There was a time when Rudy Giuliani was a sort of “Shell Answer Man” for ethics. Like the man who answered questions about driving in the oil-company commercials, Giuliani was the authoritative voice in New York on ethical standards in politics and finance. As the U.S. attorney in Manhattan in the 1980s, he had the power to back up his call for raising ethical standards and was nationally celebrated for his cases against crooked Wall Streeters, corrupt politicians, and mobsters.
When he ran for mayor of New York City, raising the level of ethics in government became the cornerstone of his campaign. He called for ethics to be better taught in law and business schools, and in elementary schools as well. He recommended that Greek philosophy be taught in high schools. “Institutions—such as the family, the church, and the community—that we used to rely on to teach ethics at an early age…aren’t as readily available for our children, whether they're poor, middle-class, or wealthy,” he said in an interview with New York’s Newsday.
Three decades later, Giuliani is defining ethical deviancy downward in an attempt to protect his legal client, President Donald Trump. In a December 2 tweet, Giuliani derided special counsel Robert Mueller for bringing “process cases”—cases that involve lying in sworn testimony or in interviews with federal agents. He pointed to lawyer Michael Cohen’s guilty plea to making false statements to Congress as an example of a “process case,” explaining, “These cases, and all so far, demonstrate no evidence of Trump collusion.”
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