#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor
In truth, the problem with calling Rudy Giuliani the gift that keeps on giving is not the fact of its politic, but, rather the disaster that statement represents. Caroline Orr, for instance, noted yesterday—
Speaking about the Mueller probe, Rudy Giuliani tells Judge Jeanine: “Maybe they think Manafort’s somebody they can flip faster.”
… hence implying that Manafort has incriminating evidence on Trump that would give him leverage to flip.
—and that ought to be hilarious except for the fact that it is real. And toward a certain political objection we might simply note that regardless of aesthetics and sincerely held beliefs, there really are investigations afoot, and one of President Trump’s attorneys really is putting on some extraordinary manner of flaming excremental spectacle.
The lede from Zeke Miller for Associated Press is striking insofar as it is a lawyer saying it instead of some conservative pundit on cable news—and, sure, go ahead and make the obvious point about Rudy Giuliani as a pundit, but what, really, is anyone to actually do with it?—but then we also face the prospect that this is an attorney for the President of the United States, which ought to be significant in and of itself even before begging the question of a sitting president pleading the Fifth:
President Donald Trump’s new attorney, Rudy Giuliani, won’t rule out the possibility that the president would assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the swirling Russia investigation.
“How could I ever be confident of that?” the former New York City mayor and U.S. attorney said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Giuliani said despite Trump’s openness to sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller, he would strongly advise Trump against it.
“I’m going to walk him into a prosecution for perjury like Martha Stewart?” Giuliani said. Stewart was convicted in 2004 of lying to investigators and obstruction in an insider trading case.
Giuliani suggested that Trump wouldn’t necessarily comply with a subpoena from Mueller, but he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the president sitting for an interview with Mueller.
“He’s the president of the United States,” Giuliani said. “We can assert the same privileges other presidents have.”
That last is, technically, true; many critics will rightly point out it is also functionally meaningless; asserting privilege is different from actually exercising them insofar as one must make the assertion stick, and history does in fact seem clear on this point, which in turn means invoking and asserting a constitutional right: The President of the United States will not convey any true information that would incriminate him.
There is in recent weeks an appearance of emerging strategy to recast the question of Donald Trump’s conduct approximately according to the idea that, “Of course he did!”
The implication is unclear. The simplest version is, “Of course he did, why wouldn’t he?”
A slightly more complicated argument would be, “Of course he did, but it’s not illegal for the fact of his sincerely held belief that it isn’t.”
Yet we cannot rule out a convolution of incompetence intended to justify President Trump: “Of course he did, look at all of these people who not only didn’t stop him, but gave him advice lending to this behavior! He’s not a professional politician, and these people took advantage of him because he didn’t know how to stop them, which is only proof that he needs to be president in order to #DrainTheSwamp!”
It is extraordinary in itself if an attorney helps indict his client; that this is an attorney to the President of the United States ought to be unimaginable, even more so that the lawyer would pretend such ignorance as to wonder how he could ever be confident that his client is without the sort of criminal exposure requiring Fifth Amendment protection, and then further demonstrate his own stupidity by suggesting his client is a perjury risk.
Juristically, it is astonishing conduct for an attorney; politically, it starts to sound like an opposition fantasy. But the President of the United States has apparent criminal exposure. The President furthermore has apparent criminal exposure pertaining to his election. Even further, the President is in this context a perjury risk.
This is what Rudy Giuliani just did, in one television appearance, to his client, President Donald Trump.
Along the way it seemed worthwhile to wonder about who might attempt to hold out under scrutiny from the Mueller investigation according to sincerely held beliefs in alternative facts:
• At some point, someone in the #trumpswindle is going to throw down explicitly that, certainly, they said this and did this other thing but it’s not illegal because they say so.
At what point does it occur to these people that, yes, they really can get in trouble for what they are doing? How many will recognize the danger before Mueller calls them in? How many will never understand why this is happening to them?
That such questions are viable at all really ought to count for something.
Image notes: Top — President Donald Trump leaves after concluding his remarks at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, 19 July 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images) Right — Tweet by Caroline Orr, 5 May 2018
Miller, Zeke. “Giuliani not ruling out chance of Trump taking the Fifth”. Associated Press. 6 May 2018.
Orr, Caroline. “Speaking about the Mueller probe, Rudy Giuliani tells Judge Jeanine....” Twitter. 5 May 2018.