While Rudy Giuliani is technically a defense attorney for President Trump, his loose tongue and incompetent delivery of televised remarks on cable news programs suggest that his prosecutorial past may sometimes take over his brain without notice.
Giuliani was forced today to walk back comments he made to both The New York Times and NBC yesterday that suggested that discussions about building a Trump Tower in Moscow extended until at least a few weeks before the 2016 presidential election.
“My recent statements about discussions during the 2016 campaign between Michael Cohen and then-candidate Donald Trump about a potential Trump Moscow ‘project’ were hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the President,” Giualni said in a statement. “My comments did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such discussions. The point is that the proposal was in the earliest stage and did not advance beyond a free non-binding letter of intent.”
Giuliani’s sudden clarification of his earlier statements contradict the account he gave to NBC‘s Meet The Press where he claimed that the president recalled having conversations with his estranged attorney Michael Cohen about the Russian real estate deal “throughout 2016” and “as far as October, November.”
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“Well, it’s our understanding that they went on throughout 2016. Weren’t a lot of them, but there were conversations. Can’t be sure of the exact date. But the president can remember having conversations with him about it,” Giuliani told NBC.
“The president also remembers … could be up to as far as October, November. Our answers cover until the election,” the former New York mayor said referring to the written response the presidential legal team provided to the Special Counsel’s list of questions.
Sudden clarifications are nothing new for Giuliani and for the president’s legal defense as the story they’ve given has shifted constantly from Trump’s initial claims denying that neither he nor the Trump Organization had any business dealings with Russia whatsoever to saying that there were minor contacts that ended way before Trump won the Republican nomination to the explanation that Giuliani walked back today.
Giuliani’s avid consumption of his previous day’s words was most likely inspired by the outraged reaction to the new timeline that he admitted to yesterday engendered.
The senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) called the details of the ongoing discussions with Moscow “news to me.”
And that is big news. Why, two years after the fact, are we just learning this fact now, when there’s been this much inquiry? … I think that’s a relevant fact for voters to know. And I think it’s remarkable that we’re two years after the fact and just discovering it today,” he added.
The response to the discombobulated Trump attorney’s attempt to retract yesterday’s chronology inspired even more biting responses. George Conway, the Republican attorney married to Senior White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway and a frequent critic of the president, took to Twitter with his interpretation of Giuliani’s backpedaling.
Translation: “I just made s**t up.” https://t.co/wpAeC4vRBJ
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) January 21, 2019
Giuliani’s rambling cable news program appearances in defense of the president have been the source of many surprising leaks of previously unadmitted details related to matters under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He was the first to admit that Trump knew in advance of the payments that Michael Cohen made on his behalf to adult film star Stormy Daniels to maintain her silence about their affair after the Trump administration had denied that fact multiple times.
Giuliani’s often unhinged behavior on TV seemed to have inspired the president to refrain from using him as a spokesperson for extended periods, leading TV pundits to speculate over his whereabouts.
After this latest debacle, we may be lucky enough to enter a new period of Giuliani-free cable news viewing and remain as far from knowing the truth behind Trump’s contacts with Moscow as we’ll be until Mueller’s report is released…if we ever get to see it.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter. Original reporting by
Original reporting by Pamela Brown, Marshall Cohen, and Eli Watkins at CNN and by Michael Burke at The Hill.