An earlier column discussed the unnerving statement by Trump that he answered the questions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller “very easily.” The column suggested that the claim may have been bravado since nothing is easy in this investigation. That would seem to be the case since Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani just contradicted the President and said that Trump did not answer the questions either easily or quickly. He described the process as taking two weeks and that the process was an utter “nightmare.” He also spoke openly about the President not being as controlled as other clients — a statement occurring after Trump former Secretary of State called Trump “undisciplined.”
Trump denied that his lawyer even played a role in drafting the answers in a prior interview:
TRUMP: No, my lawyers aren’t working on that. I’m working on that. I write the answers. My lawyers don’t write answers. I write answers.
TRUMP: I was asked a series of questions. I’ve answered them very easily — very easily. I’m sure they’re tricked up because, you know, they like to catch people — “Gee, you know, was the weather sunny or was it rainy? He said it may have been a good day. It was rainy. Therefore he told a lie. He perjured himself.” OK?
So you have to always be careful when you answer questions with people that probably have bad intentions.
But, no, it’s — the questions were very routinely answered by me — by me. OK?
QUESTION: Have they been submitted…
TRUMP: To the special — yeah.
QUESTION: And you submitted the answers…
TRUMP: I haven’t submitted them yet. We just — I just finished them.
Giuliani again departed from the President account and said “Answering those questions was a nightmare. It took him about three weeks to do what would normally take two days.” He added “The more controlled a person is, the more intelligent they are, the more they can make the decision. But he’s just like every other client. He’s not more … you know, controlled than any other client. In fact, he’s a little less.” Finally, Giuliani said that he has tried to stop Trump from tweeting but “I don’t think there’s anyone in the world that can stop Donald Trump from tweeting.” As has become something of a troubling pattern, Giuliani later had to walk back his comments.
This latest contradiction is curious since there was no reason for Giuliani to publicly offer an opposing narrative. While this may reflect an intention to build a record of the distraction caused by this investigation in later court challenges, it seems almost gratuitous in isolation. It leaves Trump looking either like a liar or clueless.
Giuliani also revealed that Trump is preoccupied with the treatment of Paul Manafort, another indication that Trump may be actively considering the pardon option.
Giuliani later reappeared to walk back the nightmare comment by tweeting that “some in the media are distorting my statement that answering the questions was a nightmare.That is because as President he was interrupted so often with critical and more important matters. It illustrates why Mueller should end this now and media should be fair.”
It also illustrates an ongoing need for better message control.