On Monday night, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani sat down with CNN’s Chris Cuomo to talk (his client) President Donald Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller, former FBI director James Comey and everything in between. It was, shall we say, a wide-ranging conversation.
I went through the transcript and grabbed the 29 most newsworthy lines. They’re below.
1. “I think I was asked a question, and I didn’t say it. I didn’t elect to say that.”
Cuomo starts the interview by asking Giuliani whether he regrets saying that Trump could shoot Comey and not be indicted for that crime. Giuliani’s response is that he “didn’t say it.” Here’s what Giuliani said to HuffPost: “If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day. Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.” Ahem.
2. “It was a hypothetical that you would entertain in law school, and that’s what I tried to say.”
Law school sounds crazy!
3. “Totally irrelevant in his case, he didn’t do anything wrong.”
4. “The Department of Justice has not covered itself with glory in this situation. They conduct this spy investigation.”
To be clear: There is zero evidence that there was anything nefarious or even out of the ordinary about the FBI’s decision to use a confidential human source to approach Carter Page and George Papadopoulos about their ties to Russians during the 2016 campaign. This was not a “spy” operation.
5. “I didn’t leak it. I’ll take a lie detector test.”
(He’s talking about the identity of the confidential source here). A lie detector test could be a very successful pay per view. Just saying.
6. “I didn’t leak it.”
So, you’re saying you didn’t leak it then?
7. “Why is it always that somebody – you think Jay Sekulow lied? Maybe he just got it wrong.”
Maybe. But Sekulow – one of Trump’s lawyers – didn’t seem to suggest he “just got it wrong” in a statement on Monday in the wake of the revelation that Trump, contra Sekulow, had dictated Donald Trump Jr.’s statement to The New York Times regarding the now-famous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. “The statement in the January letter reflects our understanding of the events that occurred,” said Sekulow. Which means he was told wrong at the time. Who could have told him wrong?
8. “That’s the danger of going under oath, that you can make a mistake.”
This may be an overly simplistic view but: If you just tell the truth, your chances of making a “mistake” go way down.
9. “I swear to God, it was a mistake. The guy made a mistake. It was corrected.”
Who is “the guy” here? Sekulow? If so, I’d refer you back to Sekulow’s statement from Monday. It does not say “I made a mistake” or anything like that. It says “the statement in the January letter reflects our understanding of the events that occurred.” Again, that means that he was saying what he had been told the situation was – that Trump had not dictated the Don Jr. statement. Why did Sekulow think that? And why does Giuliani keep arguing it was a mistake by someone if there is no evidence that that’s what happened here?
10. “Had he testified under oath before they concluded a grand jury investigation, he’d have a right to recant it.”
OK. I know I am harping on this. But if the “he” here is Sekulow, then I just can’t get past his statement, which makes clear that he was operating under information he was told at the time. There is no mention of a “mistake” in Sekulow’s Monday statement.
11. “I think a mistake was made at the very early stages of an investigation. I don’t mean an investigation, very early stages of a representation by a lawyer, which happens all the time.”
Repeat after me: Sekulow didn’t acknowledge any mistake in his statement. None.
12. “I have no idea how they got it wrong, but they got it wrong.”
I have an idea! Call on me!
13. “This began as an investigation of colluding with the Russians.”
It did not. This began as an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The special counsel was also tasked with exploring the possibility of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, but that was not the only or even prime directive here.
14. “All this other stuff about obstruction, and duh, duh, duh, you can’t obstruct a crime that was never committed.”
You can obstruct an investigation without an underlying crime. It’s explained right here.
15. “If [Mueller] issued a subpoena, it would be immediately dismissed, because the [Office of Legal Counsel] says you can’t subpoena a sitting president.”
There’s significantly more gray area in the issue of whether a president can be subpoenaed than Giuliani is letting on here. Read this.
16. “We could have raised executive privilege all over the place, as prior presidents have, and probably won on some of them, maybe not all.”
We could have done a thing that probably wouldn’t have worked in most cases. But we could have done it – and we didn’t!
17. “You can’t find a criminal lawyer that you can put on the screen, Democrat, Republican, pro- Trump, anti-Trump, that would ever let their client testify in a situation like this.”
This is true. But it’s true in no small part to how unreliable Trump has been as a witness when deposed in the past and the fact that his story about what he knew and what he did during the 2016 election keeps changing.
18. “He didn’t do anything wrong, but the world isn’t that simple.”
A remarkable statement by the public face of the legal team for the President of the United States. He’s innocent, but the legal system is sort of untrustworthy, so he can’t trust it.
19. “I tell you what, I tell you what, we will make a gentleman’s agreement – that one of us will buy the other dinner if I’m wrong and they’re not concealing this because they did something, seriously damaging things, to themselves.”
Here’s the thing: There is no public evidence that the use of a human confidential source in the course of the Russia investigation violated any sort of protocol at all. And remember that the Justice Department has briefed Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) about all of this. If there was something nefarious going on, you don’t think it would have leaked after those briefings? And, in fact, Gowdy has said recently that the FBI did everything by the book!
20. “But we got 13 angry Democrats investigating a President who happens to be a Republican.”
There’s no question that some members of Mueller’s special counsel team gave money to Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates. At the same time, the leader of the investigation, Mueller, is a Republican who was first appointed FBI director by President George W. Bush. Mueller’s boss, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, was a Trump nominee. The idea that this is a Democrat-controlled investigation isn’t borne out.
21. “The practical limitation is – the practical limitation is, it would be suicide to pardon yourself.”
22. “He’s not a lawyer. He is not a lawyer.”
This is Giuliani’s amazing explanation for why Trump tweeted he has an “absolute right” to pardon himself despite the fact that it’s not at all clear he does. He’s not a lawyer! He can say whatever he wants without any legal basis! What’s that you say? He’s the President of the United States and should hold himself to a higher standard of truth and facts than that? Pish posh!
23. “I used to be in charge of the Pardon Attorney’s Office.”
You mean the office that Trump did not consult with when he pardoned Dinesh D’Souza?
24. “I recommended pardons probably in worse cases like that to Ronald Reagan.”
You think Trump’s pardons are bad? You should have seen Reagan’s!!!!
25. “Ronald Reagan did over 900 pardons.”
He pardoned George Steinbrenner! (Here’s the full list.)
26. “That’s a damn game to get yourself in the newspapers, which may have been the beginning of the Jim Comey who eventually illegally leaked the memo.”
And you didn’t think there was a connection between Martha Stewart and Comey authorizing the leak of a memo to trigger a special counsel investigation. Boom! There’s always a link in Trumpworld.
27. “I am a lawyer, and it’s my job to defend my client. I am proud of what I’m doing. I’m proud of my client. He has done nothing wrong.”
28. “You know I enjoy this.”
I absolutely do know that.
29. “This is what happens at an Italian Thanksgiving dinner.”
This feels like a good place to end.