Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, an outspoken supporter of US President Donald Trump since the early days of his election campaign, is joining the team of lawyers representing the president in the special counsel’s Russia investigation.
With the addition of Giuliani, Trump gains a former US attorney, a proposed presidential candidate and a TV-savvy defender at a time when the White House is looking for ways to bring the president’s involvement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to a close.
The president has been weighing whether to sit for questioning by Mueller’s team and his legal team has repeatedly met with investigators to define the scope of the questions he would face.
Giuliani is expected to enter those negotiations, filling the void left by attorney John Dowd, who resigned last month.
It is a precarious time for Trump. His legal team has been told by Mueller that the president is not a target of the investigation, suggesting he is not in imminent criminal jeopardy.
However, he is currently a subject of the probe — a designation that could change at any time.
Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow told reporters that Giuliani would be focusing on the Mueller investigation — not the legal matters raised by the ongoing investigation into Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
That probe is being led by the US attorney in Manhattan, an office that Giuliani headed in the mid to late 1980s.
Cohen’s office, home and hotel room were raided last week by the FBI, which is investigating the lawyer’s business dealings, including suspected bank fraud.
They also sought records related to payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who both claim to have had sexual encounters with Trump several years ago.
The White House has denied the claims.
The raids enraged Trump, prompting him to publicly weigh whether to fire Mueller or US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
He also intensified his public attacks on the Mueller investigation, calling it “an attack on our country.”
In a statement announcing Giuliani’s hiring, Trump expressed his wish that the investigation wrap up soon and praised Giuliani, a fellow New Yorker, confidant and regular at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
“Rudy is great,” Trump said. “He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country.”
Giuliani would be joining Sekulow on Trump’s personal legal team, but would be working closely with White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who has also been handling the administration’s cooperation with the Mueller investigation.
“It is an honor to be a part of such an important legal team, and I look forward to not only working with the president, but with Jay, Ty and their colleagues,” Giuliani said in a statement.
In addition to Giuliani, two other former federal prosecutors — Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin — would be joining Trump’s legal team.
The two, who are married and run a law firm together, are based in Florida, but handle cases across the US. Both have extensive experience prosecuting organized crime and representing defendants in complex white-collar and fraud investigations.
Giuliani, who was New York mayor during the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, has known Trump for decades and his aggressive, hard-charging rhetorical style can at times mirror that of the president.
He had widely been expected to join Trump’s administration, but Giuliani rejected the idea of becoming attorney general, lobbying Trump to name him secretary of state.
The two men share similar policy ideals, publicly supporting law enforcement in ways that have alienated minorities, and taking bullish stances on immigration enforcement.
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