Maybe Giuliani's Right: Trump Lawyers May Not Know of Collusion
(Bloomberg) -- Rudy Giuliani raised eyebrows when he said in a television interview that he doesn’t know if anyone in the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. He may be right.
That’s because Giuliani and Trump’s other lawyers have blind spots about what Special Counsel Robert Mueller is uncovering in his continuing investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
It may explain the always voluble Giuliani’s comment in a CNN interview on Wednesday night that “I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign.” Instead, he said he knows only that “there is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack” the Democratic National Committee.
By Thursday morning, the former New York mayor was saying his comments were being misinterpreted.
“I am as confident as I can be, not being the lawyer for everyone, that there was no collusion with regard to hacking the DNC or anything that is a crime by anyone on the campaign,” Giuliani said Thursday in an interview. “But I don’t represent any of them, so I don’t have intimate knowledge of what they did.”
Unlike Mueller, Trump’s lawyers don’t have access to the personal communications and financial records of Trump’s associates. While the president’s legal team has information-sharing agreements with many of the witnesses Mueller has talked to, the lawyers for those witnesses aren’t required to share everything with Trump’s team and can’t provide information that could hurt their clients’ defense.
And Trump’s legal team doesn’t have information sharing agreements with some of Mueller’s key witnesses, including Trump’s former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, who has been cooperating with prosecutors for nearly a year.
Despite Trump’s frequent assertion that there was “no collusion,” his own team has a limited view of what their client knew given that he keeps few electronic or written records because he doesn’t use email or texts. So they have to rely mostly on Trump’s recollection of what he said or was told in person or over the phone.
Like any defense lawyers, Trump’s try to figure out what information prosecutors have, but they face limitations. For instance, the lawyers were caught off-guard by disclosures made by Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer, about hush-money payments to two women and about efforts to built a Trump Tower in Moscow.
On Thursday, Cohen, who plans to testify in an open House committee hearing on Feb. 7, said in a tweet that he tried to rig online polls in the 2016 campaign “at the direction of and for the sole benefit” of Trump. The president has called Cohen a “liar” who flipped to a prosecution witness to save himself.
“I am 100 percent confident there was no collusion by the president,” Giuliani said on Thursday. But, he added, “No one thinks we are God. We are talking for our client. Could things have happened that we didn’t know about? Yes. Do we think there was? No.”
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