel. It would become very political; it would be very politicized. It was true, I was also trying to clean up a lot of commitments so that I might possibly be able to run. I was trying to get rid of commitments that I had already made. But if it hadn’t been for that conflict, I probably would have put aside those commitments and done it.
But just think about it. If I had stayed with the commission, and they had put out a report, and here I was, you know, that day, the day after or three weeks later going to announce for, for president, the entire proceedings would get infected by “This person is running. This is partisan. It may be partisan.” His own opinion is colored by that, their opinion is colored by it. As I looked at the commission, I realized that the people that were on the commission were exclusively people who had already had a political career, and none of them, at least foreseeably, was going to be running for office. So it seemed to me there was a mistake.
MR. RUSSERT: But you never mentioned presidential politics as a reason for leaving.
MR. GIULIANI: Well, actually, I did. I mean, in the discussions that I had internally, I mentioned the fact that I, I might be running for president and this would not be a good idea.
MR. RUSSERT: None of the...
MR. GIULIANI: I didn’t, I didn’t mention it...
MR. RUSSERT: None of the commissioners remember that.
MR. GIULIANI: I didn’t—I did have that discussion.
MR. RUSSERT: With whom?
MR. GIULIANI: I had that discussion with Jim Baker. I mention, I mentioned that to Jim. But also I mentioned the conflict and that I didn’t have enough time and that I really have to clean things up. Look, at the time I wasn’t sure I was running. At the time I didn’t want to make an announcement that I was running for president. If I had publicly announced I’m leaving because I’m running for president, I’d be running for president a lot earlier than I actually decided it. At the time, I had a pretty clear idea that I might be doing it, but I wasn’t absolutely sure. So I didn’t mention it as the primary reason, but I did mention it. And it was the thing that was very, very much on my mind.
MR. RUSSERT: The one thing that you did continue to participate in was your business. And I want to ask you some questions about that because it’s received a lot of discussion over the last few weeks, particularly. Your involvement with the country of Qatar.
MR. GIULIANI: Right.
MR. RUSSERT: And here’s an article that was written by The Wall Street Journal. “Giuliani could face questions about his business ties if he wins his party’s nomination. The Qatar contract offers a window into the” political “potential complications. While Qatar is a U.S. ally, it has drawn scrutiny for its involvement in the U.S. effort to combat terrorism. In” ‘96, “the FBI went to Qatar to arrest al-Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, then under indictment in New York for a plot to blow up U.S.-bound jetliners. But Mr. Mohammad slipped away, apparently tipped off by an al-Qaeda sympathizer in the Qatari government, U.S. officials told the bipartisan” September 11th “commission. Mr. Mohammad went on to mastermind the September 11th, 2001 attacks.”
Salon.com asked you this question: “Are you aware that the interior minister appointed in 2001 and reappointed this year by the emir of Qatar is Abdullah al-Thani, the former minister of Islamic affairs and a strict Wahhabi Muslim who has been identified in U.S. press and government reports as a protector of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?”
MR. GIULIANI: Am I aware of it?
MR. RUSSERT: Yes.
MR. GIULIANI: I—I’m, I’m aware of it now.
MR. RUSSERT: Why would you do business with people who helped Khalid Sheikh Mohammad?
MR. GIULIANI: The reality is that Qatar is an ally of the United States. There are a significant number of American troops that are stationed in Qatar. What we did for them and do for them is security for their facilities. And this is a country that is an ally of ours in the, in the, in the Middle East to the extent that it has a very significant number of American troops stationed there.
MR. RUSSERT: But the emir of Qatar praised Hezbollah for their victory over Israel in Lebanon.
MR. GIULIANI: The, the emir of Qatar also supports the United States, supported the United States, is one of our, one of our friends in the Middle East, is taking the grave risk—the country of Qatar is taking the grave risk of having American soldiers there. When you go to Qatar, when you go to Doha—and I have for security work—you see a significant number of young Americans there. If you walk the streets of Doha, you can meet them, you can talk to them. They need security; the government there needs security. We’re dealing with the same Islamic terrorist threat there as we do all over the world. It gave my company a great deal of expertise in Islamic terrorism, which is really necessary all over the world. So the reality is that we need to develop friends. We need to develop friends in the Middle East. We need...
