Trump Agitated by Giuliani's Interviews01/23 06:24

Trump Agitated by Giuliani's Interviews01/23 06:24

   Rudy Giuliani's latest media blitz, which was filled with a dizzying array 
of misstatements and hurried clarifications, agitated President Donald Trump 
and some of his allies, who have raised the possibility that the outspoken 
presidential lawyer be at least temporarily sidelined from televised interviews.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- Rudy Giuliani's latest media blitz, which was filled with a 
dizzying array of misstatements and hurried clarifications, agitated President 
Donald Trump and some of his allies, who have raised the possibility that the 
outspoken presidential lawyer be at least temporarily sidelined from televised 
interviews.

   Trump was frustrated with Giuliani, according to three White House officials 
and Republicans close to the White House who were not authorized to speak 
publicly about private conversations. The president told advisers that he felt 
his lawyer had obscured what he believed was a public relations victory: the 
special counsel's rare public statement disputing portions of a BuzzFeed News 
story that Trump instructed his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie before 
Congress.

   The president told confidants that Giuliani had "changed the headlines" for 
the worse and raised the possibility that Giuliani do fewer cable hits, at 
least for a while, according to the officials and Republicans.

   Several of Trump's influential outside allies also have begun expressing 
reservations about Giuliani. Some members of this informal network of advisers, 
whom the president frequently calls from the White House residence, urged Trump 
in recent days to bench Giuliani --- but most stopped short of suggesting he be 
fired, according to four White House officials and Republicans close to the 
White House.

   Trump has not expressed an inclination to dismiss Giuliani.

   Rarely reluctant to appear before TV cameras or answer a reporter's call, 
Giuliani has spent nearly a year acting as a sort of human smokescreen for 
Trump. He has long played the role more of presidential spokesman than 
attorney, often unleashing public attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller's 
probe into possible contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.

   But a recent set of interviews, which were quickly pilloried across cable 
news, prompted increased concerns about both Trump's legal exposure and the 
effectiveness of his vocal attorney.

   Frustration about Giuliani in the West Wing has long run rampant. The former 
New York City mayor, who frequently speaks directly to the president, is 
Trump's outside counsel and works in a different orbit than White House 
officials, who are still left to play damage control after some of Giuliani's 
wilder interviews.

   Some of Trump's allies have suggested that Giuliani be barred from evening 
interviews because of concerns that he was going on TV after drinking, 
according to three Republicans close to the White House.

   Giuliani has previously insisted he does not have an issue with drinking, 
denying to Politico last May that it affected his interviews. He added: "I may 
have a drink for dinner. I like to drink with cigars."

   The latest furor began Sunday as Giuliani, wearing a suit, tie and New York 
Yankees World Series ring, appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" and dramatically 
altered the timeline regarding discussions about a Trump Tower in Moscow, now 
asserting they stretched until November 2016. That statement, which suggested 
that the Trump Organization was engaged in business dealings with Russia up to 
and beyond the election, ignited a firestorm and then an abrupt walk-back from 
Giuliani.

   He issued a statement the next day saying his comments about the project 
"were hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the President. My 
comments did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such 
discussions."

   Then, hours later in an interview with The New Yorker, Giuliani raised 
eyebrows again when he seemed to suggest he had listened to tapes of Trump and 
Cohen that had not previously been discussed.

   "I shouldn't have said tapes," Giuliani said as he tried to backtrack. He 
then added that there were "No tapes. Well, I have listened to tapes, but none 
of them concern this." He did not elaborate further.

   The muddled interviews were a failed victory lap over the BuzzFeed story, 
which prompted a number of House Democrats to raise the possibility of 
impeaching Trump. But the special counsel, which rarely issues public 
responses, said that at least portions of the story were not accurate, leading 
both Giuliani and Trump to crow about media bias against the Republican 
president.

   BuzzFeed has issued statements standing by its reporting. No other media 
outlet has confirmed the story. Giuliani did not immediately respond to a 
request for comment Tuesday.

   This is far from the first time Giuliani has been forced to issue a 
clarification, as he has frequently offered contradictory accounts of 
developments in the Russia investigation. Earlier this month, he was forced to 
clean up a remark in which he asserted that he only could vouch that the 
president had not colluded with Russia, rather than the whole campaign, a 
dramatic change of story.

   "Rudy had done a very good job going on TV and fighting back and laying down 
a defense of the president," said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign 
official. "But now it's time to get precise, you can't be so loose anymore. He 
had a major slip."

   At times, Giuliani's seemingly out-of-nowhere admissions in interviews have, 
in fact, been part of a strategy to get ahead of damaging news stories. Last 
May, Giuliani went on Sean Hannity's Fox News show and acknowledged that Trump 
repaid Cohen for hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, the porn star alleging 
an affair with Trump, a statement viewed then as a misstep but later perceived 
as an effort to minimize revelations about possible campaign finance violations.

   After struggling to find a cable-ready defender, Trump has been mostly 
appreciative of Giuliani's attack-dog style --- and, for a time, his broadsides 
against Mueller appeared to play a role in driving down the special counsel's 
poll ratings. But at other times the president has expressed dismay at 
Giuliani's scattershot style.

   Part of his confusion is that while Giuliani frequently speaks to his 
client, the president's legal team has had a difficult time corralling Trump 
for a lengthy debriefing about the facts of the case, particularly from events 
stemming before the presidency, according to one official and a Republican 
close to the White House.

   Still, Giuliani is regarded as an important member of the legal team. A 
former federal prosecutor, he has also been the team's public face and, even if 
not the primary author of letters and other documents to the Mueller team, he 
has nonetheless helped develop strategy. And TV networks have not shown any 
reluctance to book Giuliani, despite his unreliability, because of his 
rock-solid resume and the lack of any Trump surrogates willing to appear on a 
cable network that is not Fox News.

   "I am afraid it will be on my gravestone. 'Rudy Giuliani: He lied for 
Trump.' Somehow, I don't think that will be it," Giuliani told The New Yorker. 
"But, if it is, so what do I care? I'll be dead. I figure I can explain it to 
St. Peter."

   Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not respond to questions Tuesday 
about whether Trump still had confidence in Giuliani.


(KA)

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