Rudy Giuliani dropped another bombshell yesterday on Fox News.
Guiliani said that the case “is essentially over,” and that Mueller’s team was “just in denial.”
The current Justice Department precedent is that federal prosecutors can’t indict a sitting president. This precedent was set in a Justice Department memo in ’99, and Rudy Guiliani believes that Mueller has no choice but to follow it.
Of course, precedent was made to be broken, and what Rudy Guiliani says obviously has to be taken with a grain of salt at this point. But Guiliani is right to stall the prosecutors from trying to get Trump in for an in-person interview.
As Rudy has previously said, such an interview with the famously improvisational and detail-challenged president would almost certainly constitute a “perjury trap.” Given Trump’s insatiable need to go off-script and talk in broad generalities, an on-the-record, under-oath interview with Mueller would be disastrous.
We all know the truth of the matter. Trump is most rhetorically effective when he’s trying to condense and simplify major issues for a broad audience. But he still loves to try to talk about specifics, and unfortunately when he does so he usually gets the facts at least partially mixed up, or even sometimes dead wrong.
That’s not a surprise or really even a bad thing; he’s a political outsider and not an egg-headed “subject matter expert”. (And thank God for that. America has been run into the ground by such “experts” for the past fifty years.) And it’s not to say he’s always wrong. Sometimes his facts and figures are right on the money. But ultimately Trump’s a big-picture guy, and that’s where he thrives.
It was this big-picture focus that won Trump the election. Even when he was dead wrong about the facts of an issue, it usually came across as an understandable mistake, due to his not having been steeped in the elitism of the Washington swamp. When Hillary got things wrong, it looked suspicious, as if she were downright lying, because she framed herself as an expert and people expected her to know the facts about the issues she was presenting.
Trump never really claims to know all the facts with perfect accuracy. His speeches are filled with hedging language: “I’m pretty sure,” or “I heard somewhere the other day,” and the like. And he’s never seemed particularly or unduly concerned with the small print. He is a guy that thinks big, and American voters probably appreciated that.
But that big-picture mentality could really get The Donald into trouble, were he to be put under oath by Mueller. Mueller has a long list of very specific questions, questions The Donald may not know all the answers to. But that won’t necessarily stop him from trying to answer them.
And according to Rudy Guiliani, Mueller has said that he won’t allow the president’s legal team to submit written answers to his long list of questions. In other words, he wants to get The Donald to give his own answers, unfiltered, under-oath, and on the record.
Which is why the Trump team is trying so hard to ensure that Mueller can’t get their boss into an interrogation room. Because without any script at all, Trump is almost certain to say something that is technically perjury. Even if he has no intention of lying to Mueller, his pattern of speech alone could be an issue.
Trump has a bombastic personality, and a tendency to ramble and contradict himself when put on the spot. But his statements tend to ring true because they lack the characteristic carefulness and buzzwordy polish that mark the speech of a career politician.
The Washington elites have mastered the art of making a long statement without actually stating anything. This is the opposite of the way Trump talks. Trump is not afraid to say what he actually believes about things, regardless of whether he thinks it will be popular or not.
Donald Trump actually has a spine, unlike most politicians, and he speaks his mind without fearing how it will impact his poll numbers.
It was this refreshingly unrefined and powerful way of speaking, this language of regular everyday folks, that helped Trump connect with his audience during his campaign. But in a legal environment where even an unintentional factual error could be used against him, it could really be disastrous.
Rudy Guiliani could be right. Maybe Mueller has given up on his plan to indict or subpoena Trump. But maybe he hasn’t. If Mueller really wants to “get” Trump, the easiest way is with an interview under-oath, a perjury trap like the one Guiliani fears.
And there’s also the fact that 19 people, including four Trump campaign advisers, have already been charged with a crime so far during this investigation. That gives Mueller a lot of potential “witnesses” to turn against Trump in exchange for lighter sentences.
The Mueller investigation is now entering its second year. The signs still seem to indicate that Robert Mueller is moving full-steam-ahead against the Trump administration. Only time will tell whether Rudy can keep The Donald out of an interrogation room, and battle back the looming threat of Mueller’s perjury trap.