Trump’s Defense Strategy Screams Guilt

It has been very clear from the beginning that Rudy Giuliani wasn’t hired to be Trump’s lawyer, but his public relations point person on the Russia probe. With the exit of the president’s previous lawyers, Giuliani was brought in to pursue a new strategy.

President Donald Trump and his lawyers have made a strategic calculation that their fight against special counsel Robert Mueller is more political than it is legal.

They’re banking that the lead Russia investigator will follow long-standing Justice Department practice that a sitting president can’t be indicted, and that the only real threat to Trump’s survival is impeachment.

So long as that theory holds, Trump’s plan is to forcefully challenge Mueller in the arena he knows best — not the courtroom but the media, with a public campaign aimed at the special counsel’s credibility, especially among Republican voters and GOP members of Congress.

As has been the case so often lately, Giuliani shot off at the mouth over the weekend (much like his client often does) and blew it during an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd. Here’s the full twelve-minute interview:

Just as Todd predicted, the meme coming out of this interview happens toward the end.

GIULIANI: So, what I have to tell you is, look, I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury. And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he is going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, that’s silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth, not the truth. He didn’t have a conversation…

TODD: Truth is truth. I don’t mean to go like…

GIULIANI: No, it isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth.

When your lawyer is claiming that “truth isn’t truth,” you know that you’re in very deep trouble. But earlier in the interview, Giuliani demonstrated that he is willing to tell a lie and pretend it’s the truth. When Todd asked about the Trump Tower meeting attended by Don Jr., Manafort, and Kushner, Giuliani claimed that they didn’t know they would be meeting with a Russian.

GIULIANI: Well, they knew it when they met with her, not when they set up the meeting. You told me, you, you asked me, you know, did they show an intention to do anything with Russians? Well, all they knew is that a woman with a Russian name wanted to meet with them. They didn’t know she was a representative of the Russian government and indeed, she’s not a representative of the Russian government. So, this is much ado about nothing.

For a quick fact-check, let’s go back to the very first email Don, Jr. received from Rob Goldstone to set up the meeting.

Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.

The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.

This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin.

Giuliani lied. The truth is that Don Jr. knew he would be meeting with an agent of the Russian government before he even knew her name.

There is a purpose to these lies, and Giuliani told us exactly what it is during his interview with Todd.

GIULIANI: Donald Trump says I didn’t talk about Flynn with Comey. Comey says you did talk about it. So tell me what the truth is?…If that’s situation where you have two pieces of evidence. Trump says I didn’t tell him and the other guy says that he did say it, which is the truth?…We have a credibility gap between the two of them. You’ve got to select one or the other.

That is why the response from both Trump and his legal team has not been to defend the president’s actions, but to attack the credibility of the investigators and anyone who cooperates with them. As an example, here is what Trump tweeted this morning about the fact that White House Counsel Don McGahn has cooperated with the special counsel.

Wow! So Mueller is now disgraced, discredited, and the modern-day Joseph McCarthy, according to Trump.

As soon as it appeared as though Michael Cohen might cooperate with federal investigators, Giuliani went from calling him a trusted advisor to a pathological liar. With all of the comparisons of both McGahn and Cohen to Nixon’s White House Counsel John Dean, the president tweeted what he thinks about people who become cooperating witnesses when a president is under investigation.

Let’s be honest, the only people who call a cooperating witness a “rat” are criminals and their enablers.

The strategy of this president and his lawyers couldn’t be more clear. They are prepared to lie in defense of Trump, viciously attack the investigators and anyone who cooperates with them, and then claim a “he said/he said” defense. It should be obvious to any sentient being that an innocent person wouldn’t employ a strategy like this. It is the last refuge of someone who is obviously guilty.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.