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Giuliani hints at longer Trump Tower talks

In an interview with ABC, President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani suggested that Trump had spoken with his former attorney Michael Cohen beyond January 2016 about the possibility of a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Posted: Dec 17, 2018 5:08 PM
Updated: Dec 17, 2018 5:39 PM

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani spent his Sunday "defending" Donald Trump and "advocating" for the President's innocence as it relates to the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

He did an extremely poor job of it -- creating any number of problematic storylines for the President, including an acknowledgment that Trump's team had conversations with Russians about a business venture in Moscow far longer into the 2016 election than had been previously known.

But this exchange -- between Giuliani and ABC's George Stephanopoulos -- really took the cake for me. It begins with Giuliani bashing former Trump lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen, who is now a cooperating witness in the probe, as a liar:

GIULIANI: "And the Southern District says you can get out of jail if you do this, you've got three years now. There's a real motivation to sing like crazy. He's got to do a lot of singing to get out of the three years and he will say whatever he has to say. He's changed his story four or five times."

STEPHANOPOULOS: "So has the President."

GIULIANI: "The President's not under oath. And the President tried to do the best he can to remember what happened back at a time when he was the busiest man in the world."

This doesn't work on so many levels.

Let's start with the fact that Giuliani is admitting that Trump lied. Repeatedly. And that it's all OK because he wasn't under oath. Uh, what? This is the President of the United States we are talking about. Making a legalistic argument -- he didn't lie when there was a criminal penalty for doing so! -- isn't exactly a good pushback on the idea that Trump has a problem telling the truth.

Think of it this way: Giuliani is, in essence, arguing that Trump's lies don't matter because he didn't say them under oath. And that, presumably, if/when he was under oath, Trump would tell the truth -- and that truth would be different than all of the false things he has said publicly.

Which is, um, a remarkable thing.

Then there's this: Wouldn't Cohen be incentivized to tell the truth given that he has been under oath -- several times -- in this process? Isn't the threat of a more severe criminal punishment a likely disincentive for Cohen to lie? And isn't it also true that Trump doesn't have that same disincentive to lie? Lying to the media or your supporters might carry some sort of political penalty. But it doesn't hold any legal penalty. Trump can say almost anything, as long as he isn't under oath, and get away with it.

Again, take it out of the Trump, and even politics, context. Pretend your life depends, literally, on someone answering a single question truthfully. Would you rather have that person be under oath when giving you their answer or no? Obviously, you would prefer the under-oath version because, well, actions having consequences tends to bring out the truth.

And last but certainly not least is Giuliani's explanation for why Trump has not told the truth so many times. He did "the best he can to remember what happened back at a time when he was the busiest man in the world." So because Trump was running for the nation's highest office, he can't possibly be expected to remember -- or recollect truthfully -- what happened during the campaign? Because he was super busy?!

But Giuliani is asking for even more than that. He's saying that not only should no one blame Trump for, uh, misremembering events surrounding, among other things, payoffs to two women alleging they had affairs with him, but also that the conclusions reached by federal prosecutors that Trump directed and coordinated these payments should be discounted.

Remember: This is not, despite what Giuliani is trying to do, ultimately a he-said, he-said battle between Trump and Cohen. Yes, Cohen said, under oath, that Trump directed and coordinated the payouts. But the prosecutors in the Southern District of New York didn't just take his word for it! They knew -- like we know -- that Cohen has a history of not telling the truth. They corroborated his charges and found them to be accurate. So this is about a federal prosecutor vs. the President. Not Michael Cohen.

Like I said: There's a lot wrong with what Giuliani told Stephanopoulos. A lot.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 448268

Reported Deaths: 6013
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin931011480
Ramsey40016739
Dakota33072340
Anoka30999364
Washington20164228
Stearns17871187
St. Louis13690241
Scott1195496
Wright11614104
Olmsted1048475
Sherburne821365
Carver694836
Clay653280
Rice606868
Kandiyohi554371
Blue Earth541033
Crow Wing482774
Otter Tail457167
Chisago452732
Benton420186
Winona389646
Douglas374166
Nobles370846
Mower365529
Goodhue347958
Polk328658
McLeod325345
Morrison311744
Beltrami310347
Lyon302236
Becker284939
Itasca284543
Isanti282841
Carlton280043
Steele27379
Pine266713
Freeborn245321
Todd231730
Nicollet224636
Brown215134
Mille Lacs214246
Le Sueur210015
Cass207623
Meeker199733
Waseca189316
Wabasha17083
Martin170026
Roseau165416
Hubbard149338
Redwood139727
Renville137539
Houston135913
Dodge13474
Chippewa131332
Cottonwood127218
Fillmore12355
Wadena120116
Rock110212
Sibley10857
Aitkin108433
Watonwan10668
Faribault105916
Pennington99215
Kanabec97818
Pipestone94423
Yellow Medicine93714
Murray8815
Jackson85610
Swift83418
Pope7385
Marshall70215
Stevens7018
Clearwater68514
Lac qui Parle65716
Lake63715
Wilkin6259
Koochiching59610
Lincoln4841
Big Stone4573
Unassigned43768
Grant4298
Norman4248
Mahnomen4107
Kittson37219
Red Lake3174
Traverse2503
Lake of the Woods1951
Cook1140

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 305606

Reported Deaths: 4278
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk45754449
Linn17795275
Scott15444163
Black Hawk13773236
Woodbury13016175
Johnson1211749
Dubuque11387150
Pottawattamie8992112
Dallas888671
Story869434
Webster469771
Cerro Gordo466768
Sioux455157
Clinton450361
Warren443938
Marshall427761
Buena Vista393429
Muscatine390477
Des Moines381841
Plymouth350368
Wapello344198
Jasper321959
Lee317130
Marion304952
Jones271349
Henry264330
Carroll255434
Bremer245048
Crawford231022
Boone218417
Washington217632
Benton209444
Mahaska193136
Jackson192031
Tama187757
Dickinson186026
Delaware173736
Kossuth173644
Clay168820
Wright164824
Fayette162322
Hamilton160029
Buchanan159923
Winneshiek155719
Harrison155162
Hardin154729
Cedar153219
Clayton151448
Butler148224
Page144715
Floyd139636
Cherokee139027
Mills136416
Lyon135332
Poweshiek132724
Hancock130224
Allamakee127928
Iowa125422
Calhoun12279
Grundy121226
Jefferson120724
Madison12039
Winnebago119429
Mitchell116234
Louisa115030
Cass113341
Chickasaw111612
Sac111215
Emmet110831
Appanoose110538
Union108822
Humboldt105519
Guthrie103024
Shelby102926
Franklin102418
Unassigned9310
Palo Alto9079
Montgomery85622
Keokuk85026
Howard84219
Monroe81218
Clarke7957
Pocahontas77611
Ida74630
Greene6927
Davis69121
Adair68820
Lucas6508
Monona64016
Osceola6409
Worth6113
Taylor5949
Fremont5126
Van Buren49712
Decatur4894
Ringgold4389
Audubon4158
Wayne41421
Adams2963
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