Bumped! Rudy’s Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Strategy

I got an invitation to be on my first Sunday show this week. But — as usually happens when you’re talking to big media bookers — I got bumped. I got bumped to make way for this Rudy Giuliani appearance, which sets a new standard among his many media appearances for giving Trump cause to claim his lawyer screwed him over.

The interview starts with Trump’s blabbermouth lawyer assailing someone else for bad lawyering.

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP’S LAWYER: Pathetic. The man is pathetic. That’s a lawyer you were interviewing and he says he — oh, he directed me to do it and, oh my goodness, he directed me. He’s a lawyer. He’s the guy you depend on to determine whether or not you should do it this way or that way, whether you’re Donald Trump or you are me or you, I have…

From there, Rudy pisses away one of the few benefits he offers Trump, his past service as US Attorney in the famously cliquish Southern District of NY. Rather than soft-pedaling any critique of SDNY, Rudy repeatedly pisses all over the office currently targeting his client, his client’s spawn, and his client’s eponymous corporation in at least one serious criminal investigation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you just said you ran that office. You know how the Southern District is run. You know exactly how the Southern District is run.

GIULIANI: No, I don’t know — actually, I don’t know how the Southern District —


STEPHANOPOULOS: They wouldn’t have put that in the statement of fact if they didn’t believe —

GIULIANI: I’m disgusted with the Southern District.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Here’s the question I have for you. Why do you have so much trouble with the southern district? The southern district’s being run – this case being run by Robert Khuzami, a Republican appointed by the Trump administration, spoke at the Republican …

GIULIANI: His interpretation of the campaign finance law is completely erroneous. And to be – even if – and even if you want to make some argument that there’s some validity to it, you do not pursue a president of the United States for a questionable interpretation of the statute. That is completely wrong, it’s harassment.

After failing to respond to George Stephanopoulos’ descriptions of what distinguishes Trump’s hush payment case from that of John Edwards, Rudy fails to offer one piece of evidence that might back his arguments — that Trump had paid similar hush payments in the past, when winning the Presidential election wasn’t at stake.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did he ever make any payments like that in the past?

GIULIANI: Nobody else asked for — in the past, I can’t speak to. I wasn’t his lawyer in the past.

Rudy then tries to claim that Jerome Corsi (who, Stephanopoulos points out, claimed 9/11 was an inside job) and Mike Flynn were not lying, misstating that Peter Strzok had said something exonerating about Flynn in a text versus an FBI interview.

Peter Strzok wrote in one of his texts that he didn’t seem to be – he didn’t seem to be lying, wasn’t acting like a person …

This is where things start to go really haywire. Stephanopoulos asks Rudy about the reference to Michael Cohen’s ongoing contacts with the White House through 2018 — which, given the way multiple entities happened to tell the same false story about the Trump Tower deal, likely means a conspiracy to obstruct justice — and in response Rudy says “It was over by the time of the election.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, the special counsel went on to say that they found Cohen credible, provided valuable information about Russia-related matters for its investigation, also that his contacts with persons connected to the White House in 2017 and 2018, they seem to be getting at, there, both collusion and obstruction.

GIULIANI: Isn’t that prosecution by innuendo? I have no idea what they’re talking about. Beyond what you just said, I have no idea what they’re talking about …

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let me ask you a few specifics.

GIULIANI: I have no – I have no idea – I know that collusion is not a crime. It was over with by the time of the election. I don’t know what evidence … [my emphasis]

Admittedly, by this point in the interview, Rudy was blathering. But I’m particularly interested — given that Trump reportedly refused to answer any Mueller questions about the transition — that Rudy thinks in terms of the collusion he’s seemingly admitting his client engaged in ended “by the time of the election.” Trump’s legal team may be adopting a defensive strategy premised on the claim that certain activities (reaching out to Russians to tell them you’ll give them sanctions relief is just the most obvious) can be divorced from any context that implicates election season “collusion.”

That’s the form of Rudy’s most newsworthy statement is so interesting. He says that the answer Trump gave (in context, this must mean in response to Mueller’s questions) “would have covered all the way up to,” and here he corrects himself, “covered up to November, 2016.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did the president – did Donald Trump know that Michael Cohen was pursuing the Trump Tower in Moscow into the summer of 2016?

GIULIANI: According to the answer that he gave, it would have covered all the way up to – covered up to November, 2016. Said he had conversations with him but the president didn’t hide this. They know …

STEPHANOPOULOS: Earlier they had said those conversations stopped in January, 2016.

GIULIANI: I don’t — I mean, the date — I mean, until you actually sit down and you look at the questions, and you go back and you look at the papers and you look at the — the — you’re not going to know what happened. That’s why — that’s why lawyers, you know, prepare for those answers.

This is breaking news, of course: the last we had heard, the Trump Tower negotiations only went up through July. Here, Rudy seems to be confessing that they went through November.

Only, his reference to “why lawyers, you know, prepare for those answers” suggests that that’s not what Trump’s response to Mueller actually was. I would imagine the response he gave was deliberately left vague enough so that if Cohen (who was caught meeting with Mueller in the days when Trump was finalizing his answers) told Mueller the deal went through November, then Trump’s answer wouldn’t contradict that, even if he didn’t admit that the deal did go that long.

