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Answering Mueller's questions may not have been 'easy' after all

Trump last month: "I have answered [Mueller's questions] very easily." Giuliani this month: "Answering those questions was a nightmare."
Image: President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office
President Donald Trump speaks before signing an executive order establishing regulatory reform officers and task forces in US agencies in Washington, DC on February 24, 2017.

The Atlantic's Elaina Plott has a new report on Donald Trump's team preparing for a report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and the degree to which those efforts aren't going well. The piece has quite a few interesting insights, but this was one of the tidbits that stood out for me:

Giuliani said it's been difficult in the last few months to even consider drafting response plans, or devote time to the "counter-report" he claimed they were working on this summer, as he and Trump confronted Mueller's written questions about the 2016 campaign."Answering those questions was a nightmare," he told me. "It took him about three weeks to do what would normally take two days."

We talked earlier about the trajectory of the elusive "counter-report," but let's also take a moment to consider what else Giuliani conceded in the interview.

After months of clumsy negotiations, the special counsel's office submitted a series of written questions to the White House, and just a few weeks ago, the president was eager to boast about the answers he claims to have personally prepared.

"I write the answers." Trump insisted. "My lawyers don't write answers, I write answers. I was asked a series of questions. I have answered them very easily. Very easily.... The questions were very routinely answered by me. By me. Okay?"

Even at the time, the president's rhetoric seemed ridiculous. Now, however, it seems a little worse.

After all, a high-profile member of his own legal team just admitted, out loud and on the record, that answering those questions was "a nightmare" -- in part because a process that "would normally take two days" took Donald Trump "about three weeks."

At this point, I imagine Giuliani will soon say that he misspoke and that, in reality, the president is the greatest question-answerer who's ever walked the earth. He'll no doubt be very sorry about the confusion generated by his accidental candor, I mean, embarrassing mistake.

But for all of Giuliani's dishonesty, I have a hunch his "nightmare" claim was a rare peek into what actually happened.