With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.
THE BIG IDEA:
Rudy Giuliani has neither reduced Donald Trump’s legal exposurenor helped him in the court of public opinion during his week-long media blitz, but the former New York City mayor’s pugnacity has pleased the president. Can it last?
Giuliani huddled with Trump yesterday afternoon at his golf club in Sterling, Va., to discuss legal strategy after he appeared on Fox News Saturday night and ABC on Sunday morning. Then he spoke with several other reporters by phone.
Rudy’s public comments have primarily been aimed at an audience of one, from likening FBI agents to “stormtroopers” to describing James Comey as “Judas” and calling on Jeff Sessions to investigate the people investigating Michael Cohen.
Giuliani is being as aggressive as Trump has said he wants his lawyers to be. He asserted yesterday that Trump does not need to comply if special counsel Robert Mueller subpoenas him, opened the door to the president invoking the Fifth Amendment if forced to testify and then declared that “the Founding Fathers created immunity for a president, so the president can’t be indicted.”
“I am focused on the law more than the facts right now,” he told CNN last night.
Earlier in the day, he told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week”: “My issue is getting up to speed on the facts here. I’m about halfway there.”
Some lawyers might wait to defend their client on television until they were all the way there. Not Rudy. But this is not actually his biggest problem.
Giuliani is repeating seven of the mistakes that have felled previously highflying Trump aides, who rose rapidly only to fall out of favor:
1. He’s overconfident about his standing with the president.
“We’ve made a deal this weekend: He stays focused on North Korea, Iran and China, and we stay focused on the case and we’ll bother him when we have to,” Giuliani told The Washington Post’s Robert Costa yesterday after his meeting with Trump.
The cigar-chomping politician, fresh off his third divorce, added that the recent media blitz has “all worked out” because “we’re setting the agenda.”
“Everybody’s reacting to us now, and I feel good about that because that’s what I came in to do,” he told Bob.
People often feel emboldened after getting hired by Trump, only to get their legs cut out from underneath them after they overinterpret their mandate. The best example of this was Anthony Scaramucci’s 11-day tenure as White House communications director. Many observers see parallels with Giuliani. The Mooch himself responded last night:
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) May 6, 2018
Challenging Giuliani’s statement that he knew about the hush money paid to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, Trump on Friday said Giuliani “just started a day ago” and is “learning the subject matter.” (In fact, it had been 15 days at that point.) “Rudy is great, but Rudy has just started and he wasn’t familiar with everything,” Trump told reporters on his way to speak at the NRA convention. “He’ll get his facts straight.”
In an interview that afternoon with The Post, Giuliani said Trump was not actually mad at him. “He says he loves me,” Giuliani said.
Trump always “loves” his advisers — until he doesn’t.