Struggling to speak over the whir of nearby aircraft, President Trump on Friday gave impromptu news conferences outside the White House and, later, at Andrews Air Force Base, in which he defended embattled legal adviser Rudy Giuliani, teased that he might be willing to meet with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and – because why the hell not – boasted of his electoral college victory over Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s conversations with reporters came before the president took off for Dallas to speak at the NRA’s national convention, and following an eventful 24 hours of fallout from Giuliani’s bombshell claim that Trump repaid Michael Cohen the $130,000 given to Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election.
Despite the chaos created by Giuliani’s comments, the president heaped praise onto his longtime confidant, calling him “a great man,” a “special guy,” and someone who “really has his heart into it.” Trump also made it clear that Giuliani is the one to be blamed for the latest firestorm of controversy to descend on the White House. “He’s working hard, he’s learning the subject matter,” Trump said of the new addition to his legal team, going on to note that the former New York City mayor “started yesterday” and that “he’ll get his facts straight.”
“Virtually everything said has been said incorrectly, and it’s been said wrong, or it’s been covered wrong,” Trump added, referencing an erroneous NBC News report that the FBI wiretapped Cohen, which the network later corrected.
— CNN (@CNN) May 4, 2018
Giuliani actually joined Trump’s legal team over two weeks ago, which, though more than a day, is still not close to enough time to get up to speed on the president’s many legal entanglements. Though his comments Wednesday night reportedly came as a shock to White House staff, Giuliani later told reporters that he conferred with Trump before making the appearance, and that Trump knew he was going to bring up the Daniels payment. Trump didn’t make it clear on Friday why he allowed someone with such a limited understanding of his legal issues to discuss them on national television, but it could have something to do with Giuliani sharing Trump’s core belief regarding Mueller’s investigation. “He knows it’s a witch hunt,” Trump said on Friday. “That’s what he knows. He’s seen a lot of them, and he’s said he’s never seen anything so horrible.”
As for a potential meeting with Mueller, the president said there is “nothing he wants to do more” than speak with the special counsel. “We did nothing wrong,” Trump said. “We ran a great campaign. We won easily. We won that easily: 306 to I think it was 223. We won it easily. That was a great victory.” (Clinton actually received 232 votes.)
But Trump’s burning desire to sit down with Special Counsel Mueller comes with an especially large caveat, one that his Friday comments made clear is probably going to prevent him from ever voluntarily agreeing to an interview.
“The bottom line is … I want to talk to the people in charge if they can prove it’s a fair situation,” he said. “The problem is … You have 13 people. They’re all Democrats, and they’re real Democrats, they’re angry Democrats. That’s not a fair situation.”
President Trump says he would “love to speak” with Special Counsel Mueller:
“If I thought it was fair, I would override my lawyers.” pic.twitter.com/ZgCEtdMUEn
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 4, 2018
Trump is referring to the team of investigators led by Mueller, a lifelong Republican who was appointed FBI director by George W. Bush. Trump has repeatedly made it clear that he is convinced Mueller and the rest of the Justice Department are out to get him, making it hard to imagine any scenario in which the president would feel he is receiving fair treatment.
“Everybody sees it now, and it is a pure witch hunt,” he added. “Right now, it’s a pure witch hunt. Why don’t we have Republicans looking also? Why aren’t we having Republican people doing what all these Democrats are doing? It is a very unfair thing. If I thought it was fair, I would override my lawyers.”
On Wednesday, one such lawyer, Giuliani, laid out some of his parameters for a possible sit down. “Some people have talked about a possible 12-hour interview,” he said, according to a tweet from Washington Post reporter Robert Costa. “If it happens, that’s not going to happen, I’ll tell you that. It’d be, max, two to three hours around a narrow set of questions.”
It’s unlikely Mueller would cow to the requests of Trump’s legal team, which means that – as reported Tuesday night – a subpoena could be in order. If Mueller were to issue one, it could lead to one of the greatest Constitutional crises in the modern history should Trump refuse to comply. On Thursday night, Giuliani told ABC News he’ll be getting ready for a potential showdown. “I think it’s 50/50,” Giuliani said of the possibility of Mueller issuing a subpoena. “But I got to prepare for that 50 percent.”