Rudy Giuliani denied Monday that the disclosure by Donald Trump’s attorneys that the President dictated a crucial statement on the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting – a reversal from past denials – constituted a lie, instead claiming it was a routine mistake.
“It was a mistake,” Giulani, a lawyer for Trump in the Russia investigation, said on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” Monday. “I swear to God, it was a mistake.”
The meeting – and Trump’s role in the statement – has become a central focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., accepted the meeting, along with several other campaign officials, on the premise that he would receive dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government, though the attendees said such information didn’t surface.
The statement, given to The New York Times last summer, said the meeting was primarily about adoption policies, and spokespersons for the President repeatedly denied that Trump was involved in crafting it. But it was revealed over the weekend in a letter from the President’s attorneys to Mueller that Trump did in fact “dictate” the statement – raising the question of why Trump tried to hide the true premise of the meeting.
“I don’t think anybody’s lying,” Giuliani told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, as part of an interview in which he also railed against former FBI Director James Comey and dismissed the idea that his role defending Trump would hurt his legacy. “I think a mistake was made.”
The former New York City mayor said a mistake like that “happens all the time” among attorneys in the early stages of a case, and noted that there was no testimony to that effect under oath.
Giuliani also said he only agreed with “about 70, 80%” of the letter from Trump’s team in January, before Giuliani was brought on.
Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declined to explain the contradictory positions offered about the misleading statement.
“I’m not going to get into a back and forth,” Sanders said.
Predicts ‘nail in the coffin’ for Comey
Giuliani also raised eyebrows over the weekend when he told HuffPost that he believed the President could not be indicted while in office – going so far as to say that Trump could shoot Comey and not face charges before being impeached.
“It was a hypothetical,” Giuliani said to CNN.
Still, he stood by the remark about hypothetically shooting the former FBI director as a ridiculous example of his belief in the strength of the President’s immunity.
“Almost every head of state has the same kind of immunity,” said Giuliani, who added that he didn’t bring up the Comey reference and acknowledged he could have cited another example of Trump’s immunity.
But Giuliani, who was a US attorney for the Southern District of New York before Comey, did not mince words when it came to the former FBI director.
He predicted an upcoming report from the Justice Department’s inspector general would establish conclusively that Comey acted improperly while in office.
“The last nail in the coffin is going to be that report,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani says Trump won’t pardon himself
Trump tweeted on Monday morning that his pardon power extended even to pardoning himself, but asserted that in any case he would not need to.
“I can tell you as a lawyer, the pardon power is complete and there is no limitation on it,” Giuliani said Monday.
He echoed Trump by saying that despite this legal assertion, Trump would not end up pardoning himself because the “practical limitation” to the pardon power was that a president pardoning himself would constitute political suicide.
“He’s not going to pardon himself,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani also defended Trump’s floating of a pardon for Martha Stewart, who Comey prosecuted successfully, along with Trump’s decision to pardon right-wing figures Joe Arpaio and Dinesh D’Souza.
“She was trapped into perjury,” Giuliani said of the Stewart case.
Boos at Yankee Stadium
The interview on Monday also touched on how Giuliani, once hailed in many political corners following his leadership during the September 11 attacks, has become a polarizing figure due to his pugnacious and sprawling defense of Trump. As Cuomo noted, that role may have contributed to the booing Giuliani received at Yankee Stadium on his 74th birthday last week.
Giuliani, however, said he did not think his work for Trump would hurt his legacy, and argued it served a broader purpose of protecting the office of the presidency.
“I have a clear conscience,” Giuliani said. “I’m doing my job as a lawyer.”
He continued, “This has got to come to an end, this pursuit of presidents.”