Rudy Giuliani made a great many media appearances last week, and by any fair measure, they didn’t go especially well. Donald Trump, reflecting on his lawyer’s performance after two weeks on the job, told reporters on Friday, “He started yesterday. He’ll get his facts straight.”
That may have been wishful thinking.
On Saturday night, the former New York City mayor sat down with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro – who, coincidentally, is reportedly serving as an informal adviser to the president, making this an interview in which one Trump confidant was interviewing another – and he didn’t do his client any favors.
For example, referring to Michael Cohen’s hush-money payoff to Stormy Daniels shortly before Election Day 2016, Giuliani said, “Even if it was a campaign donation, the president reimbursed it fully with a payment of $35,000 a month, that paid for that and other expenses. No need to go beyond that. Case over.” First, that’s legally wrong, and second, the last thing Giuliani should be saying about the payment is, “Even if it was a campaign donation….”
In the same interview, he added, “I am an expert on the law, in particular the campaign finance law.” There’s considerable evidence to the contrary.
Yesterday morning, Giuliani just kept talking, sitting down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, and managing to dig himself into a deeper ditch. What was the key takeaway? Take your pick. It mattered, for example, when the president’s lawyer said Trump may refuse to comply if subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What happens if Robert Mueller subpoenas the president? Will you comply?
GIULIANI: Well, we don’t have to. He’s the president of the United States.
It similarly mattered when Giuliani raised the prospect of Trump invoking his Fifth Amendment privileges.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you – he has briefed you on the topics he wants to discuss. Are you confident the president will not take the Fifth in this case?
GIULIANI: How can I ever be confident of that?
He also didn’t rule out the possibility that there may be other women from Trump’s personal life whom Cohen paid.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve said this was a regular arrangement he had with Michael Cohen. So did Michael Cohen make payments to other women for the president?
GIULIANI: I have no knowledge of that but I would think if it was necessary, yes. He made payments for the president or he’s conducted business for the president.
Yeah, this is going well.
For sheer entertainment value, it was difficult not to marvel at the part of the interview in which Giuliani seemed to refer to his own comments as “rumors.” For example, the presidential attorney told BuzzFeed last week that Cohen and Trump spoke after the election about being reimbursed for paying off the porn star. It led to this exchange yesterday:
STEPHANOPOULOS: The other day you also told BuzzFeed, though, that at some point after the 2016 election, Michael Cohen had complained to some people that he hadn’t been paid by Donald Trump. And then you said Cohen met with Trump and told him and Giuliani said that we’ll cover your expenses, they work out this $35,000 a month retainer after that. So the president did know about this after the campaign?
GIULIANI: Can’t say that. I mean, at some point, yes but it could have been recently, it could have been a while back. Those are the facts that we’re still working on. And that, you know, may be in a little bit of dispute. This is more rumor than it is anything else. But –
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that’s what you said. You said that to BuzzFeed.
GIULIANI: Well, yeah, I mean, that’s one of the possibilities and one of the rumors. The reality is –
STEPHANOPOULOS: You stated it as fact.
GIULIANI: Well, maybe I did. But I – right now, I’m at the point where I’m learning and I can only – I can’t prove that, I can just say it’s rumor. I can prove it’s rumor but I can’t prove it’s fact. Yet. Maybe we will.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’ve said as a matter of fact on Hannity and BuzzFeed, you talked to the Washington Post about it.
GIULIANI: I don’t know how you separate fact and opinion.
It’s only a matter of time before Giuliani starts telling journalists, “What is reality, anyway?”