by Nicholas Goldberg
America’s slime and sleaze level rose still higher this week.
Even to those of us who aren’t squeamish or easily shocked, the new lawsuit filed against Rudolph W. Giuliani is ugly and sordid.
On the heels of the E. Jean Carroll case — in which former President Donald Trump was graphically accused of rape and held liable by a jury for sexual abuse — comes Noelle Dunphy with a set of detailed allegations about Trump’s onetime personal lawyer, the man once known and admired as “America’s Mayor.”
Dunphy’s allegations are, if possible, even more creepy and unsavory than the ones Trump just faced. We’re not talking funny stuff about how Giuliani’s hair dye runs down the side of his face or how he once accidentally scheduled a press conference at a landscaping business next to a sex shop. He’s no longer just a pathetic aging figure targeted in a Borat movie.
Dunphy claims in court papers that she worked for Giuliani as an off-the-books employee beginning in 2019. She alleges a long list of serious misbehavior — that he forced her to have sex, subjected her to “alcohol-drenched rants that included sexist, racist and antisemitic remarks” and failed to pay her the wages she was owed.
Dunphy’s 70-page filing, in which she asks for $10 million in compensation and damages, contains allegations that Giuliani forced her to perform oral sex on him in his apartment while he talked on the telephone — to Trump, among others. She says Giuliani “made clear that satisfying his sexual demands — which came virtually anytime, anywhere — was an absolute requirement of her employment.”
He also allegedly told her he was selling federal pardons for $2 million and splitting the money with the former president. (That jibes with an allegation made previously by a pardon-seeker in the final days of the Trump administration.)
Dunphy says she has audiotapes that back up some of her allegations.
What are we to make of this lawsuit? Just because Dunphy alleges these things certainly doesn’t make them true. We haven’t seen her evidence; the Associated Press asked to hear the tapes, but the tapes were not forthcoming. The suit is not a criminal case brought by a prosecutor based on thorough police work or a grand jury indictment. At the moment, it’s just one woman’s say-so. Maybe she’s making it up and hoping she can get a jury to believe her.
Or maybe she’s not.
Giuliani’s immediate response to the lawsuit was to have his spokespeople “vehemently” deny the allegations. But a representative acknowledged that Giuliani dated Dunphy for a while, according to the New York Daily News. Furthermore, if she has tapes, Giuliani’s people said, “they were obtained illegally” — which is different from saying they’re fake or misleading.
As for the implication that she was sexually harassed on the job or the victim of wage theft, they say she was never an employee at all.
Regardless of who is telling the truth, though, it is getting tiresome being held hostage to the puerile tabloid-cover scandals of Trump and his coterie. The U.S., once respected for its democratic process and ideals, is now shocking the world on a regular basis with its seamy, sex-fueled soap operas.
Of course, sexual misconduct is not confined to Republicans or to Trump and his ilk. We’ve seen enough since the start of the #MeToo movement to know that sexual harassment and sexual assault go on in the humblest of workplaces and the grandest corporate suites and are bipartisan in government and politics. Bill Clinton’s presidency was famous for its sex scandal.
But the Trump era has been something special. We were warned that it would be, even before the 2016 election. We knew about the “Access Hollywood” “grab ‘em by the pussy” tape. More than a dozen women accused Trump of sexual misconduct before or during his campaign. We elected him anyway.
As for Dunphy’s allegations, they’re just the latest in a long line of head-shaking Giuliani developments. The man who once led New York City’s brave response to the 9/11 attack has become a parody of himself. He’s made many mistakes, but he harmed his reputation most severely when he agreed to be Trump’s pit bull and chief public election denier. Ultimately, he had his license to practice law suspended by a New York court for his “demonstrably false and misleading statements” regarding the 2020 election.
Dunphy, for what it’s worth, has something to say about that too. She alleges that Giuliani told her in advance of November 2020 that if Trump lost the race, his team planned to claim there was “voter fraud” and that Trump, in fact, had won.
Is that true? Are any of her claims true? We’ll find out, I hope. Either way, our country will look a little bit worse to the rest of the world.