PBS NewsHour / YouTube Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani ...
PBS NewsHour / YouTube

Donald Trump’s lawyers have been gaslighting him for months on the subject of the Mueller probe. Ty Cobb repeatedly told Trump it would be over soon, first Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then early 2018 then Cobb gave up and followed John Dowd out the revolving door. Enter Rudy Giuliani, who says he was brought in to end the probe and initially speculated it would take him two weeks to do that, but now he’s uncertain. Meanwhile, Trump is still losing it, and Rudy assures him that he’s got it handled, and now they’re on offense. Washington Post:

The president vents to associates about the FBI raids on his personal attorney Michael Cohen — as often as “20 times a day,” in the estimation of one confidant — and they frequently listen in silence, knowing little they say will soothe him. Trump gripes that he needs better “TV lawyers” to defend him on cable news and is impatient to halt the “witch hunt” that he says undermines his legitimacy as president. And he plots his battle plans with former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, his new legal consigliere.

“We’re on the same wavelength,” Giuliani said. “We’ve gone from defense to offense.”

Giuliani met with Mueller five days after his hiring, on April 24, to try to understand issues ranging from the scope of a possible Trump interview to whether Mueller believes that Comey, whose firing by Trump triggered the probe, is a credible witness.

“From our point of view, it’s a two-track possibility for what’s next,” Giuliani said, referring to the possibility that Trump may sit for an interview with Mueller or, if he refuses, that Mueller may subpoena him. “But we don’t know which track it’ll end up being.”

With Rudy in charge, the track where the train just flew off the rails is the track it will logically end up being. But Rudy gallantly persists.

It would be easy to interpret the president’s tweets — and even his behavior — as an admission of guilt. But Trump’s advisers and friends say he believes he has done nothing wrong. What some legal analysts call obstruction of justice, Trump’s associates call punching back.

“His view is, ‘If I’m defending myself, you mean that’s obstructing justice?’ ” Giuliani said. “He’s right. He’s being president, but he’s not going to just sit there.”

Giuliani’s hiring marked the latest stage of the Russia fight. Already, Trump’s legal team was in flux. Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer dealing with the probe, had repeatedly counseled Trump that if he cooperated fully, it would be over soon — first by Thanksgiving, then by Christmas, then early in 2018. But Cobb is now exiting, to be replaced by Emmet Flood, one of Clinton’s impeachment attorneys. Also gone is John Dowd, who had been Trump’s personal lawyer and grew frustrated with his difficult client.

Trump liked Giuliani’s more aggressive approach, including his earlier television defenses of him. And the president, feeling increasingly isolated in the West Wing, with few true confidants on the staff, saw in Giuliani a loyal contemporary.

So for the moment, and in the absence of any better information, it appears that Rudy Consigliere Giuliani is lead counsel on Trump Russia. That pits him against Robert Mueller, and also against Michael Avenatti, whom Giuliani recently called “a pimp.” The big casting director in the sky has packed this extravaganza with improbable types and impossible combinations and it will be fascinating to see how it all unfolds. Mueller is deliberately silent and so the combat that will take place on Trump’s medium of choice, television, will be between Giuliani and Avenatti and unless I miss my guess, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. My prediction is that Giuliani will take such a beating that they’ll be naming a new marinara sauce after him when Avenatti is through.

 

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