President Donald Trump will emphasize the U.S. commitment to NATO in his upcoming trip to Eastern Europe and plans to “assure” the countries bordering Russia that “the United States is there to support them," said former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, speaking in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. Giuliani, a Trump loyalist who currently serves in an informal role as the president’s cybersecurity adviser, also said that "all this nonsense about Putin, and some kind of involvement with Putin, is exactly that — nonsense.”
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The former mayor said he would be accompanying Trump on the July 5 trip, where the U.S. president is expected to give a speech in Poland and meet with the leaders of eastern and central European countries at the Three Seas Initiative Summit. In Poland, Giuliani said, Trump will “speak to basically all of those countries that are right on the Soviet border — Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland” and assuage any doubts they may have about the U.S. leader.
Trump, he stressed, “wants them to know how much we are there and how much we have increased our commitment to NATO.”
Giuliani pointed out that “The president of the United States doesn’t even have an option. In the U.S., our treaties are our laws and if you don’t follow them, you violate the law and can be removed from office.”
On Trump’s second stop, the G-20 summit in Germany, Giuliani said Trump will continue pressing Western European countries on the issue of financial participation in NATO. “I’m sure they are going to be angry at them because he’s going to explain to them: Pay your bills. You haven’t been paying your 2% for years. The one thing he is: He’s a good bill collector. That’s how he got so rich.”
Giuliani made his remarks to the Tel Aviv International Salon for young professionals in Tel Aviv at Israel’s stock exchange, where he was invited to ring the opening bell while in the city for Cyber Week, an annual cybersecurity conference. Giuliani, a visible surrogate throughout the 2016 presidential campaign and transition, was passed over for several high-level administration jobs he sought, from attorney general to secretary of state. Instead, Giuliani has remained in the private sector, at the law firm of Greenberg Trauriq where he serves as a Senior Advisor to Greenberg Traurig’s Executive Chairman and as Chair of Cybersecurity, Privacy and Crisis Management Practice for the firm. He said one of the reasons he chose the firm was because it was the “only international law firm with an office in Tel Aviv” and praised Israel’s “capitalist free market economy” and said it was “one of the most innovative countries in the world” with “cutting edge technology in cybersecurity.”
When asked by Haaretz whether he was concerned about the cloud of Russian cyberattacks that hung over the 2016 elections, he responded that he was “very worried - but I’m worried about it at two different levels and one is a more intense worry than the other.”
He said he was less worried about the Wikileaks brand of cyber-interference involving “the hacking of politicians, the exposure of secrets, the exposure of their secret conversations” which he said was “criminal and terrible” but a risk of the modern age. “I mean, after all, newspapers try to get that information all the time if they can and when they do get it, even if they get it illegally, they publish it.” He said with a grin that this form of threat meant “that political figures - parties and individuals better hire me for cybersecurity because otherwise you’re in a lot of trouble.”
Giuliani said that what “troubles him more” is the prospect of cyberattacks aimed at manipulating the vote count. “As far as we can tell, no one was able to interfere with our election in that way." He added that as an extra precaution there must be a written record of the vote, as in the state of New York, to enable authorities to check for signs of interference.
“I think that in the next American election in 2018 there should be a written back-up so that if there’s any suggestion that there was a cyber–interference in the count, you can check,” Giuliani said, for “every important upcoming race.”
He stressed that “although American intelligence services have come to the conclusion that the Russians attempted to interfere with the election by hacking some of the politicians and putting out what is regarded as negative information about them there was no evidence they were able to interfere in the actual vote count.”
While his visit to Israel was in a private capacity, Giuliani referred frequently to President Trump in response to the questions posed to him at the event. Asked about his views on leadership — the topic of his 2002 book — the former mayor used the U.S. president as an example.
“It is very valuable that President Trump says we want to defeat Islamic extremist terrorists. People say they are just words. No, they’re not. They are a direction to an army of 1.8 million people. I worked for President Ronald Reagan. He had a goal — destroying Communism. People said he was foolish. They thought he was crazy, he was nuts.”
Giuliani, who served as associate attorney general under Reagan, said that Israelis “should be grateful” to the late president for his insistence on pursuing the Strategic Defense Initiative which, he said paved the way for the development of missile defense systems like the Iron Dome.