MR. RUSSERT: Robert...
MR. GIULIANI: ...to, we need to develop friendships with the Emirates. We need to develop friendships with Qatar, with Kuwait. These are countries that we have to get closer to. We should trade more with them, we should be involved more with them as we stand up to Islamic terrorism. And if they—if they’re asking an American company to help them deal with the Islamic terrorist threat in a more secure way—and the people involved in this are people that are some of the biggest experts on Islamic terrorism who had been with the FBI. These are the people who are involved in this effort. This is a good thing to do. This is a thing that helps us kind of work on the other side of how do you remain on offense against Islamic terrorists?
MR. RUSSERT: Robert Baer, a CIA officer who had tracked Mohammad Khalid said that you are taking money from the same accounts that protected Khalid Sheikh Mohammad,
MR. GIULIANI: That’s...
MR. RUSSERT: ...who then went on to mastermind September 11th.
MR. GIULIANI: That’s, that’s just totally wrong, and, and it’s completely, it’s completely distorted. The relationship is not with any of those people. The relationship is with a, a ministry that does training...
MR. RUSSERT: Of the, of the interior.
MR. GIULIANI: No, it isn’t.
MR. RUSSERT: Which, which, which al-Thani is the head of.
MR. GIULIANI: It is not. The relationship is not like that.
MR. RUSSERT: No involvement with him at all?
MR. GIULIANI: We’ve never had any involvement with him at all of any kind. None of the people that work with me have, no involvement with him. We have had significant involvement—they have—with people in that government. And the purpose of it again, Tim, here’s the purpose of it, generally speaking, it’s to secure that country against attack by Islamic terrorists. This is a kind of relationship—I don’t just mean for, for my company now. I’m out, I’m out of the day-to-day operations of it. But this is the kind of relationship Americans want to have with Middle Eastern countries, working with them to protect them against possible Islamic threats. This is a country that’s modernizing. It’s a country that’s moving in a direction we want it to move in. Every single step like that in the Middle East is a dangerous step. You could look at the same kinds of things happening in the Emirates. And I’m somewhat familiar with that, also. This is the microcosm of what we need to happen in the rest of the Middle East, countries like the Emirates and Qatar have loosened a lot of the, lot of the things that we’re uncomfortable about. You and I can have dinner there. We can have dinner there, and we can dress normally. There’s no interference with the way in which we want to practice our religion or our customs or whatever. They’re moving in a direction that is a modernizing direction.
MR. RUSSERT: But...
MR. GIULIANI: That creates a threat. That creates a threat. They did have a bombing a while back, and what they want is American expertise, American help in how to deal with that threat with some people who have been—the people in the past, they’re now retired—who would track down some of these Islamic terrorists.
MR. RUSSERT: But it...
MR. GIULIANI: You know, kind of a very positive relationship.
MR. RUSSERT: People are calling into question your judgment. They also cite that your law firm, your law firm did work for Hugo Chavez, the head of Venezuela. They’ve now, they’ve now quit that, but they did represent Citgo, which is run by Hugo Chavez.
MR. GIULIANI: That’s, that’s a stretch.
MR. RUSSERT: It’s not!
MR. GIULIANI: No, no, no...
MR. RUSSERT: One more—no, one more and I’m going to give you a chance on this. One more. A Las Vegas developer that you worked with who had a close partnership with Hong Kong billionaire who was close to Kim Jong-Il. These are all accusations being made in a very serious way about your business.
MR. GIULIANI: Not serious. Right.
MR. RUSSERT: So in order to deal with all this, why not say to the American people, “These are all my clients. This is who I work for...”
MR. GIULIANI: Yes, I’ve...
MR. RUSSERT: “...so you can know who I’ve been involved with and who might be trying to influence me if I ever became president.”
MR. GIULIANI: OK. First, let me see if I can address both, both of those. The relationship you’re talking about with the, with the Singapore company, it’s a, it’s a partnership that this company had independent of what we were doing for them, and I think the person involved, if, if it’s correct, was a 1 percent owner that had no involvement with us, we never worked for, had nothing to do with. When you, when you deal with clients and you take on the problems of clients and you try to help them, it may be that somewhere, someplace they did something that was questionable or arguably questionable. These, these are things people aren’t even convicted of. So you can’t, you can’t vouch for every single thing they did. They thing that, the things we have done with them are honorable, ethical, useful and, and helpful.
