Why Is Trump in a Joint Defense Agreement with Manafort If Rudy Concedes Manafort May Have “Colluded”?

Rudy Giuliani had yet another of his limited hangout meltdowns on CNN last night. (This thread has the best summary I’ve seen until CNN posts a transcript.) In it, Rudy significantly moved his previous goalposts on “collusion,” by claiming that he had never said no one on the campaign had “colluded,” he had only made such claims about the President.

Rudy: I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign. I have no idea —

Cuomo: Yes you have.

Rudy: I have not. I said the President of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the President of the United States committed the only crime you could commit here, conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC.


Cuomo: The guy running his campaign was working on an issue at the same time as the convention.

Rudy: He didn’t say nobody, he said he didn’t. He said he didn’t. He didn’t say nobody. How would you know that nobody in your campaign–

Cuomo: He actually did say that, Rudy — as far as I know.

Rudy: Well I didn’t say that. Well, as far as he knows that’s true!

In this clip, Rudy even says, “I have no idea — never have — what other people were doing.”

Except he did — or claimed he did. Rudy has claimed over and over again that he’s sure the President is not at any risk of being charged with “collusion” because he knows what all of the critical witnesses — who are all in a Joint Defense Agreement with the President — told Mueller.

GIULIANI: Well, I have a pretty good idea because I have seen all the documents that they have. We have debriefed all their witnesses. And we have pressed them numerous times.

BASH: You have debriefed all of their witnesses?

GIULIANI: Well, I think so, I mean, the ones that were — the ones that were involved in the joint defense agreement, which constitutes all the critical ones.

That’s actually not true. Rick Gates was reportedly never part of a JDA. Mike Flynn famously pulled out of it to turn state’s evidence. Don McGahn apparently didn’t share all the details of his 30 hours of interviews with Mueller’s team.

But it is true with respect to one person: Paul Manafort. Hell, even after Manafort flipped, his lawyer continued to brief Rudy about what was said and Rudy based certain defense strategy decisions — most notably whether and how to answer Mueller’s questionnaire for the President — on what he heard from Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Downing.

Rudy says he never learned that Manafort had shared campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik until Manafort’s lawyers “accidentally” failed to redact that detail a few weeks ago (in fact, Rudy hilariously blames that revelation on a leak). Yet he was getting briefed on what Manafort was saying — he was in a Joint Defense Agreement!! — during the entire period when Manafort was lying about sharing polling data with Kilimnik.

Rudy insists that, even if Manafort “colluded,” the President did not. And yet, the President was in — remains in, as far as we know — a Joint Defense Agreement with this guy that Rudy now concedes may have “colluded” during the election.

As I disclosed last 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. 

39 replies
    • oldoilfieldhand says:

      Don’t forget the Nobel Committees. It’s time the literature prize includes a category for online published work!

    • Marinela says:

      Are you reffering to the FBI leaks during the 2016 campaign, from the NY FBI office, that cased Comey to held conference about Hillary emails?

      People lost their FBI jobs for less.

      What is the FBI policy regarding the leaks? What is the difference between the NY office FBI agents leaks and the Reality Winner leaks to Intercept? They threw the book at her about national security, for something that could be seen as a whisle blowing.

  1. der says:

    He added, “I said the President of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the President of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack the DNC.”

    Trump’s base should feel insulted. Rudy admitting that a crime may have been committed is a switch and has many people thinking that the President of the United States should use every executive power he assumes to find the West Wing traitors who are trying to bring his administration down. Instead The President has America’s Mayor talking gibberish. I have to wonder if Giuliani takes Trump’s base, Rush and Ann for stoops.

  2. Ckymonstaz says:

    Oh, you mean the horribly mistreated Pauly “Ostrich Feathers” Manafort who is NOT a RAT? He may have colluded after all? WEIRD!


    • Ckymonstaz says:

      Ha, oh the irony! These idiots who can’t seem to remember anything that happened during the craziness of the campaign all want to play like ostriches and stick their heads in the ground now!

      Nothing to see here folks

      • Raven Eye says:

        Talk about irony!  I finally put together (a) the ostrich coat,  (b) “birds of a feather”, and (c) “heads in the sand”.

  3. Marinela says:

    Trump conspired to get elected. He is ilegitimate President. So how we deal with this?

    There is no jail time that can undo the damage his administration is causing.

    It is not like we can say, ok, Hillary should be president for a while, since she was cheeted in the first place.

    I realize we don’t have all the facts that Mueller team has, but from the public reporting so far there is so much damaging information about Trump campaign, and how he became president that is hard to register the ilegitimate aspect.

    • Pete says:

      All there is, I believe, is the chain of succession assuming the top Pez in the dispenser ideally gets ejected as prescribed in The Constitution.

