Perhaps frustrated by the media’s tepid response to his ho-hum Wednesday night appearance on The Ingraham Angle, former New York City mayor and current Trump law person Rudy Giuliani dialed it up for his Friday morning sit-down with CNN’s Chris Cuomo. The wild interview – which last nearly 45 minutes long and featured an equal measure of eye-bulges and confusing assertions – focused mostly on the Mueller investigation. Giuliani reiterated his previously stated belief that Trump would not have to comply with a subpoena; claimed that Mueller agreed to refrain from asking Trump about Michael Cohen; and, bizarrely, invoked Martha Stewart’s 2004 conviction for lying to federal prosecutors as a reason that Trump shouldn’t agree to an interview with the special counsel.
“The President would testify tomorrow if it was about the truth. The truth is he had nothing to do with Russia… Martha Stewart never would have gone to jail if she hadn’t gone and testified,” says Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani https://t.co/n5PU6tz1Av pic.twitter.com/ueD3biHWLl
— CNN (@CNN) May 18, 2018
“The president would testify tomorrow if it was about the truth,” Giuliani told Cuomo. “The truth is that he had nothing to do with Russia. I was on that campaign. He didn’t talk to Russians. He had nothing to do with Russia. He is as surprised about the Russia connection as you would be.”
“Then why won’t he just sit down and say that?” said Cuomo.
After stammering about how different people would be asking the president questions, Giuliani found an appropriate analogy. “It’s like Martha Stewart,” he said. “Martha Stewart never would have gone to jail if she hadn’t gone and testified.”
“Arguably,” Giuliani replied. “Lying is black and white … it isn’t black and white. The president is not going to lie. Let’s get that straight.”
In 2004, Stewart was found to have lied to federal investigators about receiving non-public information regarding a biotech firm, leading her to sell stock in the company shortly before its value sank. She was found guilty of multiple felony charges and sentenced to serve five months in a federal correctional facility.
It is still confusing as to why Trump will not speak with Mueller if, as Trump and Giuliani have maintained, the president is not only totally innocent, but eager and willing to sit down with the special counsel. Trump and his lawyers have cited potential unfair treatment from investigators, but it’s hard to discern what exactly they mean by this. Judging by Giuliani’s reference to the Stewart case, unfair treatment would seem to mean simply catching the president in a lie. This wouldn’t be an issue, of course, if Trump were to be honest with Mueller, which Giuliani has maintained he would.
A potential summit between Trump and Mueller has been a recurring theme of Giuliani’s chaotic tenure as Trump’s legal counsel, which is still less a month old. Despite Giuliani telling Charlie Rose in 1998 that then-president Bill Clinton didn’t have a choice about whether to honor a subpoena, the former New York City mayor has held that Mueller could use legal means to force an interview with Trump. On Wednesday night, he told Laura Ingraham that Mueller has indicated that he will not seek to indict the president while he is in office. A day later, Giuliani revealed to the Washington Times that Mueller told Trump’s legal team he is willing to limit the scope of a potential interview with the president.
Giuliani was not pleased when Cuomo played a clip of Giuliani’s 1998 comments to Rose. After a few seconds, CNN stopped replaying the clip so they could keep Giuliani’s microphone live.
Both Trump and Giuliani have repeatedly tried to discredit Mueller’s investigation in order to make a case that an interview is unnecessary. Trump has described the special counsel and his team as “13 Angry Democrats,” and Giuliani, like Trump, has continually decried the investigation as a witch hunt. Most recently, the duo cited a New York Times report that at least one informant contacted Trump campaign advisers prior to the election as evidence that the FBI is “out to frame” Trump. Giuliani said it would be the “biggest scandal in the history of this town,” while on Twitter the president compared it to Watergate.
On Friday morning, Giuliani walked back his comments a little. “I don’t know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one,” he told CNN, referring to an informant. Trump, however, still seems convinced.
“Apparently the DOJ put a Spy in the Trump Campaign. This has never been done before and by any means necessary, they are out to frame Donald Trump for crimes he didn’t commit.” David Asman @LouDobbs @GreggJarrett Really bad stuff!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2018
Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president. It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a “hot” Fake News story. If true – all time biggest political scandal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2018
Hopefully the president and his legal counsel will be able to get on the same page before the latter’s next TV appearance. If the last few weeks are any indication, it’s coming sooner rather than later.