During an astonishing appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, made two stunning confessions.
Not only did Giuliani admit that Trump had colluded with the Russians in the 2016 presidential election, he also confessed to his boss repeated lying and changing his story. It isn’t entirely clear whether Giuliani was aware he was doing this (he has been known to drink before appearing on television), but it could well mark the beginning of a new chapter in Donald Trump’s defensive strategy against Robert Mueller.
And what might that strategy be? When assessing Giuliani’s recent performance, it seems to be fairly simple: admit to everything, but claim the president can’t be held accountable for it.
While Giuliani might think this is a clever defense, he is actually paving the way for the president to remove himself from office. Given the rapidly changing nature of the Mueller probe and the shifting political landscape in America, the walls are closing in on Trump so quickly he may have no other option.
A disastrous interview
Giuliani’s interview with Stephanopoulos came right after Michael Cohen had come on the show. Cohen had stated that his former boss had violated campaign finance law at Trump’s direction, asserted the president did have business dealings in Russia, and was lying about all of it. Stephanopoulos wanted Giuliani to respond to Cohen’s assertions, paving the way for the former Mayor of New York to quite literally confess to all of Trump’s crimes.
“The Southern District says you can get out of jail if you do this, you’ve got three years now,” said Giuliani. “There’s a real motivation to sing like crazy. He’s got to do a lot of singing to get out of the three years and he will say whatever he has to say. He’s changed his story four or five times.”
“So has the president,” interjected Stephanopoulos.
“The president’s not under oath,” replied Giuliani. “And the president tried to do the best he can to remember what happened back at a time when he was the busiest man in the world.”
And there you have it: an explicit confession that Trump did lie and did change his story, but it’s ok because he was busy.
Clearly on a roll, Giuliani continued his insane defense of Trump by then admitting colluded with Russia.
“Now, the special counsel went on to say that they found Cohen credible—provided valuable information about Russia-related matters for its investigation,” said Stephanopoulos. “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.”
“Isn’t that prosecution by innuendo?” replied Giuliani. “I have no idea what they’re talking about. Beyond what you just said, I have no idea what they’re talking about,”
“Well, let me ask you a few specifics,” replied Stephanopoulos.
“I have no—I have no idea—I know that collusion is not a crime,” said Giuliani. “It was over with by the time of the election.”
To be clear, Giuliani is explicitly stating that Trump colluded with Russia. His defense then, is as follows: Trump colluded with Russia, but that isn’t a crime, and it’s ok because it was over by the time of the election.
Collusion is a crime
It is also worth mentioning that many legal scholars disagree with Giuliani’s assertion that “collusion is not a crime”. As Seth B. Waxman, a partner at the Dickinson Wright law firm in Washington argued on CNN.com:
Having worked as a federal prosecutor for 13 years in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, I can report that the President and his lawyers are wrong. Collusion is a crime. The federal criminal code says so. The federal bribery statute –– 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2)(B) — makes it a federal crime for a public official to “collude” in a fraud on the United States. More specifically, the federal bribery statute expressly states that a crime is committed when a public official “directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value … in return for … being influenced to … collude in … any fraud … on the United States.”
If this is the best Giuliani can come up with, his client is in deep, deep trouble.
Recently, Giuliani also claimed the hush payments made to Daniels were ok because “Nobody got killed, nobody got robbed,” and that “this was not a big crime.”
Coming from a man who “cleansed” New York by ruthlessly punishing those who committed minor crimes, it isn’t just rich, it’s breathtakingly hypocritical.
The Trump team’s admission that the president lied about doing business in Russia, lied about hush payments to Stormy Daniels, and colluded with the Kremlin is a sign that they know how much evidence Robert Mueller has against them. Giuliani has gone into damage control by trying to pre-empt the final report they believe will be so devastating, but even he knows this isn’t going to work.
Is the tide turning?
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews stated this week that he believes the president’s resignation could be coming within “a number of weeks”. Matthews believes Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump could be the “next dominoes to fall” in the Mueller investigation and may face prosecution and potential prison time.
“But what if the prosecutor were to offer the president an alternative,” said Matthews. “What if he were to say he would let the children walk if the old man does the same? That would mean giving up the presidency in exchange for acquittals all around ― not just for himself, but for all his kids.”
“Leverage the office while you still have it,” Matthews said.
Trump has shown few signs he will fold, but if his children are facing jail time and the Democrats signal they will move to impeach, Matthews’s theory might not be so crazy. Don Jr. and Ivanka are going to come under immense scrutiny in the coming weeks, and given their shocking disregard for the rule of law and abuse of the presidential office, it isn’t a stretch to believe Mueller is going to uncover damning information about them, particularly with regards to their role in the Trump Tower Moscow scheme. As Yahoo News reported in November:
Multiple sources have confirmed to Yahoo News that the president’s oldest daughter, Ivanka, who is now a top White House adviser, and his oldest son, Don Jr. were also working to make Trump Tower Moscow a reality. The sources said those efforts were independent of Cohen’s work on a project. One of the sources said Ivanka was also involved in Cohen’s efforts. And a separate source familiar with the investigation told Yahoo News that Mueller has asked questions about Ivanka and Don Jr.’s work on Trump Tower Moscow.
Given the Trump team is now openly admitting to lying and collusion, it is hard to see what else they have left to bargain with. If Ivanka Trump and Don Jr. are implicated in serious crimes too, Trump may simply opt to cut his losses and walk away.
Robert Mueller is not the only person cutting off oxygen to Trump’s legal defense, his own lawyer is doing his best to starve him too.
(image via Politico)
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.