    • Stephen says:

      I agree that this is a morally illegitimate presidency. However, the man in the White House did win the election, the results were certified, and he was sworn into office. In a purely legal sense, then, he is the legitimate president. The only ways of ending this are through impeachment and conviction by the legislative branch, being found unfit under the 25th amendment, or waiting until next election and voting the rascal out. Personally, if the evidence Mueller’s team gathers looks as convincing as I think it will, I would hope for impeachment. Invoking the 25th amendment would not be a good option. But in a way, what I really hope for is a protracted impeachment battle that paralyzes the current occupant for a year or so, preventing his #2 from assuming the reins of power as anything other than a very lame duck. I might dream of a double impeachment (elevating Nancy Pelosi to the Presidency), but I don’t think the #2 dude has enough involvement in the various crimes to justify his removal from office.

      • Rayne says:

        He did not win legitimately; he violated election law at the very minimum to obtain office. Impeachment and removal would not be about the legitimacy of the election, particularly since the Constitution offers no instruction on mitigating an illegitimate election.

        Impeachment and removal should be about Trump’s violations of the law — “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” as spelled out in the Constitution — and the removal of an active threat to the country because Trump has proven repeatedly he is unable or unwilling to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” to meet Article II, Section 3.

        As for Pence: has he likewise committed “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”? If the Special Counsel’s Office finds he has, then we should impeach and remove for the same reasons, proof that Pence is unable to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

        • Stephen says:

          I agree wholeheartedly that the “win” was contaminated, probably rendered illegitimate by the unlawful machinations we keep learning about. Still, the fact remains that the person sworn in as president IS the president unless and until s/he is removed from office. As you say, the Constitution has no provision for an “illegitimate election,” so legally speaking, there is no such thing – at least, not once the results have been certified by state secretaries, election boards, and so forth. Like it or not, just barely enough Americans voted for this person – a fact that has real implications for the state of the union, alas. Anyway, we’re on the same side of history, thou and I: hoping for a proper trial resulting in conviction & removal from office. And that the name “Trump” will join those of Quisling, Vortigern, and Alcibiades on the list of historic traitors…

        • Fishmanxxx says:

          As I’ve stated elsewhere if there is no avenue available to remove the King, you must take another look at the rules that should have avoided this person from even being nominated, let alone create a train wreck disaster for your country! Perhaps no one in the 1700’s, could have predicted this level of treachery?

      • Raven Eye says:

        Double impeachment unlikely.  Pence could pull an “Agnew” and a “clean” vice president could be appointed.

  4. pseudonymous in nc says:

    This is a situation where one could argue that Rudy911 neither knows nor cares what he’s talking about — and that in fact such knowledge would hurt his specific role as a gish-galloping “lawyer on TV” — but that’s also giving him far too much leeway. He’s just full of shit.

    But once more with feeling: who’s paying Manafort’s lawyers? Who’s paying Jason Maloni? The Mueller brief suggests that Paulie was squirreling for cash last year even before he forfeited his dirty assets, and not getting many (any?) contributors to his defense fund.

    • Cathy says:

      And sometimes the shit doesn’t stick…


      During an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday night, Giuliani said that he “never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign,” adding that the president has also never said there was no collusion.


      “I represent only President Trump not the Trump campaign. There was no collusion by President Trump in any way, shape or form,” Giuliani said in a statement, adding, “Likewise, I have no knowledge of any collusion by any of the thousands of people who worked on the campaign.The only knowledge I have in this regard is the collusion of the Clinton campaign with Russia which has so far been ignored.”


  5. Pat Neomi says:

    What’s the end line of all this goalpost moving going to be? ‘Yeah the president conspired with, and ordered others to conspire with, a hostile foreign state to subvert the election and our republic, and obstructed justice along the way, along with myriad other violations of law, but it’s not like he was conspiring with Satan or Kali.’

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      “Collusion is awesome!”

      “‘Conspiracy to defraud the United States’, what kind of crime is that? Does that even sound like a crime to you?”

    • Jockobadger says:

      Bottom line:  This whole bloody fiasco is about Sanctions, Crimea, and hegemony in what were once Soviet satellites (plus a nice piece of the ME and the pipelines.)  Chaos here in our country and now in the UK – plus whatever Kompromat they have on Trump and a whole host of other Repubs and NRA-types will allow Putin and his Oligs to do what they want.  We have got to rein this in and I’m not smart enough to even know how to begin. I hope Dr. Wheeler has some ideas – she will if anyone does.  I do like bmaz’ comment re: the major air hubs.  That’ll at least get this shutdown knocked off center.  Dog help us all.

  6. viget says:

    After watching the Rudy911 debacle live last night, I cannot tell who is showing more signs of advancing dementia, Rudy or Trump. I half expect him to have a Col. Jessup moment with Chris Cuomo some day. But you know, he’ll be smiling through it, not realizing what he just admitted to.

    If I were Trump, I would honestly stop having Giuliani as a spox. He’s not acquitting himself well.

