Giuliani: Won't answer 'perjury trap' questions

Rudy Giuliani said that President Donald Trump's legal team has responded to the special counsel, the latest effort in ongoing negotiations over a possible interview. CNN's Dana Bash reports.

Posted: Aug 9, 2018 7:17 AM
Updated: Aug 9, 2018 7:35 AM

President Donald Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that he wants negotiations over a presidential interview with special counsel Robert Mueller to be completed by Sept. 1. But the presidential attorney is also making the case that Republicans could benefit from dragging the process into the November 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 a phone interview Wednesday. "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.' "

RELATED: Trump's legal team responds to Mueller regarding interview

Giuliani's comments came as the Trump legal team sent its latest rebuttal to the special counsel's office, once again laying out concerns with the scope of Mueller's request to interview the President in a letter that appears to do little to bridge the gap with Mueller's team.

Republican operatives increasingly view the special counsel's investigation as a base-rallying tool for the midterms -- an outlook reflected in Giuliani's musings about interview negotiations bleeding into the fall campaign.

But his comments are also a reminder of how little the President's legal team knows about how Mueller intends to proceed.

Mueller wants to question Trump about his campaign's interactions with Russia during the campaign and allegations of obstruction of justice leveled against the President, sources familiar with the matter say. The Trump team has been steadfast in arguing the latter topic should be out of bounds because it pertains to privileged matters during his time as President.

The reality -- which Giuliani readily conceded -- is that Mueller is in control of the timing here, not them.

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

Trump's team braces for a long battle

Trump's legal team has argued for months that Mueller has all the information he needs to conclude the investigation by relying on the documents provided by the White House, contemporaneous notes and interviews with people inside and outside the White House. They believe that unless Mueller can establish some compelling reason for Trump to testify at all, there is at least some hope that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would decline to approve a subpoena of the President.

In the meantime, all Trump's team can do is continue negotiations, as it did Wednesday with yet another counteroffer to Mueller intended to once again narrow the scope of the questions he would ask the President in any interview, according to sources familiar with the matter.

"Millions of pages of documents along with testimony from dozens of witnesses have been provided. We're re-stating what we have been saying for months: it is time for the Office of Special Counsel to conclude its inquiry without further delay," Giuliani said of the letter in a statement on Wednesday.

A source familiar with the discussions also reiterated that the Trump team is still "not inclined to do an oral interview." Despite this, the President remains willing to talk to the special counsel, his lawyers say.

The source declined to delve into the details of the letter but said the legal team expressed its "concerns" about Mueller's parameters for an interview.

As they await a response from Mueller, Trump's legal team appears prepared for a prolonged battle even as Giuliani publicly declares it could all wrap up in early September.

A source familiar with the legal discussions noted that negotiations over prosecutors' questioning of a President have historically been a lengthy process, pointing to independent counsel Ken Starr's efforts to get an interview with President Bill Clinton.

The Clinton negotiations lasted six months and involved more than a dozen letters between the two sides. By comparison, negotiations with Mueller's team over an interview restarted in earnest with the most recent iteration of Trump's legal team more than three months ago.

Gaming out how Mueller -- and Trump -- will respond

How long the tug of war over a presidential interview lasts could rest on Mueller and Rosenstein's willingness to subpoena the President if Trump's legal team refuses to budge.

Mueller has never explicitly given the Trump legal team a timeline for reaching that point. While he has floated the possibility of subpoenaing Trump, he has never explicitly threatened to do so, and the Trump team believes he will not pursue that option. Working through the federal appeals courts to reach a final decision on the merits of a presidential subpoena at the Supreme Court could take months.

Again, Trump's lawyers admit, they're just guessing -- rolling the dice that Mueller would rather avoid that legal fight if he can, but no one can say for sure that he won't do it, sources with knowledge of their thinking said.

For now, Mueller appears to be taking his time. When the President's lawyers responded to the special counsel the last time, their response sat unanswered for weeks, sources familiar with the negotiations tell CNN.

When Mueller finally responded, the offer narrowed the number of questions but didn't move forward much on limiting the scope of the questioning, according to sources familiar with the President's attorneys' thinking.

Wednesday's new counteroffer is intended to find more common ground, but it is still unclear -- and some think unlikely -- that they will find agreement on questions pertaining to obstruction of justice that Mueller wants to ask the President.

Trump's lawyers consistently argue that they will not subject the President to what they call a "perjury trap."

"For example, 'What did you say about Flynn?' 'Why did you fire Comey?' They already know our answer," Giuliani said.

There is an additional unpredictable factor here: the President himself. He has publicly said he wants to testify, and those with knowledge of his views insist he still does. How strongly he feels about that is unknown.

