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Giuliani hints at longer Trump Tower talks

In an interview with ABC, President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani suggested that Trump had spoken with his former attorney Michael Cohen beyond January 2016 about the possibility of a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Posted: Dec 17, 2018 5:28 PM
Updated: Dec 17, 2018 5:39 PM

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani spent his Sunday "defending" Donald Trump and "advocating" for the President's innocence as it relates to the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

He did an extremely poor job of it -- creating any number of problematic storylines for the President, including an acknowledgment that Trump's team had conversations with Russians about a business venture in Moscow far longer into the 2016 election than had been previously known.

But this exchange -- between Giuliani and ABC's George Stephanopoulos -- really took the cake for me. It begins with Giuliani bashing former Trump lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen, who is now a cooperating witness in the probe, as a liar:

GIULIANI: "And the Southern District says you can get out of jail if you do this, you've got three years now. There's a real motivation to sing like crazy. He's got to do a lot of singing to get out of the three years and he will say whatever he has to say. He's changed his story four or five times."

STEPHANOPOULOS: "So has the President."

GIULIANI: "The President's not under oath. And the President tried to do the best he can to remember what happened back at a time when he was the busiest man in the world."

This doesn't work on so many levels.

Let's start with the fact that Giuliani is admitting that Trump lied. Repeatedly. And that it's all OK because he wasn't under oath. Uh, what? This is the President of the United States we are talking about. Making a legalistic argument -- he didn't lie when there was a criminal penalty for doing so! -- isn't exactly a good pushback on the idea that Trump has a problem telling the truth.

Think of it this way: Giuliani is, in essence, arguing that Trump's lies don't matter because he didn't say them under oath. And that, presumably, if/when he was under oath, Trump would tell the truth -- and that truth would be different than all of the false things he has said publicly.

Which is, um, a remarkable thing.

Then there's this: Wouldn't Cohen be incentivized to tell the truth given that he has been under oath -- several times -- in this process? Isn't the threat of a more severe criminal punishment a likely disincentive for Cohen to lie? And isn't it also true that Trump doesn't have that same disincentive to lie? Lying to the media or your supporters might carry some sort of political penalty. But it doesn't hold any legal penalty. Trump can say almost anything, as long as he isn't under oath, and get away with it.

Again, take it out of the Trump, and even politics, context. Pretend your life depends, literally, on someone answering a single question truthfully. Would you rather have that person be under oath when giving you their answer or no? Obviously, you would prefer the under-oath version because, well, actions having consequences tends to bring out the truth.

And last but certainly not least is Giuliani's explanation for why Trump has not told the truth so many times. He did "the best he can to remember what happened back at a time when he was the busiest man in the world." So because Trump was running for the nation's highest office, he can't possibly be expected to remember -- or recollect truthfully -- what happened during the campaign? Because he was super busy?!

But Giuliani is asking for even more than that. He's saying that not only should no one blame Trump for, uh, misremembering events surrounding, among other things, payoffs to two women alleging they had affairs with him, but also that the conclusions reached by federal prosecutors that Trump directed and coordinated these payments should be discounted.

Remember: This is not, despite what Giuliani is trying to do, ultimately a he-said, he-said battle between Trump and Cohen. Yes, Cohen said, under oath, that Trump directed and coordinated the payouts. But the prosecutors in the Southern District of New York didn't just take his word for it! They knew -- like we know -- that Cohen has a history of not telling the truth. They corroborated his charges and found them to be accurate. So this is about a federal prosecutor vs. the President. Not Michael Cohen.

Like I said: There's a lot wrong with what Giuliani told Stephanopoulos. A lot.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115763

Reported Deaths: 3263
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 158701

Reported Deaths: 2680
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23292377
Mobile16916315
Tuscaloosa10345140
Montgomery10250197
Madison935096
Shelby739063
Baldwin665869
Lee654665
Calhoun459961
Marshall439550
Etowah428551
Houston417034
Morgan416435
DeKalb342629
Elmore320853
St. Clair295542
Limestone287230
Walker279492
Talladega266435
Cullman248024
Lauderdale229442
Jackson215915
Autauga205931
Franklin205531
Colbert202132
Russell19493
Blount193225
Chilton188432
Dallas186627
Coffee177111
Dale176351
Covington174729
Escambia172730
Clarke135217
Chambers135044
Pike134113
Tallapoosa132987
Marion108129
Barbour10339
Marengo101922
Butler101140
Winston92913
Geneva9067
Lawrence85832
Pickens85218
Bibb84014
Randolph82716
Hale76830
Washington74912
Clay74412
Cherokee73814
Henry7176
Lowndes71328
Bullock64917
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60830
Perry5926
Fayette57713
Cleburne5698
Wilcox56812
Conecuh56113
Macon53620
Lamar4965
Sumter47221
Choctaw39212
Greene34216
Coosa2043
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