Talk about verbal gymnastics.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Sunday that he definitely didn’t say what he said President Donald Trump said last month, but that if he did say what he said Trump said — which he did — he was saying what former FBI Director James Comey said Trump said, and that he would never have said Trump said that himself.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday, Giuliani denied ever saying that Trump had at one point asked Comey to give fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn “a break.”
In fact, Giuliani did say that to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos last month. Here’s a transcript (emphasis added):
GIULIANI: Comey’s testimony is hardly worth anything. And nor did he ever — James Comey never found any evidence of collusion. And [he] rules out obstruction by saying the President had a right to fire me. So all the rest of it is just politics. I mean, the reality is Comey, in some ways, ends up being a good witness for us, unless you assume they’re trying to get him into a perjury trap by, he tells his version, somebody else has a different version.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How is he a good witness for the President if he’s saying that the President was asking him — directing him, in his words — to let the Michael Flynn investigation go?
GIULIANI: He didn’t direct him to do that. What he said to him was “Can you give him a break?”
STEPHANOPOULOS: Comey says he took it as direction.
GIULIANI: Well that’s OK. I mean, taking it that way — I mean by that time, he had been fired. And he said a lot of other things, some of which have turned out to be untrue. The reality is, as a prosecutor, I was told that many times. Can you give the man a break, either by his lawyers, by his relatives, by friends. You take that into consideration but, you know, that doesn’t determine not going forward with it.
“There was no conversation about Michael Flynn,” Giuliani said at the start of the interview Sunday. He added, referring to Comey’s claim that Trump had confronted him about Flynn: “We maintain the President didn’t say that.”
When Tapper specifically brought up Giuliani’s comments to ABC News, Giuliani protested: “I never told ABC that. That’s crazy. I’ve never said that. What I said was, ‘That is what Comey is saying Trump said.’”
But that’s simply not true. Giuliani never told ABC News that he was characterizing Comey’s version of events. In fact, Giuliani not only said last month that Trump had asked Comey to give Flynn “a break,” he justified the President doing so by recalling times he’d been asked to do the same as a prosecutor.
Giuliani told CNN Sunday that “it’d be easier for me if the President did say that,” because, he said, Trump asking Comey to go easy on Flynn is “hardly an obstruction.”
“So you’re saying that President Trump and James Comey never discussed Michael Flynn?” Tapper asked.
“That is what he will testify to if he is asked that question,” Giuliani responded.
Later in the interview, Tapper played the ABC News clip.
“I said it, but I also said before that I’m talking about their version of it,” Giuliani said after seeing the video. “Look, lawyers argue in the alternative. I know it’s complicated, but my goodness, we’ve been over it long enough that — I mean, why would I say something that isn’t true.”
“The President didn’t say to him, ‘Go easy on Flynn,’ or anything about Flynn.”