Rudy went on the teevee this morning, in part, to make an utterly damning statement that would nevertheless tell Mueller’s prosecutors that the answer (lawyers wrote but that) his client swore to was meant to cover a deal that continued all the way through November, even if he didn’t say that explicitly.

Remember, the day Cohen pled guilty on the Mueller false statements charge, Rudy gave an unbelievably hedged answer about whether that deal ever died.

“The president, as far as he knows, he remembers there was such a proposal for a hotel,” Giuliani said. “He talked it over with Cohen as Cohen said. There was a nonbinding letter of intent that was sent. As far as he knows it never came to fruition. That was kind of the end of it.”

Rudy seems confident that Cohen did not know about the continuation of this deal, but I’d bet money that it did continue.

Back to today’s interview, Rudy goes on to deny, then back off a categorical denial, that Stone communicated to Trump about WikiLeaks, working hard to suggest that Mueller might only charge a conspiracy to hack, not a conspiracy to defraud the United States (even while the public record makes it increasingly possible that Stone could get charged in a CFAA conspiracy).

STEPHANOPOULOS: And did Roger Stone ever give the president a heads-up on WikiLeaks’ leaks — leaks concerning Hillary Clinton, the DNC?

GIULIANI: No, he didn’t.


GIULIANI: No. I don’t believe so. But again, if Roger Stone gave anybody a heads-up about WikiLeaks’ leaks, that’s not a crime. It would be like giving him a heads-up that the Times is going to print something. One the — the crime — this is why this thing is so weird, strange — the crime is conspiracy to hack; collusion is not a crime, it doesn’t exist.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No. Conspiracy to defraud the government, you’re right, conspiracy to hack that is the crime. We don’t know whether …

GIULIANI: Yes. Did Donald Trump engage in a conspiracy to hack with the Russians? They’ve been going at it. The counterintelligence investigation came to the conclusion no evidence.

Rudy seems to take wholly unjustified comfort in what I can only guess is that GRU indictment describing his client and Stone prominently, without charging them. Hell, Julian Assange hasn’t even been charged yet; why does Rudy think the counterintelligence investigation is done?

From there, Rudy admits he was in discussions with Cohen’s lawyers about pardons!!!! He then suggests that Cohen “double-crossed” — that is, told the truth — because of that discussion about pardons.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, they’re also looking at obstruction. Did anyone connected to the president ever suggest in any way to Michael Cohen that he would get a pardon if he stayed on the team?

GIULIANI: I had this specific conversation with his lawyers and that liar can say what he wants, I told his lawyers there will be no discussion of a pardon. That doesn’t mean the president doesn’t have the — nobody’s giving away any power, but do not consider it in your thinking now. It has nothing about what you should decide about yourself. I think that’s one of the reasons why he double-crossed.

All this ends with Rudy stating, quite confidently, that Mueller is done, after having just said that conversations were ongoing about whether Trump might sit for an interview.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I do know that from my time in the White House. Final question: Mueller almost done?

GIULIANI: He is done. I don’t know what else — I told you. No, the only thing left are the parking tickets and jaywalking.

Maybe Rudy’s right. Maybe Mueller has told him they didn’t find any evidence against his client.

But even if that’s (improbably) true, if I’m Mueller I might be reopening things in light of this appearance by Rudy.

As I disclosed in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

117 replies
      • Fran of the North says:

        Excellent article. Thanks for the link. A cogent analysis which takes a tangled mess of threads and weaves an easy to follow narrative.

        While dedicated readers here have been on to this story and its interlocking components for quite some time, it is great for those who have been otherwise focused, either due to lack of interest or willful denial.

        The other key bit: it is in the business press, which is a key constituency to influence.

        If the paymasters add their voices to the chorus, the legislative branch has to pay more attention than if it is just the citizenry and the 4th & 5th estates. Or so we can hope.

  1. BobCon says:

    “Maybe Mueller has told him they didn’t find any evidence against his client.”

    I’m going to guess that’s along the lines of someone being told he isn’t the target of the investigation. It’s trying to give the broadest possible implication to a very narrow statement.

    “Rudy pisses away one of the few benefits he offers Trump, his past service as US Attorney in the famously cliquish Southern District of NY.”

    He must have more detailed insights how the relationship is already fried to a crisp.

    “Rudy thinks in terms of the collusion he’s seemingly admitting his client engaged in ended “by the time of the election.””

    I wonder if there is some kind of compartmentalization effort going on, where they are going to claim that there are three separate periods — campaign, transition, and presidency — and it is impossible to establish a connection between a quid in one compartment and a quo in another. Not that there is any grounds for that, but I assume they’re striking out into unexplored territory to make a defense.

    Along the lines of “Sure, I said give me your money, and then I pulled out a gun, but those are separate actions and there is no way to charge me with armed robbery. My intention by saying “give me your money” was to use it in a totally legit investment, and my intention by showing him my gun was simply to let him know I appreciated the Second Amendment and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. Two totally separate acts.”