"Ultimately, this is the President's decision," Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's attorneys, said on his radio show Wednesday alongside Giuliani. "But we're hopeful that he will take the advice of his lawyers as this process continues to mature."

But after all these months, the timing of this -- and whether Mueller would subpoena a sitting President -- remains a guessing game.

Giuliani believes it would be a mistake for Mueller to carry this through Sept. 1 and as the election approaches.

"He will become an election issue, like it did for Comey," Giuliani said. "I don't think he thinks that way, but I think he cares about his reputation."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 443562

Reported Deaths: 5918
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin921721468
Ramsey39534730
Dakota32680325
Anoka30733358
Washington19904223
Stearns17728184
St. Louis13503239
Scott1185394
Wright11519102
Olmsted1031671
Sherburne813664
Carver689336
Clay646678
Rice597866
Kandiyohi551571
Blue Earth536333
Crow Wing478173
Otter Tail451362
Chisago447932
Benton416085
Winona384546
Douglas371566
Nobles366346
Mower360127
Goodhue342857
Polk327056
McLeod322244
Morrison309343
Beltrami307446
Lyon299035
Itasca281543
Becker280638
Isanti280640
Carlton278042
Steele27019
Pine264413
Freeborn238720
Todd230529
Nicollet222636
Brown212634
Mille Lacs212145
Le Sueur207615
Cass204723
Meeker198233
Waseca188015
Martin168826
Wabasha16802
Roseau165216
Hubbard147638
Redwood138827
Renville136339
Houston133613
Dodge13244
Chippewa130732
Cottonwood125618
Fillmore12135
Wadena118214
Rock109412
Sibley10767
Aitkin106733
Watonwan10598
Faribault103814
Kanabec96818
Pennington96715
Pipestone93423
Yellow Medicine92614
Murray8625
Jackson85010
Swift83017
Pope7355
Marshall70115
Stevens6968
Clearwater68314
Lac qui Parle65416
Lake62615
Wilkin6219
Koochiching58410
Unassigned49468
Lincoln4811
Big Stone4523
Grant4257
Norman4218
Mahnomen4077
Kittson36819
Red Lake3154
Traverse2443
Lake of the Woods1771
Cook1130

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 302245

Reported Deaths: 4203
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk45206441
Linn17616270
Scott15300161
Black Hawk13616228
Woodbury12927175
Johnson1198649
Dubuque11275148
Pottawattamie8896112
Dallas879569
Story860433
Webster467269
Cerro Gordo461966
Sioux453151
Clinton447161
Warren436237
Marshall425161
Buena Vista391129
Muscatine384375
Des Moines379140
Plymouth348667
Wapello340097
Jasper317855
Lee312528
Marion300452
Jones269149
Henry262630
Carroll252833
Bremer241648
Crawford227822
Boone215316
Washington213831
Benton207943
Mahaska190636
Jackson190531
Tama185357
Dickinson183526
Delaware171836
Kossuth170141
Clay165519
Wright162324
Fayette159022
Buchanan157820
Hamilton157728
Harrison153862
Hardin153729
Winneshiek153019
Clayton150448
Cedar150019
Butler146123
Page143515
Floyd137436
Cherokee137325
Mills135516
Lyon133332
Poweshiek131424
Hancock128524
Allamakee126327
Iowa122522
Calhoun12189
Grundy119422
Jefferson119123
Winnebago118029
Madison11789
Mitchell115034
Louisa114129
Cass112141
Chickasaw110511
Sac110115
Emmet109931
Appanoose109038
Union108122
Humboldt104219
Guthrie102124
Shelby101126
Franklin100918
Unassigned9180
Palo Alto9009
Keokuk84225
Montgomery84022
Howard82119
Monroe80418
Clarke7757
Pocahontas77211
Ida73730
Greene6867
Davis68421
Adair68220
Lucas6458
Osceola6349
Monona62916
Worth5943
Taylor5909
Fremont5025
Van Buren49412
Decatur4784
Ringgold4269
Wayne41421
Audubon4118
Adams2933
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 18°
Mason City
Cloudy
24° wxIcon
Hi: 25° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 11°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 24° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 14°
Austin
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 26° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 14°
Charles City
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 26° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 12°
A quiet weekend ahead
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

John Marshall ready for 2021

Image

Is the City of Rochester paying men and women equally?

Image

LWVMN asks for "truth and consequences" for state lawmakers

Image

Sports Overtime Part 2

Image

Sports Overtime Part 1

Image

Plans for polar plunge

Image

Equal work and equal pay.

Image

Aaron's Friday Night Forecast

Image

Mega Millions jackpot soars to $750 million

Image

Increase in 2021 travel plans

Community Events