President Donald Trump seems to believe that Rudy Giuliani is a really, really good surrogate for him when it comes to fighting back against the ongoing special counsel probe into Russia's attempted interference in the 2016 election. What else could explain Giuliani's ubiquity on cable television?
Which brings me to Monday morning and a thrill-ride of a performance by Giuliani on CNN's "New Day." There was so much said in the interview that condensing it all into one news story is truly impossible. So, below, I've picked out the 37 oddest lines from the Giuliani sit-down.
1. "It's good, it's attention-grabbing."
This is Donald Trump 101 -- and expert channeling of the boss by Giuliani. Context: CNN's Alisyn Camerota is asking Giuliani to provide any sort of evidence of the conflict of interest that Trump alleges -- in a tweet -- that special counsel Robert Mueller has toward him. Giuliani is in the process of dodging the question when he throws in this encomium to Trumpism.
In the words of Chazz Michael Michaels: "No one knows what it means, but it's provocative."
2. "When you're getting beaten up by all kinds of anonymous tweets you know are coming from Lanny Davis and Cohen..."
If the tweets are anonymous than how can he know who they are coming from? Wheels within wheels.
3. "Mueller, stand up and be a man."
"He's a patriot, a good man, served his country -- did a good job with the FBI. I don't think he would be affected by malice or prejudice." -- Rudy Giuliani on Robert Mueller, May 2018
4. "I can't tell you. I'm not sure exactly what the conflict is. I have a good idea of what it is -- it's one that would have kept me out of the investigation."
So. Giuliani doesn't know what the conflict of interest that Mueller has in regard to Trump. But it's definitely bad! (Also we do know of one alleged conflict: Mueller left as a member of a Trump golf club in Virginia -- and Trump insists there was some debate over whether Mueller's dues would be refunded.)
5. "Mueller hasn't contributed to a Republican, he worked for Obama and worked for Republicans."
Wait, wait. So, Bob Mueller is a Democrat? The Bob Mueller who was appointed as FBI director by George W. Bush? The Bob Mueller who was chosen as special counsel by Donald Trump's deputy attorney general? The Bob Mueller who Fox News called the "only Republican" on the special counsel team? That guy? Um, OK.
6. "Andrew Weissmann, you know who Andrew Weissmann is -- he's a complete scoundrel."
Weissman is the member of Mueller's team prosecuting former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort -- a trial which starts on Tuesday. (Weissman is also tasked with investigating deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, who had pleaded guilty and is now cooperating with the special counsel probe.) Weissman was previously an assistant US attorney in New York, focused on organized crime and Wall Street wrongdoing. His sin, in the eyes of Giuliani, is that he donated money to Barack Obama in 2008 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. So, "scoundrel."
7. "It's up to the President to describe it in further detail if he elects to do so. Or if Mueller would like to explain why it's not a conflict, I invite Bob to do it."
Follow this logic if you dare: Trump alleges a business conflict of interest with Mueller but doesn't elaborate. Giuliani refuses to do so either but does note that it's on Mueller to reveal this alleged conflict of interest. Perfect!
8. "It's Mueller who possibly hasn't disclosed the conflict."
"Possibly hasn't disclosed." So we have an allegation of a conflict of interest from Trump. We have no details offered by either the President or his lawyer. And we have his lawyer admitting that Mueller may not have disclosed this alleged conflict.
9. "I think he was hoping maybe it had passed Mueller by or maybe he had he gotten over it."
Why didn't Trump or anyone around him raise this allegedly glaring conflict of interest about Mueller around the time he was appointed special counsel last spring? Because Trump, consistent with what we know about him, was trying to give Mueller the benefit of the doubt about getting over his grudge. Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket.
10. "We have 183 unique tape recordings."
There are 182 other conversations that one-time Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen secretly recorded!?! Holy moly.
11. "Cohen always goes too far, and when you're lying, there's always a trap for you. He said there was a one-on-one meeting that Donald Jr. came in and told him about the meeting was about to take place."
I've not seen Cohen claim there was a "one-on-one meeting" between President Trump and his son, Don Jr., where the information about a planned meeting with the Russians in June 2016 was passed. This is how CNN broke the news of Cohen's story contradicting the Trumps' account (emphasis mine): "Cohen alleges that he was present, along with several others, when Trump was informed of the Russians' offer by Trump Jr. By Cohen's account, Trump approved going ahead with the meeting with the Russians, according to sources."
12. "Also in all of these months and all of these tapes, [Cohen's] never said it. And all of a sudden it appears now when he's maybe going to go to jail and singing for himself."
Fair point here by Giuliani. The timing of when Cohen has decided to make clear he not only knows Trump is lying about the Russia meeting but that he is willing to tell Mueller all about it is suspicious because of his own perceived legal peril.
13. "We're being aimed at by a -- luckily, not a very artful liar -- but a liar."