    • emptywheel says:

      I think that compartmentalization is precisely what they’re doing.

      It makes sense to a point. Trump can cozy up to Russia as President all he wants; he even ran on doing so. So he may compartmentalizing to deny that some of the stuff Trump tried to do as POTUS was payoff for election help.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        They’ve already floated the bullshit idea that executive privilege (and essentially the agency of the presidency) extends back to the transition, and I think we’re going to see a lot more of that argument: that actions taken between the election and inauguration are fine because they were going to do that stuff anyway once in office.

        • P J Evans says:

          ISTR that Himself was trying to tell the government what to do before he was sworn in, like the election somehow immediately gave him Authority over everyone.

          • pseudonymous in nc says:

            Authority and sovereign immunity.

            One of my long-standing beliefs is that in spite of school civics classes about checks and balances, most Americans’ mental model of how government is supposed to function more closely resembles that of the UK or Canada, with no real transition period. You win, you’re in charge.

            With him, though, it’s ignorance and pathology.

        • BobCon says:

          The idea that candidate Trump and President Trump are two legally distinct people seems crazy to me, like Alex Jones claiming that he’s a different person from radio personality Alex Jones. Except Hulk Hogan’s claim that he was a different person from Hulk Hogan seems to have worked in the Gawker trial, so you never know. (Yes, I know that was about a civil suit and convincing a slimy Florida judge and jury rather than a federal criminal case, but still you can’t help but wonder if it gives Trump hope….)

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Oh, CNN re-emphasised the idea circulating among King Idiot’s lawyers of executive pre-privilege for the transition:


          I genuinely think that could go all the way to SCOTUS, and I suspect Mueller’s team thinks so too. (Release the Dreeben.) But that’s what Flynn’s cooperation (and Gates’s, and Cohen’s) is for: the initial attempt to execute the “quo” of the quid pro.

        • CaliLawyer says:

          If I had to bet on the subject of the mystery appellant/grand jury fight, my money is on it being a document subpoena for transition period materials that weren’t under the control of the GSA. There’s no 5A rights in documents, and, although I think Mueller will hold off as long as he can on a subpoena for presidential testimony, the only hope to quash is through this novel transition executive privilege argument they’ve been floating. I can’t see Mueller’s team taking that argument lying down. Rudy’s never seen a microphone he didn’t like, so maybe they took pity on his client by clearing out the entire floor. Who ever heard of such secrecy over the identity of a lawyer?

    • Avattoir says:

      Look, I would issue, right now, or I could, a categorical denial, or a denunciation, or condemnation, whichever, maybe all of those, maybe none, who knows, because, as you yourself know, as a fact, or you should, I don’t know in fact what all you know as a fact, if you do indeed know, I don’t know, or if you know anything at all, so it’s possible, theoretically, maybe you don’t, who can know this sort of thing for sure,  no one can, I don’t have any obligation to respond to anything, so none of this counts in a court of whatever, or otherwise, but then, what happens next, come next week or next show or at some future time or place undisclosed, I could be sitting down right here with you again, if not at that time then at some time neither of us is even capable of knowing, because no one is, and, who knows, categorically denying that, not that I ever said X or that or this, about whatever, anything, because it could be on tape or film or what have you, YouTube, but that I ever said, or even implied, in any way, that the President ever did any such thing, because he clearly didn’t, so far as I know, and Mueller knows it…

      I – meaning me, not the rhetorical “I” contrived above – now feel confident that I misspent my entire post-secondary school education, training and career in failing to adequately prepare for the task of parsing Professor Irwin Corey. Or indeed: quite the opposite!

      (And I certainly don’t mean to imply that your own comment is an exercise in Coreyography, or indeed that such characterizes fearless leader’s post – even as I  query the value in attempting to quantify the ephemeral.)

        • Avattoir says:

          1. Greatest ever opening to a speech: “However, …”.

          2. Corey didn’t know Pynchon (Corey called him “Richard Python”.). Pynchon hadn’t the foggiest who Corey was. And no one in the audience had even seen Pynchon. Thus, Corey said, “there could be no responsibility”.

          3. “responsibility” = “collusion?

          4. The event took place during the Watergate saga. In the speech, Corey thanked “Brehnev, and Kissinger – acting president of the United States”.

      • Avattoir says:

        What a revelation! What a concept! Who in the world could ever have imagined that Mueller would use the formal filings processes of the federal courts system to serialize his ‘report’?

        And what qualities of observation, perception and analysis need someone have to figure all that out?

        Do such people really even exist?

        (And why is it that I sense that Bloomberg’s thru its contributor Denning as agent is in essence attempting to assert Big Media’s self-assigned seigneurial rights over fearless leader, in the manner of the plot of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro?

        Lord, Denning: repent!)

        • posaune says:

          En pointe, Avattoir!   Ah, but our host, like Susannah, commands all the coloratura virtuosity and genius to prevail.

