WASHINGTON ― After weeks of describing June’s planned meeting with North Korea as all-consuming, President Donald Trump’s lawyer said the canceled summit does not mean Trump will soon be speaking with prosecutors investigating his campaign.
“No,” Rudy Giuliani said with a laugh. “It means he can talk to me.”
He said the cancellation of the Singapore meeting that had been set for June 12 gives him more time to work with Trump to decide next steps.
“We could probably decide by June 12 whether to testify,” Giuliani told HuffPost on Thursday.
That decision, though, will apparently hinge on whether Trump is given whatever report is produced following a Justice Department probe of the FBI’s use of an informant to learn about his campaign’s contacts with Russia. Trump demanded the review on Sunday following a coordinated effort by his Capitol Hill allies and conservative media to discredit the informant.
“Are we going to get a report on ‘spygate’?” Giuliani said, using the term Trump invented this week.
Giuliani allowed that, as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, he never would have turned over all of his investigatory material to a potential target in that manner.
“But I wasn’t investigating the president,” he said, justifying the demand for the FBI informant details. “You cannot compel criminal process on the president.”
“It’s one of the reasons I’ve become so aggressive, so his tweeting would be confined to the subject that we’ve chosen for the day.”
Giuliani said he still would prefer for Trump to avoid Mueller completely.
“I would not like to talk to Mueller at all,” he said. “I don’t see what you gain from that.”
But, Giuliani added, Trump himself has the opposite opinion. “He has a strong view that he should testify,” Giuliani said. “He believes he’s telling the truth: He didn’t collude with the Russians and he didn’t obstruct justice.”
Giuliani conceded that Trump’s habit of saying false things on a near-daily basis could create a problem for him. But, he added, that could be avoided if Trump had enough time to prepare for a session with Mueller.
“If we sat him down for an interview, we would be careful that it would be a solid explanation,” Giuliani said.
He added that he has not asked Trump to stop issuing tweets about the investigation ― based on his unsuccessful attempts to persuade Trump to stop tweeting during the 2016 campaign. “No use,” he said. “Didn’t work.”
But Giuliani has come up with a strategy he thinks might be working: taking a higher profile with inflammatory public comments of his own.
“It’s one of the reasons I’ve become so aggressive, so his tweeting would be confined to the subject that we’ve chosen for the day,” he said.
Giuliani said the cancellation of the trip to Singapore next month opens up more time for him and Trump to plan strategy, in addition to the daily or twice-a-day phone calls they have been sharing. He said he met Trump for half an hour Wednesday evening in New York City, where Trump had traveled for a fundraiser. “That half hour was devoted to the investigation,” Giuliani said.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded during the 2016 campaign that Russia was interfering in the U.S. election, and was actively trying to help Trump and hurt Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The FBI began its probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians well before Election Day. Control of the investigation was shifted to special counsel Robert Mueller after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. Soon after, the president told NBC News, as well as senior Russian officials visiting the Oval Office, that he had done so because of the investigation.
“The fact that he did it because of the Russian investigation is not obstruction of justice,” Giuliani said. “If he did it for that reason, that would be a legitimate reason to fire [Comey]. He works at the will of the president.”
Mueller’s investigation has so far resulted in the guilty pleas of five individuals, including three former Trump campaign staffers, and the indictment of 14 other people and three companies. That total includes 13 Russians, Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and the Internet Research Agency “troll farm” that was used to create and disseminate propaganda to help Trump win.
A related investigation by Giuliani’s former office is examining the dealings of longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. A former business partner has agreed to cooperate in that probe and plead to New York State charges.
Giuliani, though, said Mueller’s investigation thus far has been tangential to Trump, and asserted that none of those who have pleaded guilty or are under indictment have any information that can hurt Trump.
“They haven’t gotten anyone to flip on this,” Giuliani said, using courthouse slang for those accused of crimes to testify against associates in return for leniency. “They’re not going to do it on the bullshit that they have. Manafort’s not flipping. Cohen’s not flipping. And he has nothing to flip about.”