Rudy Giuliani on Sunday downplayed the significance of a possible discussion between President Donald Trump and his then-personal attorney Michael Cohen ahead of Cohen’s testimony before Congress in 2017.
CNN’s Jake Tapper peppered Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer and the former mayor of New York City, with questions about the president’s potential involvement in Cohen’s false statements to Congress about a potential Trump Tower real estate deal in Moscow.
“So it’s possible that … President Trump talked to Michael Cohen about his testimony?” Tapper asked.
“I don’t know if it happened or didn’t happen,” Giuliani responded. “And so what if he talked to him about it?”
He added, “As far as I know, President Trump did not have discussions with him. Certainly no discussions with him in which he told him or counseled him to lie.”
Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying about the deal in his testimony and in a two-page statement to House and Senate intelligence committees weeks earlier. He had said conversations about the Trump Tower deal in Moscow ended in January 2016, months ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
But special counsel Robert Mueller determined Cohen had lied about the timeline in an attempt to “minimize links” between Trump and Russia.
Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow project, BuzzFeed alleged in a bombshell report published Thursday. In a rare statement, Mueller’s team disputed the accuracy of the news story. BuzzFeed has stood by its reporting.
Earlier Sunday, Giuliani appeared on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” where he said that he “still” believes Cohen may have been telling the truth in his testimony to Congress.
“I can tell you [Trump’s] counsel to Michael Cohen throughout that entire period was, ‘Tell the truth,’” Giuliani told host Chuck Todd. “We thought he was telling the truth. I still believe he may have been telling the truth when he testified before Congress.”
But minutes later, when asked about the timeline of the Moscow deal conversations, Giuliani acknowledged they “went on throughout 2016.”
“There weren’t a lot of them, but there were conversations,” he said. “Can’t be sure the exact date. … Probably up to ― could be up to as far as October, November.”
Since May 2017, Mueller has led the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump obstructed justice. William Barr, Trump’s pick for attorney general, told the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week that a president could be guilty of obstructing justice if he or she told someone to commit perjury.
NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Giuliani on Sunday about Barr’s statement that a sitting president could obstruct justice.
“A president firing somebody who works for him, if he does no other corrupt act other than just fire him, it can’t obstruct justice because that’s what Article 2 of the Constitution gives to him solely,” Giuliani said.
He then suggested Trump was in the clear since it was not as if the president had been accused of threatening to “have your kids kidnapped” or “break your legs.”
This story has been updated to reflect Giuliani’s interview with Chuck Todd.