Giuliani Says Trump Backs His Public Attacks on Mueller Probe
(Bloomberg) -- Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s newest lawyer, said the president and his legal team are pursuing a more public and aggressive strategy toward Robert Mueller’s investigation as they try to pressure the special counsel to wrap up quickly.
“We have to speak out now, we have no other remedy,” Giuliani, a former New York mayor, said Monday in an interview. “The president is being harmed in his ability to conduct the business of his presidency.”
Giuliani said that Trump and Jay Sekulow, Trump’s other main lawyer in the inquiry, agreed on the new strategy recently. In a string of nearly daily television appearances over the past week, Giuliani said he has tried to make clear that the president’s patience has worn out on the investigation into Russian election meddling that Mueller has overseen for almost a year.
“We will no longer be a punching bag for the liberal media, for people who created crimes in their own fantastical mind and out of anger they lost the election,” he said. “We are at the point where we are saying: ‘Let’s get to the end. We are coming up on the one-year anniversary. You have nothing.’”
Trump has also issued more frequent condemnations of Mueller’s probe in recent weeks. On Monday, he tweeted, “Is this Phony Witch Hunt going to go on even longer so it wrongfully impacts the Mid-Term Elections, which is what the Democrats always intended? Republicans better get tough and smart before it is too late!”
Giuliani, who joined Trump’s legal team late last month, spoke after days of a shifting narrative about the hush money paid to porn star Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, in the final weeks of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
He surprised some Trump advisers by saying last week that Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, made the payment to ensure the allegation didn’t come out right before the election. He later clarified the remarks, saying he’s still getting up to speed on Trump’s cases. He said Cohen made the payment to protect Trump’s family from the embarrassment of false charges and that the president later repaid Cohen. When asked, he also didn’t rule out that Cohen made other, similar payments on Trump’s behalf.
When questioned about Giuliani’s shifting explanation of the Cohen payment, Trump said last week that “he just started yesterday” and “he wasn’t totally familiar with everything.”
But Giuliani made clear Monday that he plans to remain a vocal spokesman for Trump when it comes to the Mueller probe.
“I have been doing this all my life,” he said. “I have fought far more difficult people than this. The mafia, the FARC, terrorists.”
Negotiating an Interview
A fundamental challenge for Giuliani and the president’s legal team is negotiating with Mueller over a possible interview of Trump. Mueller’s team has told Trump’s lawyers that they might issue a grand jury subpoena if the president doesn’t agree to talk.
Giuliani said he is willing to go to court to prevent Trump from answering questions unless Mueller agrees to several conditions: limiting the interview’s duration to one or two hours, conducting it in a venue of Trump’s choosing and to writing a report on his findings shortly after. He compared the terms to those granted by FBI investigators to Hillary Clinton in the probe of her email use as secretary of state.
Giuliani said he has already presented some of his terms to Mueller but declined to say when his next meeting with the special counsel’s team would be held.
Until Giuliani’s arrival, Trump’s lawyers had largely stayed out of the public spotlight and kept most of their messaging to Mueller’s team behind closed doors.
Now, Giuliani said he’s trying to craft messages to pressure Mueller and to convince the public that the investigation has gone on too long.
This includes drawing attention to anything that the legal team believes could bolster its case, such as recent remarks by a federal judge in Virginia questioning whether the indictment of Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, exceeded Mueller’s mandate.
“That is a conscious legal and public relations strategy,” Giuliani said.
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