Presidential adviser, former New York mayor and occasional designated media piñata Rudy Giuliani appeared on ABC’s This Week with host George Stephanopoulos. Most of the interview focused on Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen and who might have been paid how much, when, and under what circumstances for what reason. In other words, it ignored the past week to focus on the really big issue. The interview had some news value when the conversation moved to the White House relationship with the special counsel.
If Giuliani’s views are indicative of those in the White House there are two main streams of thought. The first is that Mueller is not acting in good faith, he can’t be trusted, and, therefore, any extended, under oath interview will not be forthcoming without a significant court battle. The second is that after last week, when Mueller’s team was scorched by a federal judge who questioned their integrity and authority and by another judge who seemed poised to force Mueller’s major case–the indictment of 13 Russian hackers and three Russian business entities–to either dismissal or early trial, the White House sees the special counsel as being in a very weak legal position which means the odds of convincing Mueller not to issue a subpoena are pretty good.
Giuliani laid out a pathway for Mueller to interview President Trump.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Right. But what happens if Robert Mueller subpoenas the president? Will you comply?
GIULIANI: Well, we don’t have to. He’s the President of the United States. We can assert the same privilege as other presidents have. President Clinton negotiated a deal in which he didn’t admit the effectiveness of the subpoena. They withdrew it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, but he did testify — yeah, but he did testify before the grand jury. Is the President willing to do that?
GIULIANI: But only for two-and-a-half hours, only with an arranged format. Would we be willing to do that? I would rather have the Hillary Clinton treatment.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeha, I think President Clinton was before the…
GIULIANI: But I would rather have the Hillary Clinton.
STEPHANOPOULOS: … more than two-and-a-half hours.
GIULIANI: No, he was two-and-a-half hours in the grand jury, approximately, maybe three. We’ll say three. But Hillary Clinton treatment is what I’m looking for. And that is no under oath, only a Q&A, and then we get the questions in advance, and they write the report two weeks before.
I think that is extremely fair and supported by precedent. Hillary Clinton was accused of actual crimes. The list of questions that Mueller wants to talk to President Trump about seems designed to pit his recollection of events with others. Many of them that go to what Trump was thinking or why he did specific actions are utterly bizarre and seem crafted to try to make Trump look ridiculous if he answers them.
If you recall, James Comey drafted and circulated for comment a memorandum exonerating Hillary Clinton from all criminal liability weeks before she was ever interviewed by the FBI. When she was interviewed she was not under oath, the interview was just over three hours, it was not recorded, she had four lawyers present–one of whom was also a subject in the investigation–and there was a specific list of questions the FBI could ask. The latter courtesy didn’t only apply to Hillary. Cheryl Mills walked out of her interview when the FBI asked a question that was not on the approved list.
If a former Secretary of State rates that level of deference, so, too, does the President.
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