          • Avattoir says:

            What does it say about someone that they are not just willing but eager to sit thru multiple tens of thousands of hours of baseball games, court hearings & opera performances, yet prove unable to resist winge-ing over no one spotting a planted pun:


            I knew him: a fellow of infinite self-esteem, a most excellent fan and servant of Empire. He hath rolled over many thousands of progressive concepts.
            AOT, he wrote this, in the context of the Case of Mark Hosenball:
            “In some parts of the world national security has on occasions been used as an excuse for all sorts of infringements of individual liberty. But not in England.”
            and then proceeded to attend to doing the opposite.

            We should consider ourselves fortunate that Mueller is a very different sort of establishment conservative.

  2. Wm. Boyce says:

    I find Mr Giuliani’s interview style to be most enlightening, as EW so ably points out. He should be doing more interviews, maybe appearing twice a day.

  3. Semanticleo says:

    Watch This Week most of the time but give us notice next time please.  Stephanopoulos is pretty objective and sharp

  4. Yohei72 says:

    Good lord, what is he doing?! I just… I can’t even… Is this real life?

    A quick news search shows that the MSM is picking up to some extent on the absurdities, contradictions and foot-shots of this interview, so that’s a bit of a relief.

  5. Jenny says:

    Bummer you were bumped Marcy.  Thanks for the written transcript.  I would rather listen to you than Rudy.  I cannot watch him, he gives me a headache – very annoying.  I turned the channel and came upon Stephen Miller on Face the Nation with a new hairdo.  Again, very annoying.  Switched to a cooking show instead.

        • cue says:

          I’m wondering if CBS managed to capture the elusive solid state of the brain fart? As cold as Miller appears to be I suppose it could be possible.  Perhaps the clip should be forwarded to CERN for verification.

          Whatever it is Miller wears it like few others could.

          • Jenny says:

            Begs the question:

            What is one covering up and hiding when one has to spray on hair or create a huge comb over?

              • Jenny says:

                The Insecure WH Men’s Hair Club variety of choices for the holidays:

                Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia pet, Doodle Poodle, The Steven Seagal Look, Wooly Willy, Goebbels Replica, Small Vole on Head, Use of a Sharpie Marker, Moss, Mold or Felt (your choice) and Toppik in a Variety of Colors for Instant Hair.

                Happy Heads with Instant Hair!

    • BroD says:

      For all the attention he seems to get, I haven’t figured out why anyone should pay any attention to Rudy.  It seems to me he’s just a rodeo clown.

      • alaura says:

        Exactly.  I think bumping Marcy is another failure of CNN/MSNBC/NBC/ABC, etc.,  to actually educate the public and trade on issues. It’s so gross.

        • Alan says:

          unfortunately, the media believes their role is to profit off the public, by entertaining or captivating them and then feeding them advertisements, not to educate them

  6. DRF says:

    I don’t understand. If Rudy thinks that Cohen “double crossed” Trump, doesn’t that mean there was an agreement that was broken?  What possible agreement could there be that was broken by Cohen pleading guilty to a crime other than conspiracy to obstruct justice.

  7. Trip says:

    GIULIANI: I had this specific conversation with his lawyers and that liar can say what he wants, I told his lawyers there will be no discussion of a pardon. That doesn’t mean the president doesn’t have the — nobody’s giving away any power, but do not consider it in your thinking now. It has nothing about what you should decide about yourself. I think that’s one of the reasons why he double-crossed.

    My head hurts. Palin Redux.

  8. sponson says:

    So you were going to be on ABC this morning but got bumped in favor of Rudy Giuliani, who then confessed to worse misdeeds by Trump & Co. than you would have alleged had you appeared?

    • Richieboy says:

      And we slavish EW readers get this kickin’ post. What’s not to love? Unless you had to wake up super early to NOT appear on TV, I mean.

      • emptywheel says:

        No no. They told me Friday.

        I agree. Getting bumped for the President’s lawyer is flattery enough. And then this shitshow to boot? I’ll take that trade.

  9. Naomi says:

    timeline please…

     that liar can say what he wants, I told his lawyers there will be no discussion of a pardon. 

    got a date on G. telling Cohen’s lawyers what to do?

    reads like a whole lot of double crossing going on

  10. J Barker says:

    I actually think these Rudy appearances make for pretty effective PR.

    These sit-downs usually happen before a big news story, indictment, or court filing gets made public. He goes in with one job: make just a few pieces of unfriendly information public, and downplay its importance (ex. compare this appearance with the Hannity one in the spring: “Sorry, I’m giving you a fact now that you don’t know. It’s not campaign money, no campaign violation!… They funneled it through the law firm.”)

    I tend to think his strategy is subtler and smarter than the familiar “get out in front of the story” move. The reveals are delivered in small increments and surrounded by distracting nonsense. Then, once the full story is made public by journalists, Mueller, or whoever, it feels like we’re just getting some more fine-grained details of a bigger picture we already knew.

    As a result, there’s never any single “aha” moment in the entire news cycle. In fact, Trump himself has been doing this for years, and it’s part of what prevents any of these scandals from sticking to him. And that’s what I’m afraid is going to happen when we get the big-picture from Mueller– there may not be any single “aha”-causing fact or detail. People are just going to shrug and say: “oh, yeah, hadn’t we already suspected Trump knew about the Tower meeting in advance?” or “oh, sure, we basically already knew Roger Stone was coordinating timing with Wikileaks” or “yeah, Rudy basically told us that the Trump Tower Moscow thing was being negotiated into November. Is it really so surprising that it continued on through 2017?”

