Shouldn’t it really be more like … zero? Rudy Giuliani told Chris Cuomo on CNN’s New Day this morning that Donald Trump’s legal team had bargained down the number of subject areas for a special-counsel interview of the president down from five to two. That seems to indicate that Trump still plans on sitting down for an interrogation despite an avalanche of legal opinion that he’d be better off keeping his mouth shut.
One other interesting point was Giuliani’s description of the subject area they want kept in the interview:
Rudy Giuliani said Friday that special counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to narrow the scope of a potential interview with President Donald Trump from five topics to two.
The former New York City mayor told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day” that Mueller is not considering asking the President about his former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who’s under investigation in New York over his business dealings.
Giuliani said he can’t go into much more detail, but that “the main focus we want is Russia.”
It’s easy to see why they don’t want Trump answering any questions about Michael Cohen, but as Giuliani says, it’s a moot point anyway. Mueller handed the case off entirely to the Department of Justice weeks ago, and its US Attorney in the Southern District of New York took over the probe. That’s significant, especially as it relates to the supposed connections to Russia and other foreign governments through Cohen. If Mueller really thought those had any potential of proving a collusion case against Trump, he never would have let that case go back to the DoJ. He would have squeezed Cohen himself for all he’s worth to make that case work, just as Mueller’s clearly trying to do with Paul Manafort. The transfer of Cohen’s case demonstrates that Mueller thinks it won’t help him make a case against anyone in the Russia-collusion hypothesis.
So why do they want Mueller to ask Trump about Russia? Want is probably too strong a word — they’d clearly prefer Mueller to just close up shop — but they’re most comfortable on those grounds. And the reason why is probably why most observers have more or less written off that end of the special counsel investigation: because there’s nothing there. It may not be a “witch hunt,” but it’s been a dry hole for over a year, at least according to congressional investigations and the kind of indictments Mueller’s sought. At this point, Russia is the least of the worries facing Trump, but it still remains the primary mission of Mueller. Trump’s legal team must be thinking that a short interview with Trump on that topic might finally get Mueller to shut down his probe, or at least those parts of it with any connection to Trump.
But what about the FBI’s alleged spying on the Trump campaign? Trump was on Twitter quoting a Fox analyst about that this morning:
“Apparently the DOJ put a Spy in the Trump Campaign. This has never been done before and by any means necessary, they are out to frame Donald Trump for crimes he didn’t commit.” David Asman @LouDobbs @GreggJarrett Really bad stuff!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2018
Giuliani appeared to throw a little cold water on that with Cuomo:
Rudy Giuliani on President Trump's claims that there was an "informant" in the Trump campaign: "I don't know for sure, nor does the President, if there really was one” pic.twitter.com/of1eS51GwR
— New Day (@NewDay) May 18, 2018
Giuliani told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that neither he nor Trump knows “for sure” if there was an informant.
“I don’t know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one,” he said.
He told Cuomo that the team has been “told that” by people “off the record.”
“[We] don’t know if they’re right or not,” he said. “They’re people who knew a little about the investigation.”
That might be a good thing to actually nail down before making public accusations. There’s also a difference between planting a spy and having people becoming informants on their own, i.e., whistleblowers. The latter would be tricky to handle when dealing with a major political campaign, while the former would flat-out constitute an intent to interfere with the political process. Giuliani tells Cuomo that Mueller should tell them which it is, if either at all, but don’t expect discovery unless someone goes on trial or until the final report, whichever comes last.