Giuliani's new Mueller spin: Continuing Russia probe until the midterms will help GOP

The president's lawyer is now reversing his earlier stance about the Mueller probe and the 2018 midterm election

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published August 9, 2018 2:24PM (EDT)

Rudy Giuliani (Getty/Drew Angerer)
Rudy Giuliani (Getty/Drew Angerer)

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who has reemerged on the national scene as President Donald Trump's lawyer and most conspicuous defender in the media, has suddenly changed his tune and is now saying that he believes the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller could actually help the Republican Party in the upcoming midterm elections.

"When I first got involved, I would have told you not testifying would be the right legal strategy but then hurt politically," Giuliani told CNN in an interview over the phone on Wednesday regarding the question of whether Trump should testify before Mueller's team. "Now I'm thinking the continuance of the investigation would actually help because people are getting tired of it, and (the President) needs something to energize his voters because the Democrats look like they're energized. Nothing would energize (Republicans) more than, 'Let's save the President.'"

The former U. S. attorney also admitted that he is not in control of how Mueller proceeds with his investigation up to this point.

"Mueller will do whatever he wants to do. He has a game plan. He knows it. We just don't know it," Giuliani told CNN.

Giuliani's statement occurred around the same time that Trump's legal team rejected proposed terms by Mueller's office that would have made it possible for the president to appear before them for an interview. As The New York Times reported:

Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers, confirmed that a response was sent but declined to comment on its content. Noting the documents that the White House has already provided, the president’s lead lawyer in the case, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said, “We’re restating what we have been saying for months: It is time for the Office of Special Counsel to conclude its inquiry without further delay.”

The letter marked the latest back and forth in the eight months of negotiations between Mr. Trump’s lawyers and the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Last week, Mr. Mueller proposed a slightly altered format to the expansive interview he wants to conduct with the president.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers did not reject an interview outright but included the narrower counteroffer, one person familiar with the response said. However, Mr. Trump’s lawyers do not want him answering questions about whether he obstructed justice, according to the person, who did not want to be named describing the private negotiations and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

It is worth noting that, despite benefiting from a strong economy, Trump's approval rating has remained in the low 40s through most of his presidency, and it is reasonable to assume that ongoing speculation about the Trump-Russia scandal may have played a role in that. Democrats have continued to overperform compared to Republicans in key political races since the start of Trump's presidency, which suggests that the Mueller probe remains more of a political liability to the president than an asset.

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Giuliani's position here is especially noteworthy because it directly contradicts his stance from earlier this month. On that occasion, Giuliani told reporters that the Mueller investigation needed to deliver results regarding the president or else be shut down.

"We believe that the investigation should be brought to a close. We think they are at the end of it. They should render their report, put up — I mean I guess if we were playing poker, we’re not, put up or shut up, what do ya got?" Giuliani told reporters.

He added, "We have every reason to believe they don’t have anything. The president hasn’t done anything wrong. They don’t have any evidence he did anything wrong. They have lots of stuff that goes up this alley and that alley."

Flash forward to Giuliani's current position — that the Mueller probe dragging on would actually be helpful to the president's political cause, if not necessarily his legal one — and one must note that Giuliani has also put his foot in his mouth in another way during his attempt on Wednesday night to defend the president on Sean Hannity's "Fox News" shot.

"First of all, the president’s team who has been delaying for eight months an interview is also now saying that it has to hurry up and end. If they want it to end quickly, they should probably agree to an interview," Nick Confessore, a political writer for The New York Times, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program on Thursday morning.

"But, second, I’m just always amazed what the mayor’s team will say on the record," Confessore explained. "What he said in that interview is that the president’s story, if told to Mueller, would put him into perjury."

He added, "So, what he’s saying is the president’s story is wrong. It’s a lie. He just admitted it on national TV because if the president’s version of why he fired Comey is true, it is not a perjury trap, which just astonishes me. We have kind of blown right past the fact of what he admitted just there."

Although it is unclear what the exact nature of Trump's relationship with the Russian government is, there is little doubt that — be it collusion or conspiracy or simple bumbling around — there is something improper about how the leader of the American people interacts with a hostile foreign power that attacked America's very democratic processes. Giuliani and the rest of Trump's legal team have evolved from claiming that there was no collusion to saying that even if there was collusion it wasn't illegal, and from arguing that Mueller is trying to sabotage the president to insisting that Mueller's probe will actually help Trump by riling up his base.

What needs to happen, of course, is for the American people to learn everything about their president's relationship with this hostile foreign power. That way whatever judgments need to be made can be rendered based on complete information rather than the spin of a president and political team desperate to avoid accountability, whatever their reasons for feeling that way may be.

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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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2018 Midterm Elections Donald Trump Robert Mueller Rudy Giuliani Trump Russia Scandal