    • P J Evans says:

      I’ve seen that kind of thing described as “normalizing” it – people get used to hearing about it, so they forget that it isn’t normal, it isn’t generally legal, and it isn’t moral.

      • J Barker says:

        Yeah, I guess my point is just that this little-by-little method is a particularly effective (and nefarious) way of normalizing criminality and wrongdoing.

        You start piling up grains of sand, one at a time. Eventually, you’ve got a big heap of sand. But you’d be hesitant to say, for any particular single grain, that it was the addition of that particular grain that brought the heap into existence.

        Similarly, you start unveiling tiny tidbits of near-wrongdoing, one at a time. At the end of the process, you’ve got an obvious crime on your hands. But the goal is to make everyone hesitant to say, at any particular public revelation: “aha, now we know there was a crime!”

          • Richieboy says:

            This “strategy” was discussed in the NYorker profile on Rudy from a while back. I agree it has been effective at muddying the waters for the easily duped and generally flooding the mediasphere with bullshit. But it’s useless in the courtroom. All the PR in the world won’t help.

        • KayInMD says:

          It is worrying. It does seem like by the time we get new charges spelled out we’ve been hearing hints of them for so long that we (at least some of us) just shrug. But you know those pictures that just look like a bunch of dots and smears, but after you stare at them for a long, long time, suddenly an image resolves, and once seen it can’t be unseen? The picture is just suddenly there. I think (I hope) that that’s what will happen when Mueller finally wraps it all up and ties a bow on it. Suddenly all these random charges and petty criminals will fit together to form a picture of massive criminality with Trump at it’s center.

          That’s my hope anyway.

  11. Peterr says:

    Rudy pisses away one of the few benefits he offers Trump, his past service as US Attorney in the famously cliquish Southern District of NY. Rather than soft-pedaling any critique of SDNY, Rudy repeatedly pisses all over the office currently targeting his client, his client’s spawn, and his client’s eponymous corporation in at least one serious criminal investigation.

    I think this oversells this aspect of Rudy’s resume. Rudy was the US Attorney for the SDNY from 1983-1988. I suspect a lot has changed over the intervening three decades. That, however, does not stop Rudy from touting this part of his resume at least once a week with Trump, who clearly buys it hook, line, and sinker.

    Yes, SDNY is cliquish, and I think this may also be part of Rudy’s desire to piss all over his old office. After Rudy was succeeded by US Attorneys like Mary Jo White, David Kelley, Michael Garcia, Preet Bharara, and James Comey (gasp!), I suspect Rudy doesn’t feel as welcome as he used to be when the Old Gang gets together.

    He sounds like many an old fart of my acquaintance who look at their old sports team/business/church/school/whatever and whine about how things were so much better back in The Good Old Days, and that these new whippersnappers with their new ways of doing things and new ideas about the world are screwing up everything.

    Put Rudy’s personal pique at the changes at SDNY together with Trump’s anger at anyone attempting to ever hold him accountable for anything, and this kind of interview is almost guaranteed to emerge.


  12. Peterr says:

    Trump’s legal team may be adopting a defensive strategy premised on the claim that certain activities (reaching out to Russians to tell them you’ll given them sanctions relief is just the most obvious) can be divorced from any context that implicates election season “collusion.”

    I can see the briefs for the judge now. “All that stuff we told the Russians? We were KIDDING!!!! We never had any intention of actually doing anything we promised to do once we got elected. We didn’t collude with them – we played them for suckers! It’s not our fault if they believed us.”

    • P J Evans says:

      And then the judge asks them to explain the Russian hacking and the Russian money and the messages asnd the meetings….

      • Peterr says:

        “The explanation is simple: they’re dupes. Marks. Suckers. How were we to know that they’d actually hack Podesta and the Dems? I said it before and I’ll say it again: We. Were. KIDDING!”

    • Alan says:

      Doesn’t matter. If the Trump campaign induced the Russians to assist in their campaign, or coordinated with the Russians, that would be illegal. It doesn’t matter if the campaign intended to make good on the inducements or not.

        • Alan says:

          I know you were at least half joking, but as my mom used to say, it’s all just fun and games until someone actually puts that s&*t in a legal brief ;-)

          • Peterr says:

            “I was KIDDING!!1!” is the conservative go-to response to critiques of their behavior, so I just kind of went with it.

  13. Thomas Paine says:

    It sounds to me like Giuliani is completely free-lancing on this stuff. Emmitt Flood and his team are probably smart enough to stay completely away from Rudy so they can deny that anything he has said has any basis in fact. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump can’t say the same thing – he has said that Rudy Giuliani is on the team on numerous occasions.

    The thing is, Giuliani just can’t help himself from having the last word in these interviews and gets twisted into specious arguments about potential criminal behavior, he obviously doesn’t understand. He would be better off to just say “no comment”, or “that is privileged information”, but he just can’t help himself. He and Trump are made for each other – they have a lot in common, including a propensity for self-delusion. I can’t imagine the heartburn that is causing Trump’s REAL attorneys and the White House Counsel’s office. Breaks my heart, LOL.

