Giuliani Leans Against Trump Walking Into Mueller's `Trap'
(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s lawyer said he’s leaning against making the president available for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, and that Trump wouldn’t have to comply with a subpoena.
“Not after the way they’ve acted,” Rudy Giuliani said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” in an apparent reference to a list of questions that the special counsel would like to ask Trump. “I came into this case with the desire to do that, and they just keep convincing me not to do it.” Such an interview would be a “trap,” he said.
“Every lawyer in America thinks he’d be a fool to testify,” Giuliani said, adding that Trump in the end “may testify” if the right agreement can be worked out with Mueller.
Giuliani said Trump wouldn’t have to comply with a subpoena by Mueller, if one is issued -- a current hot topic for legal experts. “We don’t have to,” Giuliani said. “He’s the President of the United States. We can assert the same privileges other presidents have.”
Asked if he was confident Trump wouldn’t take the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination in the Russia probe, Giuliani said, “how can I ever be confident of that?”
Giuliani also repeated a call for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to shut down the special counsel investigation once and for all.
The former New York City mayor, who joined Trump’s legal team in April, spoke after days of a shifting narrative about the hush money paid to porn star Stephanie Clifford in the final weeks of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Giuliani said the payment, made by Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen to the adult film actress in 2016 and repaid by the president in monthly tranches, didn’t violate campaign finance laws. He didn’t rule out other, similar payments having been made by Cohen on Trump’s behalf.
Giuliani’s comments came after he indicated on “Fox & Friends” on Thursday that Cohen paid $130,000 to Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, to ensure that her alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago didn’t become public weeks before the election.
“Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the, you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton,” Giuliani, a former New York mayor and Republican presidential candidate, said on Fox on Thursday. “Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”
Giuliani clarified the comments in a statement on Friday, after being chided that morning by Trump. The president, speaking to reporters, said Giuliani “just started a day ago,” although he was brought onto the legal team last month. “He is a great guy,” Trump said of Giuliani. “He’ll get his facts straight.”
“I’m about halfway there” in getting up to speed on the facts, Giuliani said on Sunday. On Saturday, on Fox News Channel, he said he’d worked his way through about a third of the more than one million documents related to the special counsel’s case.
Friday’s statement recast the hush money payment as one which didn’t violate campaign finance laws, and Giuliani stayed on that theme over the weekend.
“If it is for a personal issue, it’s not a campaign finance expense,” he said on Fox on Saturday. “Even if it was a campaign donation, the president reimbursed it.”
‘At the Time’
Michael Avenatti, the attorney for Daniels, said on ABC that “there’s no question this had everything to do with the campaign,” and that he has evidence that Trump knew about the payment at least in the months following the campaign and before the president denied knowing about it while speaking to reporters on Air Force One last month.
Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that Trump was telling reporters in April that he didn’t know about the payment “at the time.”
“What they’re trying to sell American people is just not believable, and they can’t even keep their facts straight or their lies straight,” Avenatti said on ABC.
Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether he’s trying to win a case or take down a president, Avenatti said he was trying to win a case and “search for the truth.” “Cover ups should always matter to the American people,” he said.
“Ultimately, the American people and others that are far more educated and powerful than us will decide whether the president is fit to remain in office,” Avenatti said. In his third interview of the day, on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” he said comments from Giuliani and others would help his efforts to depose Trump in the civil case around Clifford.
Giuliani said on ABC that there’s a “longstanding agreement that Michael Cohen takes care of situations like” the Clifford one for Trump “then gets paid for them sometimes.”
Asked whether Cohen has made payments to other women on behalf of Trump, Giuliani said, “I have no knowledge of that, but I would think if it was necessary, yes.” Conway said she wasn’t aware of other potential payments.
Although Giuliani said Trump wouldn’t have to comply with a subpoena from Mueller, Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and a former federal prosecutor, said on CNN there would be no way for Trump to dodge a subpoena.
Joseph diGenova, a Trump defender and former U.S. attorney, said on “Fox News Sunday” that if a subpoena is issued, “the president should fight it all the way to the Supreme Court.”
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