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rudy can't fail
March 18, 2019

The last time Rudy Giuliani appeared on TV to attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation on behalf of his client President Trump was Jan. 20, when he told NBC News that talks to build a Trump Tower Moscow may have lasted until November 2016 and rambled to CNN about Michael Cohen. Those appearances led to speculation that Trump would pull Giuliani from TV interviews, and Jonathan Swan at Axios said Sunday there's probably some truth to that.

Two people "with direct knowledge" said Trump and his Russia investigation lawyer Emmet Flood have privately griped about some of Giuliani's TV appearances, Swan reports, and a third source said Trump thought it would be best for Giuliani to stay off the air after his Jan. 20 hits. Giuliani himself told Swan that he's laying low to protect Trump from Mueller, not his own TV gaffes.

After the Jan. 20 appearances, "we thought the Mueller report was imminent" and decided "it it would be better not to comment until the report was filed or made public," Giuliani texted Swan, adding that he opted to stay of-the-air so as "not to upset the apple cart, not to create unnecessary, additional, needless friction" with Mueller. Swan said he found that "odd," because "sources familiar with Giuliani's thinking say he views a major part of his job as trying to undermine public confidence in the Mueller probe and harden the support of Republican voters for Trump to protect him against impeachment."

So Swan asked "the president's lawyer" if he thought Giuliani's purported strategy could work. And "the president's lawyer" — who sounds an awful lot like "John Barron" or another Trump alter-ego, probably coincidentally — said: "Yes, because we've had, over a period of time, after we were very tough, we've had some what we regard as very fair decisions, and some that aren't as fair. So we see that there's the capacity to go either way." Peter Weber

January 17, 2019

Oh, that collusion.

On CNN Wednesday night, Rudy Giuliani, personal lawyer to President Trump, acknowledged that maybe Trump's campaign did collude with Russia. When Chris Cuomo reminded Giuliani that Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort recently (and accidentally) revealed some very collusion-y activity, Giuliani didn't disagree. "I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign," he claimed. "I have not! I said the president of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here: Conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC."

Giuliani has a long history of contradicting himself on TV and shifting the collusion discussion, from claiming that "Russian collusion is a total fake news," to noting that that technically, "collusion is not a crime," then that attempted collusion isn't a crime. Also, this:

Wednesday's iteration could be paraphrased: Maybe Trump's campaign colluded but Trump didn't know, and only colluding with Russia to hack Democratic National Committee emails would actually be a crime.

Giuliani agreed he can't change Special Counsel Mueller's report, but also seemed to claim Mueller is already done. "I mean, this whole idea of obstruction is really stupid because the investigation has come to an end and nobody's obstructed it," Giuliani said. "I don't think the investigation has come to an end," Cuomo said. "Okay, if it hasn't come to an end, it has certainly come to an end on collusion — they either have it or they don't have it," Giuliani replied. "How do you know?" Cuomo asked, noting that new "Manafort stuff" is "the most damning stuff to date." "Well, that's not collusion and hacking the DNC," Giuliani said, and Cuomo pushed back on Giuliani's low bar. Peter Weber

August 20, 2018

On NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, Rudy Giuliani finessed his and his client President Trump's "collusion is not a crime" talking point to attempted collusion is not a crime. In the same interview where Giuliani declared that "truth isn't truth," host Chuck Todd asked him about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner. "The meeting was originally for the purpose of getting information about [Hillary] Clinton," Giuliani said, and when Todd interjected that Giuliani had just admitted to "attempted collusion," Giuliani laughed and disagreed.

"That was the original intention of the meeting," Giuliani said. "It turned out to be a meeting about another subject and it was not pursued at all. And, of course, any meeting with regards to getting information on your opponent is something any candidate's staff would take. If someone said, 'I have information about your opponent,' you would take that meeting." "From the Russian government?" Todd asked, incredulously. "She didn't represent the Russian government," Giuliani claimed. "All they knew is that a woman with a Russian name wanted to meet with them, they didn't know she was a representative of the Russian government."

According to emails tweeted out by Donald Trump Jr., he was informed the meeting would be with a "Russian government attorney" offering dirt on Hillary Clinton from "the crown prosecutor of Russia," as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." Also, it seems increasingly likely that whether attempting and (purportedly) failing to collude is a criminal act will be decided in court. And accepting help from foreign governments in U.S. elections is, generally speaking, illegal and not common practice. Other than that, spot-on. Peter Weber

July 31, 2018

Rudy Giuliani embarked on another "chaotic media tour" Monday, and once again, "several veterans of the Trump campaign, like much of the viewing public, were left befuddled," The Daily Beast's Asawin Suebsaeng reported Monday night. Giuliani cast doubt on his client President Trump's longstanding denial of colluding with Russia in the 2016 election, arguing on CNN and Fox News that collusion isn't even a crime. Giuliani then seemed to disclose a third, previously unknown strategy meeting top Trump campaign officials allegedly held in June 2016, two days before Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner hosted Kremlin-linked Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.

CNN's Anderson Cooper tried to sort out Team Trump's shifting goal posts and explanations Monday night:

In an interview Monday night, "Giuliani appeared to blame the maelstrom he kicked up on inquisitive New York Times reporters who he suggested had compelled him to proactively spin a potentially damaging story that may or may not actually be real," Suebsaeng said. He suggested his "incredibly confusing and potentially damaging" string of interviews helped shut down inquiries from Times reporter Maggie Haberman and others who'd reached out to ask about the alleged pre-Russia meeting planning session. (Haberman told The Daily Beast she's as confused as everyone else: "We don't talk about sourcing, and wouldn't now — but I have lost the thread of what the former mayor is talking about.")

