Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York, speaks with reporters during the White House Sports and Fitness Day event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg)

Giuliani on Possible Trump-Mueller Interview: ‘Truth Isn’t Truth’

(Bloomberg) -- “Truth isn’t truth,” Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday in discussing why having the president be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for the probe into election interference isn’t a good idea.

When two people, like Trump and former FBI Director James Comey, tell different versions of the same story, “it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth,” the former New York mayor said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

That essentially gives a new twist to old rhetorical saws like “there are two sides to every story” and “he said/she said.” It also echoed the phrase “alternative facts” coined by White House counselor Kellyanne Conway in 2017, to explain why Sean Spicer, then the press secretary, made false claims about the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration.

Challenged by NBC correspondent Chuck Todd that “truth is truth,” Giuliani responded, “No, it isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth.”

“Donald Trump says I didn’t talk about Flynn with Comey; Comey says you did talk about it,” he continued, referring to Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. “So tell me what the truth is.”

Giuliani said Mueller is “desperate”’ to find something to charge Trump with, and that “I’m not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury.” The president’s legal team has spent months weighing up whether to allow Trump to be interviewed by the special counsel.

Competing Reports

If Mueller tries to issue a subpoena to Trump before the midterm elections in November, the president’s team will accuse him of trying to interfere because he could have acted sooner, Giuliani said.

“Time for Mueller investigation to file report,” Giuliani said Saturday on Twitter. “We will release ours. Don’t interfere with election.”

Giuliani, 74, also said that the 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York, involving the then-candidate’s oldest son and a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, was arranged to seek information on Trump’s rival, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton -- but that the participants didn’t know the lawyer was Russian.

Giuliani on Possible Trump-Mueller Interview: ‘Truth Isn’t Truth’

“The meeting was originally for the purpose of getting information about, about Clinton,” he said on NBC. “It turned out to be a meeting about another subject, and it was not pursued at all.”

Run of the Mill

The comment was consistent with a tweet by Trump on Aug. 5 that the gathering had been arranged to “get information on an opponent,” contradicting the previous reason given for the meeting. He didn’t mention Clinton by name.

Like Trump, who characterized the meeting as “totally legal and done all the time,” Giuliani suggested that the action had been routine. “If someone said, I have information about your opponent, you would take that meeting.”

“If this is their case for collusion, good luck Mueller,” Giuliani said of Mueller, who’s leading a probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election and involvement by the Trump campaign. It’s illegal for a U.S. political campaign to accept help from a foreign individual or government.

The rationale used by Trump and now by Giuliani contradicts a statement the president helped craft in 2017, which said the meeting with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya had been arranged to discuss U.S. policies for adopting Russian children.

What’s in a Name?

Giuliani joined Trump’s legal team in April. The mid-2016 meeting was attended by Paul Manafort, then chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign; Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and several Russians, including Veselnitskaya, and their representatives, as well as Donald Trump Jr.

The Trump team didn’t know Veselnitskaya was Russian before the meeting, and didn’t think she represented the Russian government, Giuliani said -- despite the purported focus on Russian adoption policy.

Giuliani also said on NBC and in a separate appearance on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that Trump has nothing to fear about what White House counsel Donald McGahn told Mueller. The New York Times reported this weekend that McGahn gave voluntary interviews totaling some 30 hours over nine months.

“We are confident that he said nothing wrong about the president,” Giuliani said on Fox, suggesting that McGahn would have resigned if he had. Giuliani also said on NBC that former Trump lawyer John Dowd has said McGahn was a strong witness for the president.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.