MR. RUSSERT: Make your list...
MR. GIULIANI: Now, now...
MR. RUSSERT: ...public so people know who you...
MR. GIULIANI: OK, we’re going to get to that. We’re going to get to that. And what was the earlier one you asked me about?
MR. RUSSERT: Hugo Chavez.
MR. GIULIANI: Law firm did—never represented Hugo Chavez. They represented—wait, wait—they represented an American company, Citgo, in Texas, that employs maybe 100,000 people, 120,000 people, that sells gasoline, needs to comply with the law. They represented them just in Texas, and then they stopped representing them. And they—not a direct representation of Hugo Chavez. That’s a very unfair way to say it. This is an American company that, when you count out all the gas stations and everything else, the 125,000 Americans...
MR. RUSSERT: But you stopped doing it.
MR. GIULIANI: Only because these things are done in a very, very unfair way. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. So you want to know about my clients. Just about every single client of Giuliani Partners, which is my security company, has been discussed, has been examined, certainly every significant one. Law firm clients, the ones that I’ve been involved with, I think have been discussed. I can’t say. Now, why don’t you just put out a list of all of them. Because you have confidentiality agreements with clients. Clients come to a law firm—law firm is a bigger issue here than...
MR. RUSSERT: But I’m talking about your, let’s talk about your Giuliani Partners.
MR. GIULIANI: Consulting firm, just about every single client...
MR. RUSSERT: Why not put out a list to make people...
MR. GIULIANI: Because they’re, because they also have, in some cases, some have gotten out where there were confidentiality agreements, but they’ve gotten out for other reasons.
MR. RUSSERT: But you’re still receiving money from your firm.
MR. GIULIANI: But I’m not involved in the day-to-day operations. I’m an owner of the firm.
MR. RUSSERT: But you’re receiving money. If people could sign up to—for your company in order to influence you if you became president. Why not just sever ties and put out a list of all your clients?
MR. GIULIANI: Well, first of all, I, I, I couldn’t do that. I mean, I couldn’t put out a list of all my clients. There are confidentiality agreements that surround the relationship that businesses have with law firms, in particular, in some cases with security firms. So I can’t do that. All, all I can tell you is the following: I can tell you that every client of GP of any significance while I was there, while I was involved in the day-to-day, day-to-day operations of it has been discussed, significant number of the Bracewell, Giuliani clients have been discussed, and the reality is that none of them amount to anything other than ethical, lawful, decent work done by both companies, sometimes of the highest standards, always ethical and decent. And none of them involve any kind of conflict of any kind. And as we go along, we’ll explore more of it.
MR. RUSSERT: You won’t sever your ties, your financial ties with your company.
MR. GIULIANI: Well, I’m an owner. I mean, I’ve...
MR. RUSSERT: But while you’re, while you’re...
MR. GIULIANI: ...severed every—well, I’ve severed, I’ve severed every tie I can think of. I’ll live up to whatever ethical or legal obligations required. We do all the financial disclosures. I did a very complete financial disclosure, I think it was in May. I’ll do some more complete financial disclosures. But I’m, I’m not going to do more than what is absolutely required, and we’ll go further than that.
MR. RUSSERT: You ran for mayor, you released your tax returns. Would you do that?
MR. GIULIANI: At the right time. At the right time we’ll consider doing that.
MR. RUSSERT: What’s the right time?
MR. GIULIANI: The right time is not now. The right time is when we get to financial...
MR. RUSSERT: If you get nominated?
MR. GIULIANI: ...when we get to financial disclosure. We’ll see what is the appropriate financial disclosure. What have other people done? What are other people going to do? What is the right standard? Here’s the thing we will definitely do. We’ll obviously meet all of the standards that the law requires, and then we’ll take a look and see should we go beyond that? Is there a reason to go beyond that? And if there is, we will. The thing I will commit myself to, obviously, is meeting all the standards, which are pretty darned high. We will meet all of those, like everybody else has, and then we’ll take a look at what the right thing to do is.
MR. RUSSERT: We’re going to take a quick break. More of our discussion with Mayor Rudy Giuliani right after this.