As to the merits of Giuliani's comments, "'collusion is not a crime' is hardly a bulletproof defense," Vanity Fair's Abigail Tracy explains. "'Collusion' is really shorthand for variety of activities, some legal and some illegal." More to the point, "why Trump continues to allow Giuliani to do on-camera interviews, or to keep him as an attorney at all, is something of a mystery," she adds. "Nevertheless, his sudden reappearance on the media circuit — in nervy, pugnacious form — suggests the president, too, is on edge." Peter Weber

June 8, 2018

Rudy Giuliani's appearance at a Globes conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday keeps making headlines, first with his suggesting that Kim Jong Un "begged" President Trump "on his hands and knees" to resuscitate their summit, then for his derogatory comments about Stormy Daniels, and finally for his assertion that first lady Melania Trump absolutely doesn't believe Daniels about the extramarital affair she had with Trump in 2006. Anderson Cooper played that part of Giuliani's comments on CNN Thursday night.

"Now, the first lady might have remained quiet about Mr. Giuliani saying she believes her husband and knows it's not true," Cooper said, "but instead this afternoon her communications director came out with a statement: 'I don't believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani.'"

Dana Bash called that statement "so unusual." "I mean, Anderson, it's unusual for the first lady's office in any White House to put out a statement on anything of this nature, even if they were talking about a political foe," she said. "This is the first lady's office, as you said, slapping down the president, her husband's, attorney," and "she's basically saying to him, 'Cut it out,' but she's also sending a signal in a very carefully worded statement that maybe she doesn't believe her husband. And there's no question that she left it open to interpretation."

Cooper asked legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin what's going on with Giuliani. "Well, I really think this is a question for a psychiatrist more than a legal analyst," he said. "I mean, he's just sort of riffing out there," to the point where Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also slapped Giuliani down on Thursday for his dig at Kim. Toobin added that Trump probably likes Giuliani's televised theatrics, but "I don't think Robert Mueller's office cares a whit about this stuff he says on television." Peter Weber

May 28, 2018

Rudy Giuliani, the former federal prosecutor who became a celebrated two-time mayor of New York City, ran for president, and is now one of President Trump's lawyers, decided to celebrate his 74th birthday at Yankee Stadium on Monday. When they announced his birthday, the crowd booed.

As New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman notes, this is probably a dispiriting hometown welcome for not just Giuliani but also his famous and criticism-averse client, who owns some property in the city and presumably planned to retire there. Trump has options, though — maybe Miami Marlins fans are a bit less ... boisterous. Peter Weber

May 21, 2018

On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani spoke to several news organizations to make the case that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had told him and other members of President Trump's legal team that he hopes to finish his report on whether Trump obstructed justice by Sept. 1. But that date is contingent upon a few things, most notably Trump agreeing to sit down for an interview with Mueller and his investigators. Mueller's office declined to comment.

"We said to them, 'If we're going to be interviewed in July, how much time until the report gets issued?'" Giuliani told The Associated Press on Sunday, "They said September, which is good for everyone, because no one wants this to drag into the midterms." He pointed to former FBI Director James Comey upending the 2016 election at Hillary Clinton's expense as a cautionary tale. Giuliani told AP the September report "would be the culmination of the investigation into the president." But he told The Wall Street Journal that the Sept. 1 end point had been conveyed "as a possibility" and said "we hope" the investigation ends at that point. In an interview with The Washington Post, Giuliani described Sept. 1 as "an incentive" to "do the interview."

In any case, The New York Times notes, "wrapping up the obstruction case would not signal the end of Mr. Mueller's work. That is one piece of his broader inquiry, a counterintelligence investigation into Russia's campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump associates coordinated with it. Counterintelligence investigations are used to gather information quietly about the activities of foreign powers and their agents — sometimes for years — and can result in criminal charges." Peter Weber

May 8, 2018

President Trump "is growing increasingly irritated with lawyer Rudy Giuliani's frequently off-message media blitz, in which he has muddied the waters on hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels and made claims that could complicate the president's standing in the special counsel's Russia probe," The Associated Press reports. Trump has begun telling confidantes that maybe Giuliani should "be benched" from TV, at least temporarily, AP reports, citing two people familiar with Trump's thinking.

Trump has specifically "expressed annoyance that Giuliani's theatrics have breathed new life into the Daniels story and extended its lifespan," AP says, and Politico adds that Trump's "frustration that Giuliani's media appearances are raising more questions than they are answering" was "capped by the admission Sunday that the president may have made similar payments to other women." Additionally, "Trump has grown agitated in recent days by cable news replays of Giuliani's Wednesday interview with Sean Hannity," AP reports. "Trump snapped at both men in recent days, chiding Hannity for using the word 'funneled,' which he believes had illegal connotations."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that regarding Trump's views on Giuliani, "I didn't speak with him specifically about his feelings about it but certainly feels that he is an added member — added value, member to his outside special counsel." Right now, nobody in the West Wing is eager to step in with their serious concerns about Giuliani, Politico says, "but some aides said they expect the president to fire Giuliani if his behavior doesn't change."

That's a slip from grace for Giuliani, whose hiring Trump celebrated "last month by declaring that he had enlisted 'America's F---ing Mayor' as a legal attack dog with star power," AP says, citing one Trump confidante. "But many in the White House have begun evoking comparisons with Anthony Scaramucci — who, like Giuliani, was a hard-charging New Yorker with a knack for getting TV airtime." Scaramucci lasted 11 days. Peter Weber

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