How Rudy Giuliani is Helping Putin & Trump Conquer Cyberspace
An interview with the investigative reporter & researcher Portlus Glam.
|Greg Olear||Dec 20, 2019||14|
RUDY GIULIANI may seem like a buffoon, the court jester in the opera buffa that is Trumpland, but what he’s been doing for the last three years could not be more serious. After falling off the radar following his aborted attempt to land the Secretary of State gig in late 2016, Giuliani has re-emerged as the key figure in the Ukraine scandal that this week led to the president’s impeachment. But at no point in the last three years did he ever actually go away.
While the details of the fateful call between Trump and Ukrainian president Zelensky have been dissected to death in the press and in Congress, the context of that meeting has eluded most of the reporting. And context is everything. The Zelensky quid pro quo was but a still shot from an epic motion picture that has gone on for more than three years—and it’s absolutely a horror movie.
From the hour he vanished from the scene almost exactly three years ago to the present day, Rudy Giuliani has been operating as Trump’s “informal cybersecurity advisor,” an innocuous title that belies his Orwellian objective: the conquest of cyberspace by Putin, Trump, and…well, let’s just call them what they are—the forces of evil. (Despite claims of working for Trump for free, Giuliani has of course been handsomely compensated for his odious treachery).
This is all difficult to wrap one’s head around. So I asked the crack researcher called Portlus Glam (@PortlusGlam), who has been sounding the alarm about this for almost as long as it’s been going on, to explain it to me:
GO: What does “Portlus Glam” mean?
PG: She’s a character I invented in my twenties when I thought I was Charles Bukowski. I use it as a pen name now because I don’t have an I.T. department or a legal team.
GO: Fair enough. Your work on Giuliani, both the threads and the Medium pieces, is extensive. There’s so much there. You were YEARS ahead of the story on Rudy’s activities. How did you figure this all out? What was the starting point for your research?
PG: I actually named it “Operation Vampire Slayer” when I first kicked off the research in May 2018. Back then, I had only one specific goal—getting Rudy Giuliani off my television set! But once I realized the scope of his foreign exploits—particularly in Ukraine, and with U.S. cybersecurity policy specifically—it became all-consuming to get the information out.
GO: Remind me...what was going on at that time?
PG: We’re experiencing the effects of non-linear war, so timelines of events and broader geopolitical context are so critical.
GO: Totally. It’s so important to return to the timelines, to understand what’s going on. Context is vital.
PG: May 2018 was about a month after Michael Cohen had been raided by the FBI. The Mueller investigation was in full swing, and Michael Avenatti was being plastered across any news program that would book him. Then, out of nowhere, Rudy Giuliani popped back up on TV calling himself Trump’s “personal lawyer.” It was a hot mess!
GO: Ah yes, I recall. That was when half the country was gaga over Avenatti, and the other half was gaga over Stormy Daniels. That was also after Mueller had started his investigation—but we had no idea what he was doing, so there was a news vacuum from the anti-Trump side that Avenatti and others took advantage of.
PG: You’re hitting on something fundamental. There was an absolute dearth of information, because the Special Counsel’s investigation was being so closely guarded. That was precisely how Rudy was able to co-opt the media again, just like he did in 2016.
GO: Well, Giuliani has experience exploiting critical historical events to get his ugly mug on TV. If Bush hadn’t spent most of 9/11 zipping around on Air Force One, we wouldn’t be talking about Rudy now.
PG: The chaos makes it easy to forget, but up until that point Rudy had been totally off the grid for all of 2017 and 2018. The last we had really heard from him was when Trump named him “informal” cybersecurity advisor in January 2017. Obviously, that was just a way to skirt ethics rules and confirmation hearings.
GO: Right. There was a big push for Giuliani to be named Secretary of State during the 2016 transition, but that movement died so abruptly and completely that he basically vanished from the face of the earth—like (to continue your vampire theme) when Dracula has his coffin loaded onto that ship and sails from Transylvania to Carfax Abbey.
