Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani sat down with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Friday morning to talk about President Donald Trump’s ongoing cold war with the special counsel investigation, his views on the raid of Michael Cohen’s office and house and lots and lots of other things.
In short: Giuliani, who is the face of Trump’s legal team, made a whole lot of news in the span of the 40-minute interview with Cuomo. Below, I’ve picked out the 35 most newsworthy and noteworthy lines from Giuliani this morning.
1. “Narrowing the subjects for questioning down to about two.”
This is big news, assuming what Giuliani says about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is accurate. Giuliani and the Trump legal team have been pushing hard on Mueller to narrow the scope of his questions, which, reportedly, totaled more than four dozen when the special counsel’s team met with the Trump lawyers. If Mueller has agreed to narrow his planned questions, that would a) be a victory for the Trump legal operation and b) make it more likely that Trump would sit down with the special counsel.
2. “The main focus that we want, I can tell you, simply is Russia.”
This is Giuliani’s read-out of what Mueller wants from Trump. Which is interesting given that reporting suggests that Mueller is asking lots of questions about the firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI director James Comey. Giuliani’s comment to Cuomo here suggests that Mueller isn’t interested in asking Trump about that.
3. “Here’s the issue that I really feel strongly about with this informant, if there is one. First of all, I don’t know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one. We’re told that.”
Ok. So, Giuliani feels “strongly” about an informant who was placed in the Trump campaign by federal officials as a sort of mole. Except, he also admits he is not sure that actually happened.
The allegation – which Trump has made regularly on Twitter of late – stems from this line in a huge New York Times look at the origins of the investigation into Russian meddling: “At least one government informant met several times with Mr. [Carter] Page and Mr. [George] Papadopoulos.”
4. “At one time the president thought it was a wiretap. There were – there were – there were some FISA applications. We’ve never been notified that he was on a – on a tap or an intercept.”
In March 2017, Trump tweeted this: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
This has never been proven to be true. And Giuliani is now acknowledging it.
5. “Look, they should tell us if it was. I mean they – they – the obligation is on them to tell us.”
Giuliani insists here that if the Department of Justice did have an informant in the Trump campaign, they need to immediately let the White House know about it. To be clear: Giuliani has said moments before that he had no idea whether or not such an informant actually exists.
6. “The FBI came to the conclusion there was no evidence of collusion with Russia. End of case.”
Not accurate. Giuliani is citing the Times report as evidence that there was “no collusion.” But that’s not what the Times story says. Here’s what it does say: “Top officials became convinced that there was almost no chance they would answer the question of collusion before Election Day.”
Knowing you won’t be able to draw any conclusions about collusion by a date certain is not the same thing as concluding there is no collusion. It’s very, very different.
7. “Comey is a flat-out leaker.”
There is no question that Comey gave unclassified memos to a friend with the purpose of having those memos leaked and triggering a special counsel investigation.
8. ” He then does something for which FBI agents would be fired and maybe go to jail.”
This is a BIG claim. Sure, Giuliani hedges it somewhat with with “maybe.” My guess is Giuliani is just talking and doesn’t know any specifics.
9. “Because he’s a damn liar. Jim Comey is – can’t be trust on anything.”
Giuliani is part of a broader campaign by Trump and his allies to totally and completely discredit Comey and, by extension, Mueller. If polling is to be believed – and it is – it’s working as public trust and approval of Mueller and Comey has dipped recently.
10. ” The question of whether there was collusion with the Russians had been resolved in the first investigation by the FBI which “The Times” revealed”
[narrator voice]: They didn’t.
11. “There were five reasons to fire Rosenstein.”
Giuliani misspoke here. He meant that there were five reasons to fire Comey. But, given Trump’s dissatisfaction with the Mueller investigation and Rosenstein’s decision to name a special counsel in the first place, it’s a telling slip.
12. “If I were the attorney general, the case would be dismissed over the improprieties of the case.”
That noise you hear is Giuliani pushing Attorney General Jeff Sessions under the bus. After praising Sessions and saying that they have been friends for three decades, Giuliani makes clear that not only would be have not recused himself in the Russia investigation, he would have already ended the investigation himself!
13. “He’s scared that he’s going to – he’s going to have this thing kind of land on him.”
Happy Friday morning, Rod Rosenstein! You named Mueller as special counsel because you were scared and were trying to stay away from getting blamed for this whole investigation!
14. ” explain to me why they even need an interview with the president if it isn’t to try to trap him into perjury, which is what the judge in the [former Trump campaign chairman Paul] Manafort case has said about them. They basically are trapping people into perjury.”
A very spin-ny way to cast the idea of Trump sitting down with Mueller. Seen another way: If the president of the United States simply tells the truth – and it actually the truth – then he has no problems. Right?
15. “The President would testify tomorrow if it was about the truth. The truth is he had nothing to do with Russia. I was on that campaign. He didn’t talk to Russians.”