"I do not expect that Michael Cohen is going to lie." -- Rudy Giuliani, July 2018
14. "What I think and what I know may be two different things."
That's some next-level stuff by Giuliani. He's channeling Vizzini from the "The Princess Bride" here.
15. "I know how convinced he is that he didn't do anything wrong and wants to explain it and I've seen other people get into trouble thinking that, innocent people."
The "why" behind Giuliani's much-stated opposition to Trump talking to Mueller? He's afraid Trump, who is totally innocent, might "get into trouble." Do tell...
16. "I guess the judgment's out."
That's Giuliani on Mueller on Monday. Here's Giuliani on Mueller last month: "He's a patriot, a good man, served his country -- did a good job with the FBI. I don't think he would be affected by malice or prejudice."
17. "We're going to do obstruction by tweet on a President of United States as an article of impeachment?"
"Obstruction by tweet" is a terrific phrase.
18. "And [Mueller] has no incriminating information incriminating of the President."
This is the least incriminating incrimination that has ever incriminated.
19. "I mean that just -- four months, they are not going to be colluding about Russians which I'm not -- I don't even know if that's a crime, colluding about Russians."
A remarkable piece of goalpost-moving by Giuliani here. Trump has spent the last year yelling "no collusion." Now, his personal attorney is saying that even if there was collusion it isn't a crime? Riiiiiight.
20. "You start analyzing the crime. The hacking is the crime."
Well, no. The issue is the widespread attempt by Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. Yes, the hacking into Democratic email accounts is part of the broader picture. But it's not the full broader picture.
21. "Nobody can be sure of anything."
Wise words, Rudy. And true!
22. "I have to say sorry, I made a mistake, the guy is unethical, he's a scumbag, he's a horrible person."
Scratch Giuliani off the Cohen family holiday card list!
23. "I can be on all day if you wanted."
This is the lead lawyer for a man who has made his political career by insisting the media is fake and dying. And yet, both Giuliani and his client seem to love cable TV...
24. "I just need a little coffee."
25. "George Washington would have said that about Benedict Arnold at a certain point of time."
Two things here. First, Giuliani is using a historical comparison in which he is George Washington in an attempt to explain his previously positive statements about Cohen. Second, go read "Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold and the fate of the American Revolution." It is amazing.
26. "[Trump] turned out to have a close friend betray him like Iago betrayed Othello, and Brutus put the last knife into Caesar -- I think they both trusted those people."
Much like Peter Pettigrew betrayed Sirius Black and James and Lily Potter!
27. "I can't tell you whether he would pardon him."
Amazing! Giuliani has spent minute after minute running down Michael Cohen as the world's biggest liar and scumball. And yet, he won't rule out Trump pardoning Cohen!
28. "I'm not denigrating Michael Cohen's character."
HA HA HA HA HAHA ... wait, Giuliani is serious.
29. "I've practiced law for a long time, if you tape record your client and lie to your client about (it), you have no character. You forfeited your character."
"I'm not denigrating Michael Cohen's character." -- Rudy Giuliani, in, literally, the last sentence.
30. "I just know that you don't do that with a tape and expect that it's going to be admitted into evidence."
Giuliani is making the case here that the secretly recorded tape of Trump and Cohen talking about former Playboy model Karen McDougal shouldn't even be part of the Mueller investigation. His argument isn't that it's been doctored. Only that the tape cuts off. But the insinuation is clear.
31. "More likely is, he came back home, he erased the portion that he wanted erased and then he tried to tape record a conversation that appears with Don Jr., might have gotten that too, and then he erased that."
To be clear: Giuliani has zero evidence Cohen did this. He might have! But Giuliani is simply throwing this chum in the water, knowing the conspiracy-minded among Trump's base will seize on it.
32. "Alisyn, come on, be fair, they weren't talking about the Playboy model."
33. "He was doctoring tapes. He doctored at the word 'check' he cut the tape off. That's called doctoring a tape."
That depends on what the meaning of "doctoring" is.
34. "It's a horrible thing that Mueller is doing."
"He's a patriot, a good man, served his country -- did a good job with the FBI. I don't think he would be affected by malice or prejudice." -- Giuliani, two months ago
35. "No, it's starting to get useless."
"I can be on all day if you wanted." -- Giuliani, moments before
36. "I'll be here with my version of the report and they'll have their version of the report and the American people, in that sense, are going to decide it."
This is absolutely key as to what Trump and Giuliani are -- and have been -- working at. Yes, Mueller will issue a report. But, Giuliani and Trump will issue their rebuttal in an attempt to undermine whatever the Mueller report says. Because they view discrediting Mueller -- a former FBI chief -- as an absolutely necessary step in "winning" this fight. Which, in case you forgot, is about Russia's active interference in the 2016 election and the country's plan to do it again.
37. "It was worth it."
Was it? Really?
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