Rudy and Donald first got together in the late 1980s shortly before Donald became a co-chair of Giuliani's first fundraiser for his 1989 mayoral campaign, sitting on the Waldorf dais and steering $41,000 to the campaign. A year earlier, Tony Lombardi, the federal agent closest to then-U.S. Attorney Giuliani, opened a probe of Trump's role in the suspect sale of two Trump Tower apartments to Robert Hopkins, the mob-connected head of the city's largest gambling ring.
Trump attended the closing himself and Hopkins arrived with a briefcase loaded with up to $200,000 in cash, a deposit the soon-to-felon counted at the table. Despite Hopkins' wholesale lack of verifiable income or assets, he got a loan from a Jersey bank that did business with Trump's casino. A Trump limo delivered the cash to the bank.
The government subsequently nailed Hopkins' mortgage broker, Frank LaMagra, on an unrelated charge and he offered to give up Donald, claiming Trump "participated" in the money-laundering — and volunteering to wear a wire on him.
Instead, Lombardi, who discussed the case with Giuliani personally (and with me for a 1993 Village Voice piece called "The Case of the Missing Case"), went straight to Donald for two hour-long interviews with him. Within weeks of the interviews, Donald announced he'd raise $2 million in a half hour if Rudy ran for mayor. Lamagra got no deal and was convicted, as was his mob associate, Louis (Louie HaHa) Attanasio, who was later also nailed for seven underworld murders. Hopkins was convicted of running his gambling operation partly out of the Trump Tower apartment, where he was arrested.
Lombardi — who expected a top appointment in a Giuliani mayoralty, conducted several other probes directly tied to Giuliani political opponents, and testified later that "every day I came to work I went to Mr. Giuliani to seek out what duties I needed to perform" — closed the Trump investigation without even giving it a case number. That meant that New Jersey gaming authorities would never know it existed.
It's hard to watch Giuliani invoke his 14-year history as a federal prosecutor when he calls for Clinton's prosecution and square it with the seedy launch of his own relationship with Trump.
When Rudy was mayor, Trump hired the lobbying firm that included name partner Ray Harding, the head of the state's Liberal Party, whose ballot line had provided the margin of difference in Giuliani's 1993 election. Harding's firm quickly went from three lobbying clients to 92, and it steered the controversial, 90-story Trump World Tower, the tallest residential tower in city history, through three levels of Giuliani administration approvals despite loud opposition from community groups led by Walter Cronkite.
Both Harding and his son, a top Giuliani official, wound up felons. His other son, Robert Harding, a Giuliani deputy mayor, has long been a lobbyist at Rudy's current employer, Greenberg.