Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s defense of President Donald Trump in his new capacity as his lawyer continues to attract attention for all the wrong reasons. This week, The New Yorker published an interview with the lawyer in which he seemed to inadvertently confirm that there are evidence tapes relevant to the Russia investigation, making it again that much harder to presume the president’s innocence — which is ironic considering how important his public image is to the president.
Giuliani was discussing the recent Buzzfeed News story that claimed Trump had directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the scope of efforts to construct a Trump Tower Moscow in order to conceal the president’s personal involvement. Unspecified aspects of that story have been disputed by Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller’s office, which through all the months of investigations and leaks had never issued a similar statement before. Buzzfeed has defended its reporting and called on the special counsel’s office to clarify what characterizations they’re disputing.
Journalist Isaac Chotiner asked Giuliani how he supposedly immediately knew the original story was supposedly completely false despite claimed behind-the-scenes evidence, and he said:
‘Because I have been through all the tapes, I have been through all the texts, I have been through all the emails, and I knew none existed. And then, when the special counsel said that, just in case there are any others I might not know about, they probably went through others and found the same thing.’
Chotiner shot back, asking what tapes he was referring to, and Giuliani quipped:
‘I shouldn’t have said tapes… Well, I have listened to tapes, but none of them concern this.’
Previously, it’s emerged that when in his employ, Cohen had secretly taped some of his conversations with the president. One of those tapes has already come out publicly, containing a clip of the two men discussing their efforts to bury former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story of a lengthy affair with the eventual president. The illegal hush money scheme that conversation was a part of has since more fully come out and landed Cohen in jail for three years and the label of unindicted co-conspirator hanging over the president’s head.
Still, despite the severity of that situation, there hadn’t been much in the way of indication that any tapes related to the Russia scandal — yet.
Cohen’s stake in the Russia scandal revolves around that Trump Tower Moscow, which was so intertwined with Russian government authorities that Russian President Vladimir Putin was going to get a penthouse at one point. If Trump had been involved in those behind-the-scenes negotiations while on the campaign trail claiming to have no ties to Russia — that’s big news.
Giuliani at one point appeared to suggest Trump was in fact involved in negotiations over a potential Trump Tower Moscow — but he sought to walk that back, too, saying he was only speaking hypothetically.
Some of the questions Giuliani’s commentary and the initial Buzzfeed story raise will no doubt be answered when Michael Cohen testifies publicly before Congress early next month.
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