MR. RUSSERT: More of our Meet the Candidates 2008 series. Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Republican candidate for president, after this.
MR. RUSSERT: And we’re back with Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York.
Another issue where your judgment has been questioned, Bernard Kerik, your police commissioner. Here’s how the Daily News reported it: “Bernard Kerik lied, schemed and sold out the city—all under the nose of his mentor and pal, presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. That is the stark portrait painted in the 16-count indictment unsealed in Federal Court. The indictment charges Kerik with conspiracy, tax fraud, making false statements” “depriving the city of his honest services. If convicted, he faces up to 142 years in prison” “up to $4.75 million in fines. The indictment starts in” ‘98, “after Giuliani made Kerik correction commissioner, continues through 2000, when he named him police commissioner, and ends in 2006.”
And there are reports, Mr. Mayor, that according to Mr. Kuriansky, involved in the city investigative unit, that he briefed you and Dennison Young about Bernard Kerik and his relationship with Lawrence Ray before you appointed him police commissioner, and there are documents that demonstrate this. Mr. Ray, as you well know, was the best man for Bernard Kerik, had been indicted for his involvement in a company called Interstate Industrial. Do you recall the warning you were given about Mr. Kerik?
MR. GIULIANI: I don’t. I don’t, and, and I’ll explain it to you. First of all, this is very, you know, this is a very tragic and terrible situation for everybody. Now, the reality is I made a mistake. I made a mistake in not vetting him carefully enough. And it’s my responsibility; I should have. And I’ve appointed hundreds, thousands of people; to that level, probably hundreds of people, and I have made few mistakes. Most of them have been correct, most of them have been outstanding people. Most of them have been outstanding enough to get exceptional results with their services—reducing crime or reducing welfare, turning around the city of New York, prosecuting organized crime, prosecuting white collar crime. So I think my judgment on appointments turns out to almost always be very good, with, unfortunately, some mistakes that I’ve made. This is one of them, and I’m really sorry for it and have, and have learned from it.
On the other side, Bernard Kerik’s public performance, meaning as corrections commissioner, as police commissioner was excellent. He reduced—helped to reduce violence in the city jails by 70, 80 percent. “60 Minutes” did a whole piece on how he had—he and his team had turned New York City jails into one of the safest in the country. He reduced crime in New York. He was a hero in every respect on September 11 and in the days after that. I watched him—we were trapped in a building together, I watched him operate. There was this other thing going on that I should have known about. I take responsibility for it. I should have figured it out, and I’ve learned from it and will not make that mistake in the future.
With regard to the, the, the briefing, Ed—who, tragically, has passed away from, from cancer, and was a close friend of mine for many, many years; we were assisting U.S. attorneys together—told me that he had, had some recollection of briefing me on this. He also told me that he had cleared Bernard Kerik for the appointment, as well as the other person that was going to be appointed. And that it may be that because he had cleared him that it’s something that I don’t recall clearly. He is—he was not sure whether he briefed me or not, he just said he had a note—here’s the—when you say there’s evidence to suggest this, here’s what it is: it’s a, it’s a notation of an upcoming meeting that has his initials, my initials, Dennison Young’s initials and some notation about Ray and a company called Interstate, to brief me. The question is, did he or didn’t he? I don’t remember it. Dennison Young...
MR. RUSSERT: He says he—he said he did.
MR. GIULIANI: No, what he said is, when he looked—first of all, he said he didn’t remember it. That was his first recollection. Wait, wait, this is important...
MR. RUSSERT: Yep.
MR. GIULIANI: ...we get it right. He first said that he didn’t remember briefing me. Then when he saw his notes, the note that I just described, he said “I must have because I have these notes here.” We talked about it. He thinks he must have because of the notes there. I don’t remember him doing it. Dennison Young doesn’t remember him doing it. He does remember, however, that he did tell us that Bernard Kerik was clear to be appointed. In other words, he was, he was—there was no ethical reason why he shouldn’t be appointed. And then we, we went ahead and did it. I think if I had of known that, I wouldn’t have appointed him. But that’s—I mean, that’s, that’s, that’s the honest recollection that everybody has of it.
MR. RUSSERT: But that was for policeman commissioner. When you recommended to the president of the United States in 2004 that Bernard Kerik be the secretary of homeland security...
