Rudy “truth isn’t truth” Giuliani was at it again over the holiday weekend.
In at least five interviews with the press over a two-day period, Giuliani made confusing and often contradictory statements while attempting to spin reports that President Trump and Michael Cohen were in contact about constructing a Trump Tower Moscow in the months leading up to the 2016 election.
Initially, Giuliani was dispatched to crow over the special counsel’s unusual decision to discredit a BuzzFeed article reporting that Trump told Cohen to lie about these communications. But, as so often happens, Giuliani himself became the story.
The President’s personal attorney first divulged major new information on Sunday live on television: that discussions about the project between Trump and Cohen continued up through “October, November” 2016.
Some 24 hours later, Giuliani was backtracking, saying he was just speaking in “hypothetical” terms and didn’t actually have any firsthand knowledge about the conversations between the two men. Not long after that, Giuliani changed the conversation yet again, chatting about the existence of many taped conversations between Trump and Cohen.
The whirlwind of interviews did little to clarify the true version of events, but they allowed Giuliani to hammer home his favorite argument: whatever Trump did, it wasn’t a crime.
Giuliani’s interviews are often so all over the place that it seems ill-advised to treat him as a credible, reliable witness — even Trump is reportedly getting frustrated by his ham-handed public performances. But Giuliani has inadvertently revealed accurate information before, such as the time he divulged that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the hush money paid out to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
So it’s worth keeping track. Here’s what Giuliani said over the weekend, in his own words:
On the Trump Tower Moscow discussions: “Well, it’s our understanding that it — that they went on throughout 2016. Weren’t a lot of them, but there were conversations. Can’t be sure of the exact date. But the president can remember having conversations . . . about it.”
“The president also remembers — yeah, probably up — could be up to as far as October, November. Our answers [in written statements to special counsel Robert Mueller] cover until the election. So anytime during that period, they could’ve talked about it. But the President’s recollection of it is that the thing had petered out quite a bit.”
On whether Trump spoke to Cohen about his congressional testimony ahead of time: “I don’t know if it happened or didn’t happen. It may be attorney-client privilege if it happened, where I can’t acknowledge it. But I have no knowledge that he spoke to him, but I’m telling you I wasn’t there then.”
“So what if he talked to him about it?”
On what Trump told Mueller about the Trump Tower Moscow discussions: Trump “acknowledged that they had conversations about it throughout 2015, 2016.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper: “Through November 2016? Through November, right? That’s what you said before.”
Giuliani: Trump “answered those questions fully, and I think to the satisfaction of the special counsel.”
On the Trump Tower Moscow discussions: Giuliani, who said he was quoting Trump directly, said the discussions were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won.”
On what Trump told Mueller about the Trump Tower Moscow discussions: “There was no question that he was asked by the special counsel a question that said, ‘Did you talk to him before he testified?’”
“There were questions like, ‘Did you talk about the Moscow project with Michael Cohen?’ to which we answered yes.”
“We’re at Cohen’s mercy for the dates,” Mr. Giuliani said, adding that Trump “doesn’t remember the dates. He does remember conversations about Moscow. He does remember the letter of intent. He does remember, after that, fleeting conversations.”
On the BuzzFeed report: There was no direct quote from this interview, but CNN reported that Trump’s legal team reached out to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office on Friday morning about the BuzzFeed story. He provided no further information about the contact with Mueller’s office.
NBC reported that the team “raised concerns” in a letter to Mueller’s office.
An anonymous source told the Wall Street Journal that the outreach represented the first time Trump’s attorneys have asked Mueller to address a press report.
General statement, Monday
“My recent statements about discussions during the 2016 campaign between Michael Cohen and then-candidate Donald Trump about a potential Trump Moscow ‘project’ were hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the President. My comments did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such discussions. The point is that the proposal was in the earliest stage and did not advance beyond a free non-binding letter of intent.”
On how he knows the BuzzFeed story is false: “The reality is that the President never talked to him and told him to lie.”
“Because I have been through all the tapes, I have been through all the texts, I have been through all the emails, and I knew none existed. And then, basically, when the special counsel said that, just in case there are any others I might not know about, they probably went through others and found the same thing.”
The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner: “Wait, what tapes have you gone through?”
Giuliani: “I shouldn’t have said tapes. They alleged there were texts and e-mails that corroborated that Cohen was saying the President told him to lie. There were no texts, there were no e-mails, and the President never told him to lie.”
Chotiner: “No, there were no tapes you listened to, though?”
Giuliani: “No tapes. Well, I have listened to tapes, but none of them concern this.”
On the statement he gave to the Times about discussions lasting through Election Day 2016, claiming to be quoting Trump: “I did not say that.”
Chotiner: “The Times just made that quote up?”
Giuliani: “I don’t know if they made it up. What I was talking about was, if he had those conversations, they would not be criminal.”
Chotiner: “If he had them, but he didn’t have them?”
Giuliani: “He didn’t have the conversations. Lawyers argue in the alternative. If we went to court, we would say we don’t have to prove whether it’s true or not true, because, even if it’s true, it’s not criminal. And that’s why Mueller will not charge him with it.”