    • Rayne says:

      “You can’t handle the collusion! Son, we live in a world that needs walls, and those have to be guarded by men with Facebook accounts,” Rudy shouts as spittle sprays the camera lens, focused entirely too closely on his spouting maw.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Constitution requires only that the president periodically inform the Congress – both houses, not the Senate – of the state of the Union.  A speech to the Senate without a written report to both houses doesn’t cut it, thanks Mitch.

    There’s nothing new about a written state of the union presentation.  It was traditional for a long time and remains a valid method.  Presidents today prefer the screen time – especially this TV addicted president – but they’re not entitled to it.  Pelosi is well within her rights and seems to have picked a handy political issue, too, demonstrating the reality of Trump’s lockout/shutdown to more people.

    Trump will interpret Pelosi’s letter as an attempt to geld him by that woman, a lifelong fear, it seems.  Who would dare prevent him from displaying his Greatness before the camera?  The Don will respond violently indoors.  It would be fun to see how he responds outside if the stakes were not so high.

    Trump and McConnell are alone in the lifeboat together, it’s a long way from shore and it seems to be leaking.  The GOP is earning no new voter support for this presidential tantrum and Pelosi’s position makes the costs of Trump’s mismanagement clearer to more people.

    Which brings us to Rudy’s distracting, lying, incoherent performance art, denying that he ever said that Trump’s campaign did not “collude” with the Russians.  In case someone hasn’t been paying attention, Rudy lies as much as his client: for starters, ask any of his former wives.

    As for Trump’s denials, who would believe a corporate CEO who denied criminal conduct if he was a renowned micromanager, all his direct reports went down for the same conduct, and the principal beneficiary of that conduct was the CEO?

    That Trump still employs Rudy seems to be proof of Trump’s criminality: who else would keep Giuliani on as a spokesperson, let alone as a criminal defense lawyer?  The good news is that Giuliani is now so bad at lawyering that the truth will out.

    As for Trump’s picket fence-slats-wall-border barrier-border security, the US is already one of the hardest countries in the world to enter.  Just on the southern border, seven hundred of its two thousand some miles are already physically walled.  Many more miles are fenced, droned, cameraed, sensored, and watched.  Any “border security” problems the US has are not owing to a lack of physical barriers.

    • Raven Eye says:

      A speech to the Senate without a written report to both houses doesn’t cut it, thanks Mitch.

      Mitch seems to have a very — errrrr — flexible relationship with the Constitution.

    • LeeNLP says:

      “The good news is that Giuliani is now so bad at lawyering that the truth will out.”

      When I first read this I thought you said “the teeth will out”.  I guess my mental image overrode my language faculty.  :)

  8. BobCon says:

    Mueller’s filing that revealed that Manafort was still in communication long after his arrest with both Kilimnik and someone in the Trump administration about the Ukraine deal is going to be just the tip of the iceberg.

    A footnote to the filing said there are more Manafort contacts that have not been revealed. I’m sure that footnote is referring to a lot more than Trump people getting memos that they forwarded unopened directly to the FBI.

    I suppose the dodge Giuliani will pull is that he’ll say he was only referring to “collusion” during the campaign, and never meant that to imply it wasn’t going on by the actual administration well into last year.

  9. Trip says:

    Under Marcy’s tweet:

    ‏ @emptywheel

    Observation: Trump didn’t pay his campaign manager. Perhaps a result, Manafort continued to serve the foreign oligarchs who *were* paying him.
    Trump is not paying *anyone* in government right now.

    Qasim Rashid, Esq.‏Verified account @MuslimIQ

    Wait. The Senate voted to stop sanctions so billionaire Russians can get paid, but not to stop the Shutdown so blue collar Americans can get paid? Please tell me more about how much they love the flag.


  10. Drew says:

    The best bit I saw in the transcript when Rudy said (words to this effect): ‘You know politics, the candidate never even knows what’s in the platform.’

    and Chris CUOMO responds, “I was raised by a man who could correct the punctuation on the platform.”   -probably meaning from memory, copyediting quotes in the NY Times.

  11. Rick says:

    BuzzFeed says there is a lot of real evidence and witnesses that Trump directed Cohen (and Don Jr?) to lie to Congress.

  12. Anon says:

    This serves to strengthen my belief, argued previously, that the risk area is Trump’s spawn or spawn in law. Kushner has long acted like he owed favors to a lot of people and was not scrupulous about hiding it while Don Jr just comes off as sump-pump-dumb. If I was looking to turn someone I would choose one of them not their erratic paterfamilias.

  13. Reader 21 says:

    Awesome post—I think more shoes could continue to drop about the JDA.  You can’t use Attorney Client privilege to commit a crime, that would be a fraud upon the court.  This ain’t Russia.

    Re the platform—changing that plank, weakening the US commitment to help Ukraine in the event of an attack (from, guess who), was the ONLY part of the platform the Trump campaign cared about —that’s it.  The Times had a piece on it at the time, alluding to how strange it all was.  JD Gordon (he of Ms. Butina notoriety) was mentioned, IIRC.

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