To be clear: The special counsel investigation is about Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Russian government by members of his campaign. Whether or not Trump talked to the Russians or had anything to do with the Russians is not the sole focus of the investigation. Also, if Mueller isn’t interested in the truth of what Trump knows, what is he interested in?
16. “Martha Stewart never would have gone to jail if she hadn’t gone and testified.”
OR: “Martha Stewart never would have gone to jail if she hadn’t lied during her testimony.”
17. “Out of habit he defends himself against the press.”
Whether you like or hate the media, Trump’s casual relationship with the truth has very little to do with the press. During his first year in office, Trump said more than 3,000 things that were either misleading or totally false, according to the Washington Post. The media fact checks Trump, for sure. But, portraying his tendency to veer away from truth as simply a reaction to the media coverage he gets is a reach. A big reach.
18. “You don’t go into a man’s house in a morning for a case that is 10 years old.”
Giuliani seems to be speaking somewhat out of school here about the raid of Cohen’s house, hotel room and office. He has no inside knowledge of why the FBI carried out the raid. Remember that they had a warrant. They didn’t conduct some sort of lawless forced entry. Or anything close to it.
19. “Do you get a big liar like Comey, [former deputy FBI director Andrew] McCabe in the FBI, a guy with a conflict from day one on the Hillary investigation which is why he is lying to cover his ass? Of course. You get bad people in the FBI.”
Wow. WOW. Giuliani is a former US Attorney and someone who has spent a lifetime working in and with the Justice Department. And yet, this.
Also, Trump appears to be singing from the same songbook. Here’s his tweet from this morning: “Why isn’t disgraced FBI official Andrew McCabe being investigated for the $700,000 Crooked Hillary Democrats in Virginia, led by Clinton best friend Terry M (under FBI investigation that they killed) gave to McCabe’s wife in her run for office? Then dropped case on Clinton!”
20. “I’m not a muscle guy. Get out of here.”
I, too, am not a “muscle guy.”
21. “It never would have occurred to me they would try to subpoena the President.”
Hmmmm. Giuliani never considered the possibility that Mueller and his team might consider subpoenaing Trump? That seems unlikely.
22. “I would go right to the attorney general and say, Jeff, put on your big boy pants.”
First of all, the image of Giuliani telling Sessions to put on his “big boy pants” is something. Second, Giuliani is talking here about the idea of what the Justice Department should do if Mueller tries to compel Trump to testify.
23. “Then I go to Rosenstein and say you put on your big boy pants.”
And you put on your big boy pants! And you put on your big boy pants!
24. “I believe we can work out conditions.”
Big deal. Giuliani says here that although lots of lawyers affiliated with Trump don’t believe a deal can be worked out for the president to sit down with Mueller, he and Trump do. Which backs up my long-time belief that Trump, deep down, wants to sit down with Mueller.
25. “I would say we’re talking about a difference between two hours and six.”
So, the only thing standing in the way of Trump and Mueller sitting down is a debate over how long he is willing to be interviewed? I am no professional negotiator but what if we settled on four hours?
26. “[Trump] is going to tell the truth.”
So we’ve got that going for us.
27. “He’s wrong. I know more about the case than he does.”
Who’s wrong? And who does Giuliani know more about the Russia case than? None other than current FBI Director Chris Wray, Donald Trump’s hand-picked replacement for the fired Comey. So, well, OK. Giuliani has never lacked for self confidence.
28. “He doesn’t want to put anybody in jail. The president hasn’t suggested putting any of you guys in jail.”
’They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk.” – Donald Trump on journalists, according to Comey.
29. “The Times said there was no evidence of connection between President Trump and Russia.”
I think Giuliani is referring here to an October 31 piece in the Times headlined: “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia.”
Then there is this line in the Times piece published earlier this week on the investigation (italics mine): “A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Mr. Trump’s advisers to the hacking or linking Mr. Trump himself to the Russian government’s disruptive efforts.”
Two important points: 1) Public evidence isn’t the same thing as “evidence” and 2) The Mueller investigation is ongoing.
30. CUOMO: “You don’t think the president can obstruct justice?” GIULIANI: “He can.”
A short sentence but an important point. Back in December, John Dowd, who was then on Trump’s legal team, said specifically that the president, as the chief law enforcement office in the country, cannot obstruct justice. Giuliani apparently disagrees.
31. CUOMO: “Do you think this interview has been unfair?” GIULIANI: “Yes, I do.”
Good times. Good times.
32. “I don’t understand how a man can be prosecuted when you come to a conclusion he didn’t do anything wrong.”
To be clear: The FBI investigation Giuliani keeps referring to doesn’t say conclusively Trump did nothing wrong. It says no evidence had come to light of wrongdoing. Again, this is an active investigation we are talking about.
33. “I just learned that the word ‘lead’ is spelled L-E-D-E?”
In the interest of candor: I had been a reporter for at least five years before I knew that.
34. “I’m a lawyer. This is what I do best.”
Interesting. Especially since Giuiiani thought enough of his political skills to put himself forward as a candidate for president in 2008.
35. “I’m a knight of the empire so I should be there.”
This feels like a good place to end.