Rudy Giuliani said Thursday President Donald Trump’s new lawyers have not held a lengthy prep session with the President for a potential interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, at least not since he joined the legal team in late April.
The former New York City mayor added that he’s informally asked Trump specific questions about the matter.
Giuliani said the discussions about preparing the President were merely a precaution at this point and dismissed a suggestion that the discussions meant an interview with Mueller is happening.
Most people around the President say that sitting for an interview would be a big mistake, though Trump said last week that he would “love to speak” with Mueller on the condition that he’s “treated fairly.”
“Look, you never know. It sharpens up all our answers then,” Giuliani told CNN about informally prepping the President. “Then we’re not guessing at what the President knows. We know whether to say it or not.”
According to Giuliani, real negotiations with the Mueller team about a potential interview are not currently happening in earnest because the special counsel’s team is tied up in Virginia federal court over a case involving Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, while Trump also is focused on North Korea and Iran.
There is no indication, however, that the entire Mueller team is devoted to the Manafort case or that it would impede preparations for a Trump interview. Only two trial attorneys from Mueller’s office, Andrew Weissmann and Greg Andres, and two appellate lawyers have been in court prosecuting Manafort’s Virginia case, while Mueller’s team has 17 total lawyers on staff. A prosecutor from Northern Virginia’s US Attorney’s Office is also assisting on the case.
The special counsel’s office declined to comment.
“(The detainee release) is just going to lead into heavy negotiations with North Korea to try to get a meeting that is on our terms, or at least good terms, and it’s going to be hard to interrupt him and I wouldn’t do it unless it was an emergency,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani added that Trump’s attention to foreign affairs means his legal team “couldn’t really get him prepared” and that the legal team would need “two or three days,” to prepare the President.
Giuliani appears to be borrowing an argument used by attorneys for then-President Bill Clinton. When independent counsel Ken Starr pursued questions about Monica Lewinsky from Clinton, the President’s lawyers delayed his testimony because of pressing foreign relations issues. Clinton used meetings with the British Prime Minister, instability in Iraq and a foreign travel schedule to hold off the grand jury interview for six months until prosecutors subpoenaed the President.
CNN reported in April that Trump had begun some preliminary preparation for a possible interview, which sources at the time described as short and informal review of potential topics. The President recently added several lawyers to his team, including Giuliani.
The former mayor said he believes the legal team should hold a news conference when it reaches a decision on a Mueller interview.
“The public is entitled to hear the reasons for that. I would think the special counsel would have one too,” Giuliani said.
The special counsel’s office has been silent in making public statements about its ongoing investigations and discussions with the President’s team, and instead has used court filings to dribble out details about developments in the criminal cases it’s pursuing.
CNN’s Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.