Giuliani:No Trump Interview by Mueller 12/17 06:16
With a number of probes moving closer to the Oval Office, President Donald
Trump and his attorney unleashed a fresh series of attacks on the
investigators, questioning their integrity while categorically ruling out the
possibility of a presidential interview with the special counsel.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- With a number of probes moving closer to the Oval Office,
President Donald Trump and his attorney unleashed a fresh series of attacks on
the investigators, questioning their integrity while categorically ruling out
the possibility of a presidential interview with the special counsel.
Trump and Rudy Giuliani used Twitter and television interviews Sunday to
deliver a series of broadsides against special counsel Robert Mueller and
federal prosecutors in New York. Giuliani said he was "disgusted" by the
tactics used by Mueller in his probe into Russian election interference,
including in securing guilty pleas from the president's former national
security adviser Michael Flynn on a charge of lying to federal investigators.
Trump, Giuliani said, would not submit to an interview by Mueller's team.
"They're a joke," Giuliani told "Fox News Sunday." ''Over my dead body, but,
you know, I could be dead."
The special counsel, who is investigating possible ties between the Trump
campaign and Russia, has continued to request an interview with the president.
Last month, the White House sent written answers in response to the special
counsel's questions about possible collusion. The White House has resisted
answering questions on possible obstruction of justice.
Giuliani sarcastically said that the only thing left to ask the president
was about "several unpaid parking tickets that night, back in 1986, '87 that
haven't been explained."
If the president officially refuses an interview request, the special
counsel's team could theoretically seek to subpoena him to compel his
testimony. Such a move would almost certainly trigger an immediate court fight.
The Supreme Court has never directly ruled on whether a president can be
subpoenaed for testimony in a criminal investigation, though the justices have
said that a president can be forced to turn over records that have been
subpoenaed and can be forced to answer questions as part of a lawsuit.
The special counsel's investigation has spun out charges and strong-armed
guilty pleas from Trump underlings while keeping in suspense whether the
president --- "Individual-1," in Mueller's coded legalese --- will end up
accused of criminal behavior himself. This past week, his legal exposure grew
as his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in
prison after admitting he issued hush-money payments to women who alleged
sexual trysts with Trump. Prosecutors and Cohen say he acted at the president's
direction, which Trump and Giuliani deny.
Trump and Giuliani have repeatedly tried to paint Cohen as untrustworthy,
with the former New York City mayor calling him a "pathological liar."
"Which is the truth?" Giuliani said of the competing stories from Trump and
Cohen. "I think I know what the truth is. Unless you're God, you'll never know
what the truth is."
Trump and Giuliani have also accused prosecutors of intimidating the
president's associates into making false claims.
"Remember, Michael Cohen only became a 'Rat' after the FBI did something
which was absolutely unthinkable & unheard of until the Witch Hunt was
illegally started," Trump tweeted. "They BROKE INTO AN ATTORNEY'S OFFICE!"
It was not a break-in. The FBI executed a search warrant obtained from a
judge in conducting a raid in April on Cohen's home, office and hotel room and
seizing records on a variety of matters, among them a $130,000 payment made to
porn actress Stormy Daniels by Cohen. The application for the warrant was
approved high in the Justice Department.
In response to Trump's tweet, former FBI Director James Comey tweeted, "This
is from the President of our country, lying about the lawful execution of a
search warrant issued by a federal judge. Shame on Republicans who don't speak
up at this moment --- for the FBI, the rule of law, and the truth.
Prosecutors have said Trump directed Cohen to arrange the payments to buy
the silence of Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the run-up to
the 2016 campaign. Federal prosecutors in New York say the payments amounted to
illegal campaign contributions because they were made at the height of election
season to keep voters from learning of Trump's alleged infidelities.
Giuliani has argued the payments were made to protect Trump's family, not to
influence the election.
"If there's another purpose, it's not a campaign contribution," Giuliani
told ABC. "Suppose he tried to use campaign funds to pay Stormy Daniels. It
wouldn't be illegal. These are not campaign contributions."
The hush money wasn't initially reported on campaign finance documents and,
in any case, far exceeded the legally acceptable amount for in-kind
contributions. The federal limit on individual contributions is $2,700.
Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about the Trump
Organization's goals to build a tower in Moscow. His representative, Lanny
Davis, told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that his written statement to
Congress, which contained the lie, was published ahead of his testimony and
Cohen then spoke to the White House.
"Not one person from the White House ever said, 'Don't lie,'" Davis said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House oversight committee and
the likely chairman come January, said he wanted Cohen to testify before
Congress about what he told prosecutors. Meanwhile, Trump's fellow Republican,
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, acknowledged on CNN that "it was not a good week
for President Trump" and urged "that the special counsel be allowed to complete
his investigation unimpeded."
Trump compared his situation to one involving President Barack Obama's 2008
campaign. The Federal Election Commission docked the Obama campaign $375,000
for regulatory civil violations. The fines stemmed from the campaign's failure
to report a batch of contributions, totaling nearly $1.9 million, on time in
the final days of the campaign.
But legal analysts said the accusations against Trump could amount to a
felony because they revolve around an alleged conspiracy to conceal payments
from campaign contribution reports --- and from voters. It's unclear what
federal prosecutors in New York will decide to do if they conclude that there
is evidence that Trump himself committed a crime.
Trump has not yet laid out a detailed defense, though he could conceivably
argue that the payments were made not for the purposes of advancing his
campaign but rather to prevent salacious stories from emerging that would be
personally humiliating to him and harm his marriage.
That argument was advanced by former Sen. John Edwards, a North Carolina
Democrat, in a similar campaign finance case that went to trial in 2012. But
that may be tougher for Trump than it was for Edwards given the proximity of
the president's payment to the election --- timing that, on its face, suggests
a link between the money and his political ambitions. Edwards was acquitted on
one count of accepting illegal campaign contributions, but jurors couldn't
reach a verdict on the five remaining counts, including conspiracy and making