President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and CNN’s Jake Tapper provided a jaw-dropping televised interview that reminded viewers why Tapper is so highly regarded an interviewer and why Giuliani has earned a reputation for dropping details that end up hurting his client’s standing in the court of public opinion.
The timeliness of this interview could not be better in terms of the news cycle as just last week Giuliani oddly claimed to CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he never claimed there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia (he had.)
Also, on Thursday night Buzzfeed News ran a “bombshell” report claiming Trump had directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about business dealings with Russia. The office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller pushed back on that report citing vague inaccuracies, which Trump has used to debunk the entire report. BuzzFeed News stands by its reporting and has sought details on what the Special Counsel claims were inaccurate, though nothing has thus far emerged.
So this was the context of a home run booking and 18+ minutes of crazy that any political news-junkie would love. Here are just a few highlights to have emerged from nearly 20 minutes of bonkers cable news content that represents both the best and worst of who we are as a species:
1. Giuliani Claims Trump didn’t lie to American people about Russian business dealings
Throughout his candidacy and early part of his term as president, Donald Trump claimed that he had no business dealings with Russia of any sort. That, however, turns out to have not been true now that we know that Michael Cohen was negotiating a Trump Tower Moscow deal in late 2016.
As such, Tapper asked, “Did President Trump or anyone on the Trump team ever have a conversation with Michael Cohen about his congressional testimony?” to which Giuliani replied “The President didn’t lie to the American people about it … He wasn’t talking to people in Russia about anything.”
In Giuliani’s account Trump “wasn’t talking to people in Russia about anything. He didn’t talk to people in Russia at all. It was — not a single stitch of evidence — it was an early-stage proposal that never got beyond a nonbinding letter of intent run by Michael Cohen. It was his project and being done while Donald Trump was running for president of the United States and wasn’t focused on that at all.”
Rudy Giuliani claimed that BuzzFeed News should be investigated and sued for last week’s story alleging Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow deal.
“The reality is, yesterday BuzzFeed published a story that was scandalous,” Guilani said. “It was horrible. They should be under — they should be sued, under investigation. They said the president of the United States counseled someone to lie and the special counsel…because you have a hysteria going on in the media that interprets everything against Donald Trump.”
3. Trump MAY have Spoken to Cohen about Trump Tower Testimony
Tapper plainly asked if “President Trump or anyone on the Trump team talk to Michael Cohen about his congressional testimony before he gave congressional testimony or after he gave congressional testimony?” Giuliani pleaded ignorance, saying that he “wasn’t the lawyer at the time,” before suggesting that a Trump-Cohen talk might have taken place.
“If he had any discussions with him, they’d be about the version of the events that Michael Cohen gave them which they all believe was true.”
Tapper: “You just acknowledged that it’s possible that president Trump talked to Michael Cohen about his testimony.”
Giuliani: “Which would be perfectly normal. Which the president believed was true.”
4. Giuliani Believes Michael Cohen
At issue in this whole episode is the veracity of former and current statements made by Cohen. Yes, he has lied in the past and has admitted to doing so in legal documents as part of his guilty plea.
Regarding Cohen’s testimony and possible discussion with Trump and his surrogates, Giuliani said “if he had any discussions with him, they’d be about the version of the events that Michael Cohen gave them which they all believe was true. I believed it was true. I still believe it may be true.”
5. Except that Michael Cohen is a “serial liar.”
In the same breath as above, Giuliani called Cohen a “serial liar” that can never be trusted. Confused? Yeah, that might be the point.
“Unlike these people who want to just believe him, I believe Michael Cohen is a serial liar,” Giuliani claimed before adding “If you can figure out what Michael Cohen is telling the truth, you’re better than I am, that’s what happened to BuzzFeed. They bought a totally phony story.”
So Cohen was telling the truth to Congress which would ostensibly be the exception that proves the “serial liar” rule.
Numerous attacks made by Trump towards Michael Cohen’s father-in-law have been called out as witness tampering and/or obstruction of justice. But in Giuliani’s eyes, all is fair and love and war, and Trump is just fighting back in his own self-defense.
Tapper asked Giuliani “The president is repeatedly calling publicly on Judge Jeanine show, on Twitter, an investigation into the father-in-law. Isn’t that obstruction or –”
Giuliani quickly interrupted saying “No, it’s defending yourself.”
Tapper followed up by asking “So it’s okay to go after the father-in-law?”
“Of course it is if the father-in-law is a criminal in the Southern District of New York,” Giuliani replied, before suggesting mob ties., saying “His father-in-law was — he may have ties to something called organized crime.”
A stunned Tapper replied, “Because he’s Ukrainian?”
Giuliani then made the very strange decision of raising Michael Cohen’s alleged connection to “organized crime” and “band fraud,” before resolving with “when somebody testifies against your client, you go out and you look at what’s wrong with them. Why are they doing it if they’re not telling the truth? He’s doing it because he’s afraid to testify against his father-in-law because the repercussions for that will be far worse than the repercussions for lying here because now he gets reported in New York where the crazy anti-Trumpers applaud for him.”
Watch above via CNN.
[Featured image via screengrab]
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