PG: Yes, we all thought the coffin had been nailed shut, and nobody was missing him. We knew at the time that Giuliani’s name was withdrawn because he couldn’t pass vetting by the Trump transition team. And that’s really saying a lot, considering who did get through.
PG: So this sudden re-emergence disturbed me, and I saw the media blitz as a red flag that money was moving hands. I knew that Guiliani had been highly effective in his role as propagandist and secret ex-FBI interlocutor during the 2016 “Weinergate” operation. So from that vantage point, I was viewing the entire spectacle as an active measure to derail the Mueller investigation.
GO: Weinergate. That was when Giuliani colluded with the “Trumplandia”—the FBI’s New York Field Office—to basically resurrect the Hillary Clinton email investigation. It was more or less an active measure, and when it compelled Jim Comey to write his fateful memo, it absolutely cost HRC the election.
PG: Yes, but we never learned from the Inspector General what Rudy’s true role in all of that was. The IG report on the Clinton email investigation was anticipated to include findings on those FBI leaks to Giuliani, but it didn’t and the promised follow-up report never came.
GO: I wonder if that’s part of the counterintelligence investigation. Although you’re right, that should have been in the IG report.
PG: I’ve speculated on that—I call it the “Sater Special.” Look, Giuliani has well-established, decades-long business relationships with ex-FBI and ex-NYPD officials via Giuliani Safety and Security LLC. The IG report revealed significant influence by the “Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI” in forcing Comey’s hand on the letter to Congress.
GO: No question. Seth Abramson termed it the “True Pundit Hoax.”
PG: The IG report was released in June 2018, and still not a single journalist has ever asked Rudy a single question about it.
GO: That’s not a surprise. The media has failed so ignominiously that it almost has to be complicit. No one is that bad at their job. Not even Chris Cillizza—although I suppose that’s debatable.
PG: It’s idiotic and purposeful, because Rudy told us what he was going to do right out of the gate. I kicked off Operation Vampire Slayer the same week in May 2018 that Giuliani told Dana Bash this about his phony “lawyer” charade:
It is for public opinion, because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, not impeach…[Lawmakers] are going to be informed a lot by their constituents. And so our jury is—as it should be—is the American people. And the American people...now question the legitimacy of [the investigation].
As a citizen I found that terrifying, because he was telegraphing a psychological operation against the American public. At that moment, it was the job of our free press to serve the interests of the people, but instead Giuliani became their primary anonymous source for Mueller “scoops.”
GO: I see. In his capacity as Trump’s “personal attorney,” Rudy could plausibly claim some inside knowledge of what Mueller was up to, even if he actually had no fucking idea.
PG: Right, but Trump was also in a joint defense agreement with Manafort around the time, so Giuliani's “lawyer” role could have served as a “telephone line,” so to speak. There are also loopholes in the Foreign Agents Registration Act for legal activities.
It was a brutal lesson. So in all the free time I could find, I just went to work trying to report it myself.
GO: You don’t do this professionally, even, and you’ve done WAY more than most of them have.
PG: I don’t do this professionally, which is why at first I was so focused on getting the research in front of “real” reporters. I’m a subject matter expert who volunteers my time fighting back an information war that the media won’t acknowledge is happening. For the most part I’ve been relegated to the pile of “amateur Twitter sleuths” and “wannabes,” as we’re called by the reporters we’re trying to help.
GO: Glenn Greenwald says we’re “charlatans,” because: projection.
PG: It’s stupid because the primary sources speak for themselves.
GO: How much time have you spent on this?
PG: Over a thousand hours, I’m sure. But it honestly only took a few to put the broad strokes of the picture together regarding Rudy and Ukraine—the information was right there to be found through open source investigation.
GO: What are the broad strokes? Can you sum up what you uncovered in a sentence or two?
PG: Right off the bat, I discovered the 2017 “Arms-for-Silence” quid pro quo that Giuliani helped negotiate on behalf of Trump. He was paid via “security consulting” contracts with the cities of Kharkiv and Kiev beginning in May 2017 and June 2017, respectively.
But the crime-in-progress that reporters won’t touch is Giuliani’s ex-U.S role as Trump’s cyber envoy, and in cyber operations against the American public. What I documented was a shadow government at work—one that dropped an atomic information bomb on the American people early in Trump’s presidency.