MR. GIULIANI: Right.
MR. RUSSERT: ...the number one position in this country to fight terrorism, you knew at that time that Lawrence Ray had been indicted, had pleaded guilty. There was a lot of information available.
MR. GIULIANI: Right. I did—this is—that...
MR. RUSSERT: You knew none of that?
MR. GIULIANI: Was it available? Sure, it was available. I didn’t find it, which is what—why I made a mistake. I should’ve checked that, you’re absolutely right. I mean, I—when that happened...
MR. RUSSERT: Did you place personal loyalty over integrity?
MR. GIULIANI: No, I did not. I didn’t—I would never, I would never do that. I—what I did, here’s what I did do wrong. You want—the mistake was, I should have checked it out much more carefully before he went forward for any of these positions. And I didn’t. I didn’t check it out carefully enough. I should’ve done that. I usually do, and 95, 98, 99 percent of the times I’ve gotten it right. Gosh, I made a mistake. I, I learned from it. In the future, I’ll be much more careful about it. I should’ve checked him out much more carefully, and I didn’t.
MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Kerik at the time was also having an affair with Judith Regan, his publisher, and were using an apartment that had been donated as a haven for rescue and recovery workers from the September 11th site at World Trade Center. Were you aware of that?
MR. GIULIANI: First of all, it’s an allegation, so I, I can’t tell you if it’s true or not, but the reality is I wasn’t aware of it either way.
MR. RUSSERT: In any way, shape or form?
MR. GIULIANI: Any way, shape or form. I had no knowledge of that, and now I...
MR. RUSSERT: But today you regret, you regret...
MR. GIULIANI: That isn’t necessarily what I found out. What I’m talking about—I don’t know whether I would’ve found that out or not, because I don’t know whether it’s true or not—but...
MR. RUSSERT: You didn’t know of his relationship with Judith Regan?
MR. GIULIANI: I, I knew she was his publisher. I didn’t know the rest of it. But the reality is I should’ve found out the other facts that you’re talking about. Some of these facts are allegations. I guess we’ll find out at some point if they’re true or not. But there were enough facts known where I should not have recommended him. I should’ve found them out. It was my fault. I take responsibility for it. It wasn’t any of the people that worked for me, it was my fault.
MR. RUSSERT: That’s a big misjudgment to make when you recommend someone to the president for that kind of a sensitive job.
MR. GIULIANI: Well, look, I’ve, I’ve recommended and appointed thousands of people over the years. So I think the way you find out is my judgment generally very good and sometimes bad, like any other human being is, what kind of results have I gotten with the people that I appointed? How, how could I have mostly bad judgment about people and have reduced crime in New York by 60 percent? How can I, how can I not have pretty good judgment about the people who work for me and not been able to turn around the United States attorney’s office or do the turnaround of New York City or be successful in, in business? So the reality is—and I, I write about this in my book—I know my judgment is not going to be 100 percent correct. You try to get to 100 percent. It’s been correct enough so that I’ve had a great deal of success, I’ve been able to deal with crises very effectively, and I’ve been able to turn things around that other people haven’t been able to turn around. It doesn’t mean that I can’t make—as one of my predecessors, Fiorello LaGuardia, used to say, he used to say, “I don’t make many mistakes, but when I make them, they’re big ones.”
MR. RUSSERT: Also has been questioned, criticisms about your security details for your then-girlfriend Judi Nathan. Here’s a photograph of her walking her dog being escorted by a New York City policeman. This headline in the Daily News now with “New questions over” “security” details “for Rudy’s girlfriend, driving Miss Judi.” Bernard Kerik had said that there had been no police protecting Miss Nathan until December 2000. Now your folks have told the Daily News that, in fact, there was some security before that date. Why was it appropriate for you to give...
MR. GIULIANI: I...
MR. RUSSERT: ...taxpayer-funded security to your girlfriend?
MR. GIULIANI: Well, Tim, for many years, I’ve had to live with security.
MR. RUSSERT: This is not for you. This is for her.
