Fox News Floats Giuliani for Attorney General, Completely Ignores His Record

Joining others in right-wing media, Fox News is using the GOP convention as an opportunity to push preferred candidates for Mitt Romney's cabinet. For example, on the August 29 edition of Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson promoted the prospect of Rudolph Giuliani serving as Attorney General in a Romney administration. However, in their endorsement of Giuliani for the position of the nation's chief law enforcement officer and legal advisor, the Fox News hosts did not mention Giuliani's patronage of convicted former Department of Homeland Security nominee Bernard Kerik, or Giuliani's questionable record on the protection of civil rights and liberties as Mayor of New York City.

The spectacular rise and fall of Kerik, who served as NYC police commissioner under Giuliani, is well-documented, as is Giuliani's prominent assistance in the furtherance of Kerik's career. So too is Giuliani's surprising inability to recall investigations conducted by his subordinates into parts of a "10-year pattern of corruption and obstruction of justice," centering on his protégée's relationship with companies "tie[d] to organized crime." Because conservative media has dedicated extensive coverage  to Congress' investigations into the current Attorney General's supposed role in the Fast and Furious operation, it would seem relevant to discuss the fact that Kerik ultimately pled guilty to eight felonies committed during Giuliani's administration. As reported by The New York Times:

Mr. Giuliani defended Mr. Kerik, a friend and business partner, whom he had recommended to the Bush administration. But he also tried to shield himself from accusations that he had ignored Mr. Kerik's failings.

“I was not informed of it,” Mr. Giuliani said then, when asked if he had been warned about Mr. Kerik's relationship with [a company with links to organized crime] before appointing him to the police post in 2000.

Mr. Giuliani amended that statement last year in testimony to a state grand jury. He acknowledged that the city investigations commissioner, Edward J. Kuriansky, had told him that he had been briefed at least once. The former mayor said, though, that neither he nor any of his aides could recall being briefed about Mr. Kerik's involvement with the company.

But a review of Mr. Kuriansky's diaries, and investigators' notes from a 2004 interview with him, now indicate that such a session indeed took place. What is more, Mr. Kuriansky also recalled briefing one of Mr. Giuliani's closest aides, Dennison Young Jr., about Mr. Kerik's entanglements with the company just days before the police appointment, according to the diaries he compiled at the time and his later recollection to the investigators.

The additional evidence raises questions not only about the precision of Mr. Giuliani's recollection, but also about how a man who proclaims his ability to pick leaders came to overlook a jumble of disturbing information about Mr. Kerik, even as he pushed him for two crucial government positions.

Beyond his association with Kerik, however, it is Giuliani's association with constitutional law, both state and federal, that would have been important context for Fox's endorsement of his suitability to represent the United States in legal matters. As Attorney General, he would oversee the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, the country's premier agency dedicated to racial justice, but his record on civil rights indicates a Giuliani Department of Justice might not fulfill its historic role for communities of color.

As Mayor, not only did Giuliani pointedly refuse to interact with the city's elected African-American leaders, he aggressively dismantled equal opportunity programs in both the awarding of city contracts and in the staffing of the New York City police force, an opposition to race-conscious programs that likely explains his later endorsement from anti-affirmative action advocates. This appearance of a lack of concern for civil rights was furthered by his self-admittedly inappropriate responses to fatal mistakes of his administration's aggressive stop-and-frisk policing, a policy whose legacy is currently being challenged in a massive civil rights class action lawsuit for its unjustified disproportionate impact on communities of color.

Giuliani's record on civil liberties was at odds with precedent as well. In high-profile case after case, Giuliani was willing to challenge the free speech rights of those he disagreed with, despite case law to the contrary. As reported after he unsuccessfully attempted to be appointed to a third term in violation of the city charter:

The suppression of dissent, or of anything that irked the mayor, became a familiar theme. The administration delayed and blocked permits for various organized protests. It sought to cut off money to the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and tried to block bus advertisements saying that New York magazine was ''possibly the only good thing in New York Rudy hasn't taken credit for.'' The administration also blocked access to the steps of City Hall for what it maintained were security concerns, until a federal court ruled that the city was violating the constitutional right of assembly. The steps, historically, have been a ''democratic bazaar,'' Mr. Russianoff said.

Disregard for civil liberties was part of stop-and-frisk policing as well, and Giuliani has hinted his lack of concern for this area of constitutional law might trace back to his earlier stint as a U.S. Attorney. Although the civil rights impact of stop-and-frisk was already apparent during his mayoralty, original criticism  of the policy focused on the possible Fourth Amendment violations of unreasonable search and seizures. Indeed, the "surge" of flawed arrests and investigations of Giuliani's police department indicated a serious failure to uphold civil liberties during his leadership. As reported by The New York Times in 1999:

Though crime in the city has ebbed to historic lows, the New York City police arrested more people than ever last year. The inevitable result, courthouse lawyers and some former prosecutors say, is a surge in the number of flawed arrests. More and more of those arrested, like Mr. Joseph, were jailed and released without ever having been formally charged with a crime.


''The question has to be asked about why they are turning away so many more people in the courts,'' said William J. Bratton, the former Police Commissioner, who is increasingly critical of the assertive policing policies he helped put in place five years ago. ''If an increasing number of arrests are not leading to meaningful prosecution, that's something you have to watch for in terms of managing the department.''

Prosecutors say refusals to prosecute can indicate the quality of arrests. ''It's a test of the evidence,'' Mr. Vecchione of Brooklyn said. ''The arrest that comes in is lacking in some way -- the evidence is not sufficient to support the charge, or the search is a bad search and therefore would not withstand scrutiny.''

Like the Kerik story, none of Giuliani's record on civil rights and liberties was mentioned by the Fox & Friends cabinet push. But it is a major component of his resume, and one he readily acknowledges. In 2001, after another instance wherein Giuliani was accused of unilaterally violating city law, he replied: “Look, everything I've done in seven and a half years somebody has sued me for. I would have felt like I had done the wrong thing if somebody hadn't sued me for this.”

That's a peculiar - and newsworthy -- platform for a proposed Attorney General of the United States.