  14. Willis Warren says:

    I’m skeptical that there’s a legal strategy and this isn’t just pure buffoonery.  Remember, Rudy bragged about having dirt on Clinton that was going to come out before the election.  Enter Weiner’s laptop.  Then, Comey came in and probably put the final nail in Clinton’s chances.

    Rudy likes to brag, and take credit for shit, even at the risk of putting himself in jeopardy.  It’s consistent to view this as the attention whoring he’s always done.


  15. Hops says:

    So how does cognitive decline play into this? Trump is clearly daft. Giuliani not all there.

    And who in their right mind would be “Trump’s REAL attorneys” at this point?


  16. pseudonymous in nc says:

    I think Scott Stedman is taking a bit of a leap when he suggests that if Cohen stopped negotiating The Moscow Project in June, someone else from the Family Business took the reins until November, but by leaving that answer as open-ended as possible — and continuing to embrace the non-principle of “transition privilege” — you have to wonder. And again, not to excuse Rudy911, Flood and Sekulow, but when a client lies about everything you have to answer questions with a 100-mile radius in the hope it somehow encircles the truth.

    It reminds me of Josh Marshall’s “innocent” hypothesis, recalling Norman Mailer’s theory about the CIA and JFK assassination: they were doing so much dubious shit that they couldn’t be sure that an investigation wouldn’t turn over rocks and reveal the nasties underneath. But in this case, the maroons were up to their necks in dubious shit.

  17. Ed Smiley says:

    The Thirteen Stages of Frog Boiling

    Rudy’s a frog boiler.

    Let’s say that Trump

    stand[s] in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot[s] somebody.

    Just a metaphor.
    Nobody got shot.
    Look, people get shot on Fifth Avenue all the time.
    The President says he didn’t do it.
    Michael Cohen is lying about it.
    Mueller has a really weak case.
    Shooting somebody is a crime only if it is not in self defense.
    Mueller has failed to prove that the guy was not violating States Code Title 18, Section 871.
    The gun misfired. There was no intent.
    OK, he deliberately pulled the trigger. So what?
    It’s a state law governing murder, so it’s not an impeachable offense.
    Cohen is a rat.
    Killing people on Fifth Avenue falls under the President’s implied war powers.

    • Tech Support says:

      What if’s –

      Emptywheel meets Rudy in the greenroom?

      My hope would be that she uses the opportunity to ask him some kind of open-ended thorny question that gets his wheels turning before he goes on camera and leads him to say even more incriminating and over-the-top things than usual. Kind of like what happens to Ronald Reagan in Firesign Theatre’s The Breaking of the President.

      “Read me Dr. Memory?”

  18. bmaz says:

    Maybe Rudy’s right. Maybe Mueller has told him they didn’t find any evidence against his client.

    There is zero chance of this being the case. Zero.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Yeah, I think EW is kinda trolling Rudy911 here.

      A genuine question: how do lawyers deal with clients they can’t dump (for whatever reason) who lie to them all the time?

    • BobCon says:

      I agree there was no such statement by Mueller’s side so far. I assume they’re spinning a bland, non-commital statement by Mueller’s team into an affirmation that there is no evidence, and they’re hoping if they repeat it enough it gets picked up by the press.

  19. Pat Neomi says:

    Notwithstanding the absurdity of his concern regarding being “trapped” into telling a lie (with Trump, though it would certainly be plural lies), Rudy’s insistence that his client will absolutely not voluntarily submit to an interview with the SCO is probably the only legally sound advice and/or construct he has been able to muster in his representation of Trump. With his seemingly mistaken disclosure vis-a-vis the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations today, or his May disclosure of the reimbursement for the payments entailed in the Cohen case, what is the chance that his disclosures could be material to any aspect of any of the cases under investigation? And to that end, if ultimately it is revealed that his bumbling has somehow led to specific charges/lines of inquiry, what are the chances that his standing with any relevant bar could be jeopardized?

  20. Steve says:

    It is a mistake is to analyze this as if the president’s lawyers are acting as lawyers.  They are clearly acting as PR folks and are not strategizing in any legal sense.  The president is effectively unrepresented in my opinion.

    • Avattoir says:

      You assume Toad is capable of accepting represention by an effective ethical attorney. If you believe there’s some factual basis for that assumption, you should share.

  21. BobCon says:

    Although it’s hard to believe Giuliani is behind it, somebody on Trump’s team seems to be getting some traction pushing the story that Mueller is shutting up his shop soon.

    Philip Ewing of NPR was just slammed for running a piece arguing that the Russian conspiracy case is falling apart, and Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post ran a slightly less poorly reasoned piece arguing that the Flynn and Cohen agreements meant Mueller was almost ready to issue his “report.”

    I suspect there are sources with a bit more gravitas and separation from the White House carrying water for Trump on this issue, and there are still suckers in the press like Ewing who lack a good handle on the case and who take the bait.

