Look over there

Lawyers and tv explainers Joyce Vance and Mimi Rocah explain what Rudy Giuliani is up to. (Spoiler: it’s not lawyering.)

During an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday night, Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, seemed to acknowledge that there was collusion between one or more people involved in the Trump campaign and Russia — but just not involving his client, President Trump. Giuliani, who, along with Trump, has spent the last year telling the public that there has been no collusion, suddenly shifted gears and claimed he “never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign” only that there was “no collusion” on the part of “the president of the United States.”

Now why would he do that. Hmm. Oh, I know! If there is about to be news that there was collusion.

Let’s be clear, Giuliani’s conversation with Cuomo does not represent a subtle, nuanced shift in position. This is an admission by the president’s lawyer that when the president said “no collusion” and when he himself claimed there was no collusion by anyone, let alone “the top four or five people in the campaign,” they were not telling the truth.

Of course, if the position had always been that maybe there was collusion, but Trump wasn’t involved, the response to the special counsel’s investigation would have been to fully cooperate. Any rational leader in this position would want to know who the bad actors were in his or her campaign. But that was not the response, because that has not been the position — until now.

Which seems surprising in a former prosecutor, but Giuliani isn’t wearing his lawyer hat these days.

Giuliani is technically Trump’s lawyer. But the strategy he has been running since he joined the team in April 2018 is a political one, not a legal one. None of what he does is meant to convince a judge or a jury. It is meant to confuse the issues, to inoculate people against shocking news before it arrives, and to retain the president’s good standing with his base.

He’s not doing law, he’s doing PR, using his lawyer hat to make it more convincing. Nothing sleazy there at all.

Giuliani’s “defense strategy” for Trump has morphed over time, in response to evidence he and Trump’s other legal advisors could not refute, from 1) there were no contacts with Russians during the campaign, to 2) there were no election-related contacts with the Russians, to 3) there may have been contacts but it wasn’t collusion, to 4) collusion isn’t a crime, to 5) even if there was collusion and even if it was a crime, Trump himself didn’t participate or know anything about it.

Which would be sort of funny, if Trump weren’t…you know.

6 Responses to “Look over there”