Giuliani seeks end to Russia probe
President Trump brought in fresh reinforcements to help him contend with the investigation into Russian election meddling, adding two criminal defense attorneys and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to his legal team. Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney, told reporters that he hoped to negotiate an end to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe within weeks “for the good of the country.” Giuliani has known Mueller for three decades—they worked together in the Reagan Justice Department and following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when Mueller was FBI director. The pair met this week to discuss a discuss a possible presidential interview by the special counsel, although Giuliani cautioned that Trump remained resistant to such an interview.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly told President Trump during a White House meeting last week that he isn’t a target of the Russia probe or the investigation into his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen. After that meeting, Trump reportedly told advisers that he sees no immediate need to remove Mueller or Rosenstein, who is overseeing the probe. Nevertheless, questions continued to swirl around Trump’s ties with Russia. Bloomberg.com reported that flight records show Trump stayed overnight in Moscow after a 2013 Miss Universe pageant, contradicting the time line he provided to former FBI Director James Comey. Trump repeatedly told Comey that salacious rumors in the Steele dossier about him partying with Russian prostitutes after the pageant couldn’t be true, because he left for New York the same night.
What the columnists said
Giuliani’s bluster sounds like “wishful thinking,” said John Cassidy in NewYorker.com. The White House wants to promote the narrative that the Mueller investigation is wrapping up and “the president is largely in the clear.” But Trump’s hiring two experienced criminal defense attorneys in addition to Giuliani suggests that he’s “girding for a lengthy battle.” Even Rosenstein’s assurance that Trump isn’t being personally investigated at this time “doesn’t necessarily mean very much.” The president could become a target at any time, depending on what investigators find.
But “the odds of that happening decline by the day,” said Michael Goodwin in the New York Post. After a nearly year-long investigation, Mueller has unearthed no evidence that the president committed a crime. Yet the special counsel seems intent on keeping this probe going endlessly, searching through Trump’s “entire life with a fine-tooth comb” until he finds him guilty of something. That’s why it was refreshing to hear Giuliani effectively say, Wrap it up.
Amid all this, America owes Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions “a debt of thanks,” said David French in NationalReview.com. Both men have held firm in the face of withering attacks from a president of their own party to protect the integrity of Mueller’s investigation, with Sessions reportedly telling Trump that he would resign if Rosenstein were fired. “There’s reason to have confidence that the rule of law will prevail, and the political chips will fall where they may.”