Tue, May 08, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Giuliani struggles to help Trump with his defense

CONFOUNDING:New Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said he is still learning the facts about Trump’s various cases. His hiring is aiding special counsel Mueller’s efforts, a pundit said

AP, WASHINGTON

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks at the Iran Freedom Convention in Washington on Saturday last week.

Photo: Reuters

US President Donald Trump’s new attorney, Rudy Giuliani is trying hard to support his client’s stance on legal challenges coming from investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election and a US$130,000 hush payment to a porn actress, but he is off to a rough start.

The former New York City mayor is delivering confounding and at times contradictory statements as he mounts Trump’s defense through the media in a bewildering display that has even the president’s allies concerned. Giuliani’s aggressive defense of the president in recent weeks has pleased Trump, but exasperated US White House aides and attorneys.

Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor who has informally counseled the president, said on NBC’s Meet the Press that recent developments are aiding the efforts of special counsel Robert Mueller.

“It seems to me that the approach last week of the Trump team plays into the hands of Mueller’s tactic to try, at any cost, to try to find technical violations against lower-ranking people so that they can be squeezed,” Dershowitz said.

In an interview on Sunday with ABC’s This Week, Giuliani dismissed as rumor his own statements about Trump’s payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, said he cannot speak to whether the president lied to US citizens when he denied knowledge of the silencing agreement and would not rule out the president asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the Russia investigation.

Giuliani also could not say whether Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, had made similar payments to other women on the president’s behalf.

Giuliani said that despite Trump’s openness to sit down with Mueller in the Russia investigation, he would strongly advise Trump against it.

Giuliani could not guarantee that Trump would not end up asserting his constitutional right to refuse to answer questions.

“How could I ever be confident of that?” Giuliani said.

During a 2016 campaign rally, Trump disparaged staffers of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for taking the Fifth Amendment during a congressional investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.

“The mob takes the Fifth,” Trump told supporters. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

Giuliani, who was hired by Trump last month, said he is still learning the facts of the Mueller case and the details of Trump’s knowledge of the payment to Daniels, who has alleged a sexual tryst with Trump in 2006.

The US$130,000 payment was made by Cohen days before the 2016 election, raising questions of compliance with campaign finance and ethics laws.

Legal experts have said the revelation that Trump reimbursed Cohen raises new questions, including whether the money represented repayment of an undisclosed loan or could be seen as reimbursement for a campaign expenditure. Either could be legally problematic.

Both Giuliani and Trump have insisted the payment to Daniels was not a campaign expense.

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