CHARLESTON, S.C. – Rudy Giuliani on Friday offered his strongest defense yet of Bernard Kerik, his former close associate and top New York City cop now targeted in a federal criminal probe, calling him an “excellent police commissioner” and praising him for being courageous on Sept. 11, 2001.
Kerik is facing possible bribery and obstruction of justice charges as soon as next month. Giuliani rejected the idea those charges would harm his campaign and said on balance Kerik had done a good job.
Giuliani also tried to extend the aura and celebrity that he won for his performance on the day of the deadly terrorist attacks on New York City to Kerik, his handpicked protege.
“He was there on Sept. 11,” Giuliani said. “He was heroic on Sept. 11.”
For Giuliani, Kerik completes a “trifecta” of political problems that pose serious obstacles to his hopes of winning the nomination, said political analyst Stu Rothenberg — raising yet another question about Giuliani’s judgment among Republicans already fretting over his moderate social positions and messy personal life.
And even if Giuliani won the nomination, any Kerik trial could stretch well into next year. Giuliani “wants to talk about Hillary Clinton and the war on terror, and if every day for a week, he’s getting questions about Bernie Kerik … that’s obviously not what Rudy wants to be talking about,” Rothenberg said.
Giuliani has admitted he made a mistake in recommending Kerik to President George W. Bush for homeland security chief in 2004. Kerik withdrew amid allegations of misconduct, a major embarrassment to Bush.