    • Tom says:

      On the other hand, Paula Reid said on Face the Nation this past Sunday that she thinks the Mueller investigation is nowhere near being completed and still has months to go, at least until into the spring.

      • BobCon says:

        I think the balance of the press is tipping ever so slowly toward the realization that the legal challenges will continue to get worse for Trump, not better. So far, they’ve been like a typical sports reporter who comes up with reasons why a new head coach loses games — typical growing pains, oh it’s a tough stretch of the schedule, the team has a historical problem (checks stats) with late games on the road against younger rosters with at least one all star.  But they’re starting to see the problem.

        What I’m seeing as interesting, though, is the way stories are seeping into the press with a very specific counterargument, based not on any serious reporting but instead on nebulous “analysis” of some sort. And it doesn’t appear to be explicitly based on anyone’s opinion, as sometimes happens. Sometimes, you’ll see some gadfly stand up and state a counterintuitive theory, and then there will be a flurry of stories regurgitating the theory in the guise of “is he right?” pieces.

        These things seem to be sprouting up without an apparent source, something like mushrooms that mysteriously appear after the rain with nothing more than the thinnest tendrils hidden in the soil, except I believe there is a source and I’m curious who is behind it.

        • Jockobadger says:

          BobCon,   very sorry if this is a dumb question, but is the “specific counterargument” or “counterintuitive theory” that legal challenges are somehow diminishing for the Toad camp?   I can imagine the Breitbartoids spewing that sort of thing, but surely no credible writers are suggesting it?  Care to speculate about the source?  Thanks!  JB

          • BobCon says:

            What I’ve been seeing are suggestions, based on a very superficial reading of the facts, that Mueller is wrapping things up and what we’ve seen so far is most of what there is to the case.

            The implication is that Trump has weathered the storm, or at least has seen the worst of it.

            And yet all of this is supposedly independent analysis and unsourced to anyone pitching a storyline. I don’t buy it. Someone less nutty than Giuliani is selling it, but who, I don’t know.

        • Tom says:

          It seems to me that another problem is that the 24/7 news channels have all that air time to fill and sometimes not enough significant content to fill it with, so the result is a bunch of news anchors and panelists masticating the same “breaking news!” over and over again.

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    After five decades in the real estate business, Donald Trump has convinced himself that everything he says can be treated as non-binding puffery, language that has neither content nor consequence.  That’s not true, of course, especially not regarding his statements in his new job as a government employee.

    That fantasy applies even less to Rudy Giuliani.  He claims to be a lawyer, but acts like a performance artist with no logic and no short or long-term memory.  He can’t keep a story straight any better than his truth-challenged client.

    As bmaz says, the odds that Mueller has told Rudy that he’s about ready to wind up his investigation (and that the Don has nothing much to worry about) are about as good as any regular commentator here winning the next big lottery. 

    Bob Mueller is just getting started and all of Trump’s family and businesses are implicated in his and his departments criminal investigations.

    • Peterr says:

      He [Rudy] can’t keep a story straight any better than his truth-challenged client.

      See also Regina Peruggi (1968–1982); Donna Hanover (1984–2002), and Judith Nathan (2003–present); divorce filed in 2018.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Rudy’s shifting story about how and at what price he obtained his World Series rings – supposedly available only to members of the winning team and with no secondary market – goes along with his inability to keep his facts or his relationships straight.

      That he serially goes to a new partner before leaving his existing partner – and that they learn about it through the media or court filings – is a sign that Rudy has as the morals and confidence of Donald Trump.

    • Stormcrow says:

      I think we may be wrapping up the “investigation” phase and moving headlong into the “trial” phase. In other words, we’re not quite at the bottom of the hour in our Law & Order: SCO Very Special Episode (ripped from the headlines!)

  23. 27th Floor says:

    I have a suggestion (a little off topic)…  We keep talking about Trump breaking all the “norms.”

    Frame this:  There is no law against indicting a sitting president.  It is Justice Department policy.

    It is a norm.

    Indicting a sitting president is simply breaking a norm.  Language matters, and this frame is comfortable.

  24. RJR2112 says:

    I remember reading an interview back during the election with a long time former Trump employee who talked of going through Trump’s rolodex and randomly calling people trying to make foreign real estate deals or seek investors.   He complained that once he found a potential deal and was in the middle of  negotiations he would find that Trump had a new team go around him and take it over, usually negotiating a significantly less desirable deal in the process.    I thought of this and have been assuming that Trump would have cut Cohen out at some point, especially as he was randomly calling the Kremlin and out of his depths.

  25. Trip says:

    Michael Flynn’s partner indicted for conspiracy to remove Gulen and acting as a foreign agent.

    Maybe Dershowitz and the other Fox liars should now recognize what a break Flynn got by prosecutors allowing him to plead only to the lying charge. But we know that won’t happen.

  26. AnotherKevin says:

    With all the talk of “indicia of lying” going on, I’m surprised no one commented on Rudy’s body language in that interview. Watch at around the 5:00 mark, and again at around 6:40, when he unconsciously tries to shut his own mouth with his fingers. He obviously can’t stop himself from saying things he doesn’t believe/shouldn’t say. Looking at his patterns of eye movements, blinking, and overall posture are just as telling, though more subtle. He is not nearly as good a liar as Flynn obviously is.

