Rudy Giuliani, overheard talking about need for cash, mistakenly calls NBC reporter

In the muffled recording, Rudy Giuliani can be heard discussing business in Turkey and Bahrain.
In the muffled recording, Rudy Giuliani can be heard discussing business in Turkey and Bahrain.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (NY TIMES) - Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer and a key figure in the impeachment inquiry, inadvertently telephoned an NBC News reporter at 11pm one night this month and leave a lengthy voice message filled with snippets of an overheard conversation.

In the muffled recording - left on Oct 16 with NBC reporter Rich Schapiro - Mr Giuliani, the chairman of a security consulting firm, can be heard discussing business in Turkey and Bahrain.

At one point, speaking with a pair of unidentified men, Mr Giuliani declares: "The problem is we need some money." Nearly 10 seconds of silence tick by before Mr Giuliani clarifies: "We need a few hundred thousand."

It was not the first time that Mr Giuliani had left remnants of a conversation on Mr Schapiro's phone. In a voicemail in September, he can be heard railing against the family of Joe Biden, suggesting with no evidence that he knows of corrupt activities by the former vice-president.

Calls and texts to Mr Giuliani seeking clarity about the messages went unreturned on Friday (Oct 25). And Mr Schapiro, in an appearance on MSNBC, said he had tried without success to ask Mr Giuliani about the unusual recordings.

"I have yet to receive an intentional or unintentional call back," Mr Schapiro said.

Given Mr Giuliani's sensitive role in the impeachment inquiry, and his taste for the spotlight, there was some speculation that the messages could have been staged. But based on reactions from the Washington press corps who cover him, Mr Giuliani, 75, is an accomplished inadvertent caller. On social media, the Giuliani stories began to flow.

"Everyone has a good Rudy butt dial story," Josh Dawsey, a Washington Post White House reporter, wrote on Twitter. "I've heard him on what sounded like a plane, at the airport, at what sounded like a bar."

Jonathan Swan, a White House reporter for Axios, had another story. "He once texted me a voice memo recording of himself talking to a guy," Mr Swan recalled. "I couldn't make any sense of it or figure out how he managed to text me a recording inadvertently."


David Martosko, a journalist at the Daily Mail, remembered once bumping into Mr Giuliani and a Fox News producer at a Washington television studio. "He was just finishing telling her a story," Martosko wrote on Twitter, referring to the producer. "It ended with: 'And I butt-dialed him! Can you believe it?'"

Accidents aside, Mr Giuliani relies heavily on his telephone to communicate. He is a frequent texter and often eager to engage with reporters.

In a recent parlour game of sorts in Washington, journalists posted pictures of their smartphone conversations with the former New York mayor.

Oliver Darcy, a CNN media reporter, joked on Twitter last week that it was "starting to feel like I might be the only reporter not texting with" Mr Giuliani.

Inadvertent phone calls have yet to join the pantheon of legendary reporting methods. But the smartphone era is young.

"I can tell you," Mr Schapiro said on Friday on MSNBC, "I did not go to sleep that night expecting to wake up in the morning with a three-minute voicemail message from Rudy Giuliani."