MR. GIULIANI: Well, this is—let, let me explain because it has something to—it all has to do with me. All of this came about because of me, and all of it came about because of the work that I did. I’ve had security on and off for over 20 years. It’s not something I asked for, it’s not something you particularly want, it’s not something she would want. This comes about because of threats, and people threaten to kill you , people threaten to harm you. I had these threats back when I was the United States attorney. There was a revelation in court of one that had been secret for a long time. I don’t, I don’t talk, talk about them. I’m—this is a part of my profession also, evaluating threats. And the reality is that my family has been subjected to threats, my loved ones have been subjected to threats, my assistants have been subjected to threats. When they happen, I have—I handle them in a professional way. If they’re threats about other people, I’ll make the evaluation of it. If it’s a threat about me or somebody I love or somebody that’s close to me, I turn it over to professionals to evaluate. I’ve, I’ve been fortunate to have very good professionals that have taken care of these threats for me, for my family and for my loved ones—United States marshals, when I was United States attorney, the New York City Police Department. Every single thing done here was done based upon the assessment of someone else that this was necessary. They made the choice. My wife, Judith, honestly, would prefer not to have to have security.
MR. RUSSERT: But let me ask you...
MR. GIULIANI: She doesn’t want to—she’s doesn’t want to live with, with these threats.
MR. RUSSERT: But this, this was when, this was when no one knew she was your girlfriend. This was before September 11th, 2001. There were—no one knew who she was.
MR. GIULIANI: They were—well, first of all, that isn’t correct. Secondly, these were all based upon threat assessments made by the New York City Police Department and all based on their analysis of what was necessary to protect her life, my life, other people’s lives.
MR. RUSSERT: Before it was known that you were even dating her, there were threats against her?
MR. GIULIANI: The threats were—the threats were after. The threats were after.
MR. RUSSERT: But this protection was...
MR. GIULIANI: No it wasn’t. You got it all—no, it wasn’t.
MR. RUSSERT: Bernard Kerik, police commissioner, said there was no protection given before December 2000, and that is not a true statement.
MR. GIULIANI: No, but, Tim, our, our relationship became public in May of 2000. So when he said before 2000 is a whole big portion of 2000 where our relationship was public, there were threats, they had to be responded to. The police department did every single thing that was done for Judith, or for me, or for anybody else close to me, was based upon threat assessments made by other people who are professionals here, and they’ve made it very clear that that, that that’s the case. And this is beyond any doubt the way it was done.
MR. RUSSERT: Using that reasoning, would it be appropriate for a president to provide Secret Service protection for his mistress?
MR. GIULIANI: It would not be appropriate to, to do it for that reason, Tim, and that isn’t, that, that isn’t the right way to—you know, that isn’t the right way to, to analyze it or to say this. The reason it’s done is because somebody threatens to do harm, and the people who assess it come to the conclusion that it is necessary to do this. The reality is that it all came about because of my public position, because of the fact that when people are public or celebrities these kinds of threats take place. And the New York City Police Department has rules; they applied the rules, they applied them in exactly the same way as they always apply them. I did not make the judgment. I didn’t ask for it. Judith didn’t particularly want it, but it was done because they took the view that it was serious and it had to be done this way. And it was done the way they wanted to do it.
In fact, when you get security like this—and many people think, you know, this is a great convenience. And, and this is not at all to suggest that I don’t have great respect for the processionals who do this. Honestly, Tim, I know how it gets played in the media. This is not something you would want. You would not want to have this security, because it is coming about because somebody has threatened to do terrible things to you or your family and professionals have evaluated it that way and feel you need the security. And you say to them, “Can I do this? Can I do that? Can I go here? Can I go there?” And they tell you, “No, you can’t.” So this is not something—I know how it gets played, but this is not something that anybody ever desires. I remember the first time it happened with me. I mean, the things that I liked to do, I couldn’t, I couldn’t do any more, because they would tell me “You can’t do it this way. You have to do it another way.”
MR. RUSSERT: We’re going to have to take another quick break.
MR. GIULIANI: Thank you.
MR. RUSSERT: More of our discussion with Mayor Rudy Giuliani right after this.
MR. RUSSERT: And we’re back. Our remaining minutes with Rudy Giuliani.
Mike Huckabee, leading the field in Iowa, told the Associated Press back in the ‘90s that AIDS patients should be quarantined and that “homosexuality was aberrant, unnatural and a sinful lifestyle.” What’s your reaction?