  27. Mark says:

    Rudy, Rudy, Rudy, poor guy, thinks that in the court of public opinion he can blind them with bullshit, but when it comes to actual trial and maybe impeachment it will be facts delivered to a captive audience in a short period (judge/jury or senators) and not to restless, remote clicking Joe Sixpack over many months with a yen to watch football instead.

    So many things to pick apart in his interview, I will start it off with this: “…oh, he directed me to do it and, oh my goodness, he directed me. He’s a lawyer. He’s the guy you depend on to determine whether or not you should do it this way or that way, whether you’re Donald Trump or you are me or you.”

    As I recall, the judge in the Cohen case ruled that Cohen was NOT acting as an attorney much of the time, but an enforcer in the many conspiracies, that is why nearly all of the documents and electronics and other evidence were turned over to a special master and subsequently allowed as evidence. The irony here is that of the few times Cohen actually was acting as counsel was when he was warning that the actions were indeed illegal and he was overruled and told to go forward anyway.

    Rudy was only hired as legal counsel I believe to shield his knowledge from the SCO because of the inherent attorney/client privilege which as we saw with Cohen was tossed based on lack of attorneying. I think that Rudy’s alleged privilege will similarly be tossed but based upon ongoing criminal enterprise. It also explains the rash of divorces among the conspirators, sheltering assets by wives supposedly unaware of the crimes.

  28. sand says:

    Who’s going to play Rudy in Trump! The Musical? Does anyone have DeVito’s number? I like Kate McKinnon’s evil-elf take, but she’s better for Sessions, and those are both pretty big parts. DeVito would be a safe choice and offer a nostalgic link to evil in Gotham.

    Overall, I fear we might be tempted to adopt too much of the Hamilton style. I’m thinking more along the lines of The Book of Mormon, but Im sure more creative people will have better ideas. There’s just a lot of material to distill into 2.5 or even 3 hours. This is going to take talent. Do we need to wait for the book and then adapt it? I’d prefer to fast-track development, but the passage of time would probably help to filter out the less-relevant scenes, leaving only those truly worthy of being set to music.

    Last thoughts: this is art/commentary/satire, right? It would offend the conscience to have to pay royalties on the name. Also, Putin says if we can pull off this show, we’ll make hundreds of millions, but we have to get him front-row tickets on opening night.

      • Tech Support says:

        You wrote Ian McKellen, but I read Michael McKean. Who I think would be a fantastic Trump a la “This is Spinal Trump.”

    • oldoilfieldhand says:

      I think it should go to someone capable of portraying the total descent into depravity evidenced by allegiance to Trump. l hope Rudy 911 Noun and a Verb will be played, to perfection, by the 20th and 21st century actor chameleon; American Psycho, Machinist, Batman, Fighter, American Hustler, Cheney- Terminator, Christian Bale.

      He’ll need to re-use the dental horror of his portrayal of crack addicted Dicky Eklund, but he could pull it off better than anyone I could imagine.

  29. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Marcy has been onto the legal eagle tuned systematically sowing confusion through drip-fed press obfuscation game for a long time! “The Anatomy of Repeat” may work on the rubes, but Mueller’s closed shop maneuvering of the Presindebt’s own legal gerrymanderers will steer him into the conspiracy and obstruction “bullpen”. Giuliani is nervous, or his Oscar nomination performances are proof that he chose the wrong profession.

  30. Hug H says:

    Music and Lyrics by Lou Reed

    “They ordained the Trumps
    and then he got the mumps
    and died being treated at Mt. Sinai
    And my best friend Bill
    died from a poison pill
    some wired doctor prescribed for stress
    My arms and legs are shrunk
    the food all has lumps
    They discovered some animal no one’s ever seen
    It was an inside trader eating a rubber tire
    after running over Rudy Giuliani
    They say the President’s dead
    but no one can find his head
    It’s been missing now for weeks
    But no one noticed it
    he has seemed so fit
    and I’m Sick of it.”

    -“Sick Of You”

  31. cwradio says:

    Too bad you got bumped from George’s show, EW, but Rudy’s 3 ring circus act is a lot more entertaining than your boring old facts; this is America, after all. Perhaps if you dressed up in a clown costume and brought some cute little dogs to jump through fiery hoops, they would have kept you on.


  32. BobCon says:

    I agree that the 24-7 expectations of the newz biz feeds the opportunities for this kind of bogus analysis,

    What’s frustrating is that there are quality sources for good reporting and analysis to fill the hours, including of course MW. But the producers and editors tend to be trash, and what we see reflects their thickheadedness.

  33. e.a.f. says:

    I wonder who they will get to play G., in the movie. it will require a lot of make up. omg that man is bad shit crazy, when he carries on like that. You wonder why they have him on t.v. What is with the American media. If they had him on SNL doing this act, I’d understand, but this………yikes.

    You wrote a good article. Your coverage on all of this has been very good. enjoyed it immensely.

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