I reported on this effort in real-time throughout 2018 and early 2019, with increasing alarm—especially during the midterms when Giuliani traveled to Israel, Latin America and Armenia. It has been “asymmetric warfare at its finest,” as Michael Flynn said.
GO: To be clear, this is a totally separate quid pro quo from the Zelensky one everybody is talking about now, right?
PG: Right. This was the topic of my first report, which I published on Medium in July 2018: “Rudy Giuliani Met Twice With Ukrainian President Poroshenko Last Year Amid U.S.-Ukraine Arms Deal Negotiations.”
This quid pro quo involved Poroshenko dropping investigations into Manafort (via Yuriy Lutsenko, the corrupt former prosecutor of Ukraine) in exchange for Javelin missiles. So, I see the Parnas and Fruman hijink with Zelensky as Season Two of the Rudy Does Ukraine Shit Show. To me, it’s all become so moronic. Things have jumped the shark.
GO: It seems impossible that the Zelensky call was the first time anything like this had happened, in Ukraine or elsewhere. Your research confirms as much.
PG: I’m confident that the people who need to know are now aware of the situation. Senate Democrats actually sent a letter to the DOJ in September 2018 requesting an investigation into Giuliani’s Ukraine work.
GO: But nothing came out of it.
PG: I don’t know—Barr inherited the “Rudy problem” in late 2018, and my gut tells me he must have “deputized” him in some way to keep going. I’m disappointed it wasn’t part of the House impeachment investigation. Maybe we’ll learn about it during the Senate trial or in his forthcoming indictments.
GO: Your biggest concern, clearly, is cybersecurity. Here is a recent tweet of yours:
Could you elaborate on this a bit?
PG: Sure, but first we need to all get clear-eyed about what this admin’s “unofficial” cybersecurity goals are.
On the world stage, Russia operates by exploiting the “liberalism” of the West—weaponizing our freedoms against us. The cybersecurity policy of the Russian State is to “protect” its citizens from a “hostile world” by controlling the cybersphere, while encouraging democracies around the world to leave cyberspace unregulated and open to military-grade information warfare.
Trump named Giuliani his “informal cybersecurity advisor” precisely because his DAY ONE priority was to re-align U.S. cybersecurity policy with Russia and privatize our national cybersecurity apparatus. This is the “security cooperation” step that had to come before Trump could implode NATO. They need to ensure “synergy” over the global narrative.
GO: Let’s pause here to ponder the irony of the guy in charge of all this so-called “cybersecurity” having to go to the Apple store because he couldn’t unlock his own iPhone.
PG: It doesn’t matter though if Giuliani can use his phone, and it’s probably easier for his handlers that he’s not too tech savvy. Stories like that only serve one purpose—to muddy reality. Giuliani isn’t the puppetmaster, he’s a puppet. He’s literally doing performance art, and we’re forced to consume it as infotainment.
GO: The media people sure seem to love him.
PG: It doesn’t take more than a free ride on the private jet of a mobbed-up oligarch for an old, drunk vampire like Rudy to carry a thumb drive of voter data over to Ukraine.
PG: Remember—back in December 2016, when Giuliani was jockeying for Secretary of State, there were contracts in play between State Department, Cambridge Analytica and Psy Group. Those were reportedly stymied soon after Flynn was ousted in February 2017, along with contract proposals submitted to DoD.
GO: There was too much heat. The media was actually paying attention, for a brief shining moment.
PG: What does everyone think, they just gave up? No! The effort was taken offline. What I documented was a well-funded, transnational effort to eliminate specific obstacles in the global cyber arena, in order for this realignment to remain clandestine and succeed. Every U.S. cybersecurity development over the past three years has been in furtherance of this new reality.
GO: I remember reading stories about this...the proposed “joint cyber force” between us and Russia, or whatever the fuck it was. Seditious.
PG: There was a reason why the “impenetrable Cyber Security unit” was the one thing Trump announced on Twitter after his first meeting with Putin in July 2017, with the White House immediately following up on record to deny it. This is a frequent psychological tactic they employ—it’s so no one ever truly knows what they are up to or what has really happened.
