Giuliani Says Mueller Open to Keep Cohen Case Out of Trump Talks

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicated he’s willing to narrow the scope of an interview with the president, including forgoing questions about payments by Trump’s personal lawyer to an adult film star.

Giuliani said his understanding -- as of Wednesday, after five letters were exchanged between the legal teams -- is that the Justice Department’s investigation into Michael Cohen’s payments to actress Stephanie Clifford, known by the stage name Stormy Daniels, will remain in the Southern District of New York.

“As long as he leaves it there, he believes there isn’t a connection to the president,” Giuliani told CNN in an interview Friday.

“The main focus that we want, simply, is Russia. Was there a connection with Russia?” Giuliani said, adding that Trump “has nothing to do with Russia.”

Mueller spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment Friday on Giuliani’s statements. Giuliani didn’t elaborate on any other topics that Mueller might want to address in his continuing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, whether anyone close to Trump colluded in it and whether Trump sought to obstruct justice.

“We’re in a zone of comfort,” Giuliani said. “This is an unjustifiable investigation.”

Discussions are continuing over other conditions for a possible interview with Trump, including setting a time limit. “We are talking about a difference between two hours and six,” said Giuliani, who also said he’s pressing to get the questions in advance.

Lies, Leaks

Giuliani, the former New York mayor, and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo at times grew combative as the 45-minute interview touched on topics including a recent report in the New York Times detailing of the investigation of Trump’s campaign, his claim that former FBI Director James Comey was a leaker and “damned liar” and his assertion that Mueller’s investigation of obstruction would come down to Trump’s word versus Comey’s.

Giuliani also said “I don’t know for sure, nor does the president” whether there was an FBI informant inside Trump’s campaign, despite Trump’s tweet Thursday quoting a conservative columnist Andrew McCarthy of the New Republic saying that the Obama administration “spied on the trump campaign with an embedded informant.”

Trump added: “If so, this is bigger than Watergate!”

Giuliani told Bloomberg News Thursday that he’s aiming to wrap up negotiations over an interview before June 12, when Trump is planning to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. The actual questioning would take place some time later.

“That way we know after the 12th when he gets back from Singapore whether we can prepare for an interview of some kind or a fight on a subpoena,” Giuliani said in a telephone interview. “I’m hoping it is the first.”

Mueller’s team offered no assurances that the investigation would end shortly after a presidential interview, one of Giuliani’s demands. But Giuliani said he thinks that issue would be part of the next phase of negotiations.

“We are encouraged. They came back to us with a positive response and we will counter with a good, positive response from us,” he said. “This is the first time in two weeks things have looked a little more encouraging.”

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