Rudy Giuliani is way more of an open book than any criminal defense attorney should ever be, but that’s a good thing for the public. It allows us to have a better understanding of Trump’s thinking and strategy.
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday that his repeated imputations of a supposed scandal at the heart of the Robert Mueller investigation – which Donald Trump calls “Spygate” – amounted to a tactic to sway public opinion and limit the risk of the president being impeached.
“Of course we have to do it to defend the president,” Trump’s lawyer told CNN State of the Union host Dana Bash, who accused him of being part of a campaign to undermine the Mueller investigation. Trump has repeatedly called the special counsel’s work a “witch hunt”, despite its producing five guilty pleas, including by three former Trump aides, and evidence of Russian tampering in US elections.
“It is for public opinion,” Giuliani said of his public campaign of dissimulation. “Because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach or not impeach. Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, are going to be informed a lot by their constituents. And so our jury – and it should be – is the American people.
“So Republicans largely, many independents, even some Democrats now question the legitimacy of [the Mueller investigation],” Giuliani said.
This is an admission that Trump fully expects Mueller to deliver a report to Congress meriting an inquiry on possible impeachment. Eventually, Giuliani says, the House of Representatives will be faced with the choice of whether or not to impeach the president. Potentially, the Senate will be forced to decide whether to convict or remove the president. Giuliani doesn’t say that this is a possibility. It says it is a certainty. And that’s a long way from what he said when he was first hired, which was that the whole thing would be wrapped up in a couple of weeks.
I see no particular reason to think Giuliani and Trump are wrong about this prediction. But, either way, they’ve clearly decided that the best way to defend the president now is to begin the political fight early while Mueller is still compelled to stay mum.
Impeachment is a political matter that is fought over legal principles. If only one side is fighting politically, then that side is winning.
But they have a lot of work to do to delegitimize this investigation if they have any hope of countering the case Mueller is assembling. Once the facts are placed on the table, the advantage will shift hard in the other direction.