GO: Trump in particular is awesome at that. Other than bankruptcy, it may be his finest skill.
PG: Russia made their goal for militarization clear in December 2016, when Putin released his new doctrine for cyber warfare. Trump created a national upheaval by firing FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. And in June 2017, Russia imploded the U.N.’s 13-year effort to draft new global cybersecurity rules.
This created an influence vacuum and put vulnerable ex-Soviet countries at imminent risk for cyberattack by Russia. That allowed Giuliani to go over and operationalize in Ukraine during May and June 2017 via contracts with Mayors in Kharkiv and Kiev.
GO: Operationalize, meaning?
PG: He set up shop. Remember—by February 2017, Paul Manafort was out of the Ukraine game. Michael Cohen and Felix Sater’s peace plan hijinx had taken them out too. Rudy probably ended up wearing many more capes than anyone had initially planned.
GO: Well, I mean, vampires wear capes.
PG: So that’s why his goon squad from Giuliani Safety and Security LLC was literally on the ground in Kharkiv the day Comey was fired—May 9, 2017. And that’s why Giuliani was at the White House the day after Comey was fired—May 10—meeting with Tom Bossert to put the finishing touches on the Administration’s first Executive Order on Cybersecurity. Fun fact: that was also the same day Lavrov and Kislyak visited Trump in the Oval Office.
GO: Everything that treasons must converge.
PG: Skipping to early July 2017, Trump held his first meeting with Putin during the G20 Summit in Hamburg—the one where they chatted about a “joint cyber unit.” A week later, Rex Tillerson directed State to shutter its Office of Cyber Issues, pushing out a well-respected global cyber envoy, Christopher Painter. Once again, Giuliani’s goon squad was on the ground in Ukraine for this announcement, meeting with ex-Party of Regions leaders.
This commenced a reorganization and consolidation of power over our national cybersecurity apparatus by the executive branch. It also ended the era of U.S. cyber diplomacy and launched a new era of competitive militarization in cyberspace—the policy goal of Russia.
GO: So this is what Putin and Trump were discussing in secrecy. Not kompromat or whatever: the joint takeover of cyberspace.
PG: Every meeting Trump and Putin have ever had has been on the topic of “security cooperation.” Giuliani’s cybersecurity activities in Ukraine and elsewhere in 2017-2018 were directly related to this clandestine effort.
Right after Helsinki in July 2018, a task force called “Russia Small Group” had been formed by the NSA, and a “follow-up meeting” in Paris for November 2018 was announced. Later in July, the Russian Ministry of Defense tweeted they were “standing ready for practical implementation of agreements made in Helsinki.” That scared the shit out of me.
GO: Paris, 2018. When Trump bailed on the centennial of Armistice Day because [reads notes] it was raining. He might as well have said the dog ate his homework—except of course he doesn’t have a dog.
PG: There’s never been a balder example of how planted news is shamelessly laundered to the U.S. public. Worse is the way folks mindlessly participate in the distractions. While Twitter was busy ridiculing and mocking Trump, he was wheeling and dealing up in his Paris hotel room.
Trump spoke and saw Putin several times in Paris. Over 30 members of Congress were there that weekend on the dime of a dark money group called the Ripon Society. Jeffrey Epstein was in Paris that weekend—his jet made a quick run to Slovakia two days beforehand. Billionaire Trump donors like Tom Barrack, Larry Fink, and Stephen Schwarzman were in Paris too. Barrack appears to have dined at the French embassy with Mike Pompeo and executives from Facebook and Google.
GO: Barrack is the guy who convinced Trump to install their mutual friend Paul Manafort as his campaign chair. So I say again: Everything that treasons must converge.
PG: So, at the end of that weekend, Trump dissed French President Macron by leaving early and rebuffing his “Paris Call for Trust and Safety in Cyberspace.” Instead, Trump returned home to immediately sign CISAA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act) into law. At the same time, the Yellow Jacket operation in France popped off—which I viewed as Putin’s test of this new pact.