MR. GIULIANI: My reaction is that I haven’t seen—on the second of that, I haven’t seen Mike’s comment. The first one I think he says that he didn’t have the information, that he’s changed his mind about it, it’s not his current position. Look, I got enough of my own statements and issues, as we’ve seen, that I have to deal with. I think Mike has to...
MR. RUSSERT: But you don’t believe homosexuality is aberrant...
MR. GIULIANI: Oh, no, no, no.
MR. RUSSERT: ...unnatural or sinful.
MR. GIULIANI: My, my, my—no, I don’t believe it’s sinful. My, my moral views on this come from the, you know, from the Catholic Church, and I believe that homosexuality, heterosexuality as a, as a way that somebody leads their life is not—isn’t sinful. It’s the acts, it’s the various acts that people perform that are sinful, not the—not the orientation that they have.
MR. RUSSERT: The Congress is discussing and...
MR. GIULIANI: Which includes me, by the way. I mean, you know, unfortunately, I’ve had my own sins that I’ve had to confess and had to deal with and try to overcome and so I’m very, very empathetic with people, and that we’re all, we’re all imperfect human beings struggling to, to try to be better.
MR. RUSSERT: Congress—the House has passed an energy bill which would mandate 35 miles per gallon per automobiles by the year 2020. Would you support that?
MR. GIULIANI: That isn’t the way I think it should be done. I think what we should be doing is developing the alternatives so it’s possible to accomplish that as opposed to just setting mandates and not having the support there for expansion of hybrid vehicles, expansion of biofuels, including ethanol. Expansion...
MR. RUSSERT: But you’re against increasing miles per gallon.
MR. GIULIANI: I would not do it that way, yes. I would do it with heavy expansion of hybrid vehicles, which move some of the sources over to electricity, then deal with clean coal, nuclear power, hybrid vehicles, expansion of hydroelectric power, more oil refineries, more domestic oil. All of those things are the things that we should be supporting. And we should be selling that to the, to the rest of the world, because if, if—no matter what we do, if China and India and these other countries that are developing don’t start to get control on this, it’s going to wipe out any good that we do. So the real emphasis here should be on developing energy independence and creating these alternative industries.
MR. RUSSERT: Would you pledge to balance the budget if you were elected president?
MR. GIULIANI: Sure, I would make the goal—I would make it a goal of...
MR. RUSSERT: But not a pledge.
MR. GIULIANI: I don’t do pledges. I didn’t do a pledge on taxes. I stated my intention. I said my intention is to lower taxes. I have a record of lowering taxes. My intention would be to balance the budget. I have a record of eight balanced budgets in a city where we had some serious economic and financial difficulties at various times, and we figured out a way to balance the budget. So I have a really good record on that.
MR. RUSSERT: Now, you have been well known as a New York Yankee fan. However, we have done our research.
MR. GIULIANI: Oh, my goodness.
MR. RUSSERT: This is Rudy Giuliani as a young man wearing a Red Sox uniform.
MR. GIULIANI: You caught me.
MR. RUSSERT: You were a Red Sox fan before you were a Yankee fan.
MR. GIULIANI: I played on a Little League team that was called the Red Sox. And I’m going to tell you—I don’t know if you have the picture—I also played on a Little League team—and that was, that was not the tough one then. I played on a Little League team called the Dodgers also, which caused me a lot, a lot of grief with my Yankee fans. But, but I was—it was one of the happiest parts of my life when I played Little League.
MR. RUSSERT: I won’t show you the pictures from the Inner Circle dinner with the wig on.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani, we’re out of time. Be safe on the campaign trail.
MR. GIULIANI: Thanks, Tim. Thank you.
MR. RUSSERT: And as part of our Meet the Candidates 2008 series we’ve invited all the major candidates for president to appear here for an in-depth interview. Next Sunday, Republican candidate Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, will be here for the full hour. That’s next Sunday, Mitt Romney, here for his first appearance on MEET THE PRESS.
We’re also archiving the transcripts and videos of our entire series on our Web site. Voters can review the candidates’ responses and positions throughout the campaign. We’ve posted the full results of the new MSNBC Mason-Dixon poll on our Web site as well. Click on Firstread link at mtp.msnbc.com.
That’s all for today. We’ll be back next week. If it’s Sunday, it’s MEET THE PRESS.