GO: The Yellow Jackets, right. Supposedly a Russian active measure.
PG: Yes, the net result of all of it was the elimination of U.S. government protection of citizens from information warfare. That goes for our allies and within our own domestic sphere. It’s all been left up to private industry to decide, under the auspices of “freedom of speech.”
And now that DoD taskforce has been made permanent and renamed the “NSA Cybersecurity Directorate.”
GO: That sounds flat-out Nazi.
PG: Yeah, well…
GO: How did Giuliani pay for all of this? It’s not cheap to fly first-class to Ukraine.
PG: The “pro bono lawyer” schtick was absurd from the start, and the media has us in a fugue state about this. Giuliani earned at least $14 million over 2017-2018 for his efforts as Trump’s “informal” Cybersecurity Advisor. Check the divorce court filings!
He was paid by foreign governments like Ukraine, foreign oligarchs like Pavel Fuchs, and unknown others to directly influence U.S. policy and public-private partnership decisions. There’s a term for that: “unregistered foreign agent.”
GO: Smells like a FARA violation.
PG: It is a FARA violation, but it’s more serious than that.
A press release in March 2018 announced a Ukrainian delegation from Kharkiv had traveled to New York City for meetings with Giuliani. Somehow, Giuliani managed to secure these former Party of Regions officials access to “study” the New York and New Jersey Departments of Emergency Response. The press release highlighted that the delegation had discussed “software issues” related to the U.S. Centers for Emergency Response.
GO: Emergency Response? Like, FEMA? Between this and 9/11, Rudy Giuliani seems to have made it his life’s work to fuck up the country’s disaster response.
PG: Not just ours—Giuliani Safety and Security LLC goes around the globe implementing a Big Brother reboot of his failed “broken windows” policy in foreign cities, in exchange for influence and access in the U.S. Our government is so alarmed about Russia being in our infrastructure, but who gave them the key? I can’t get anyone to look into it.
GO: I think part of the issue is that it requires some imagination to grasp what actually happened. If the Russians physically broke into the White House and stole a shit-ton of files, the nation would be aghast. We would demand retaliation. Because the break-in was virtual, it lacks a visceral impact.
PG: Regular folks don’t care because the don’t know it’s happening and don’t understand its effects. Mainstream media picks the stories we are allowed to know about and frames the narrative. It’s to the MSM’s benefit that the far-right/far-left propaganda machine thrives, because it has made legacy media useful and profitable for the first time since print died.
GO: I never thought of it like that. So this is another way the media has been complicit, less obvious than the simple repetition of known lies and bad narratives.
PG: The buffoonery is intentional too, so the notion that these guys don’t know what they’re doing only works to their benefit. Most folks don’t even realize that U.S. media has drawn the blinds to the rest of the world, because it happened so subtly over 2014-2015.
GO: What is the ultimate purpose here? Thought control? Kompromat? Election tampering?
PG: Rudy is a menace. He told us he is doing this to “disrupt the world.” So we’re being forced to live in a reality where 2017 and 2018 never happened, where Crimea belongs to Russia on Apple maps, where Giuliani was never Trump’s cyber envoy, and where this moronic Biden op defines where the Ukraine conspiracy begins. That’s as myopic and dumb of a narrative framing as this story can have.
GO: With the Biden/Zelensky thing, it’s like we’re coming in at the tail-end of the events in question, but the media presents it as the full story. As usual, meaningful context is withheld.
What should we keep a closer eye on going forward?
PG: We should keep a closer eye on the language the media repeats and how we parrot it back. What Russia did was an Act of War. U.S. courts ruled as much earlier this year when a judge tossed out a civil lawsuit the DNC had filed against Russia for its 2016 hacking. Fiona Hill recently testified that U.S. intelligence agencies have determined the Biden operation originated with Russian military intelligence. Those who are helping to spread it are aiding and abetting a hostile enemy. Period.
GO: There’s a word for that: treason.
Photo: Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York speaking at a forum titled “Countering Iran’s Nuclear Terrorist Threats” hosted by the Iranian American Community of Arizona in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.