After former White House lead attorney John Dowd was pushed out for insisting that President Trump agree to an in-person interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Rudy Giuliani, the newest member of Trump's legal team and also now apparently the de facto leader, has reportedly met with Mueller to begin negotiating the terms of a Trump meeting, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The irony in Giuliani meeting with Mueller is that Giuliani once served as the US attorney for the Southern District of New York - the same office that is investigating Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
The meeting is also surprising for another reason: Until recently, it had appeared as if Trump would ultimately decline to sit for an interview with Mueller. Furthermore, rumors recently circulated that Mueller and his team were preparing a path forward that didn't involve a presidential interview.
But all that has changed, apparently.
During their meeting, Giuliani reportedly sought to wrestle some information out of Mueller about the probe and how much longer it could reasonably be expected to continue. It has previously been reported that Mueller could conclude the probe within a few months of an interview with Trump, and that a presidential interview was the special counsel's last major remaining obstacle. Mueller also reportedly told Giuliani that his questions would mostly pertain to the transition and Trump's first months in office.
The face-to-face discussions illustrated how Giuliani is functioning as Trump’s chief liaison and lead negotiator with the special counsel. The meeting renewed talks that had largely faltered since the resignation last month of John Dowd, a veteran lawyer who was serving as Trump’s lead outside attorney on the investigation.
"I’m doing it because I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country and because I have high regard for the president and for Bob Mueller," Giuliani said in an interview with The Washington Post last week.
Trump said in a statement last week that Giuliani "wants to get this matter quickly resolved."
Of course, Giuliani is a particularly suitable lead attorney - and it's somewhat surprising that he is only just joining the Trump team - thanks to his longstanding friendship with Mueller.
Giuliani, 73, a former New York mayor and U.S. attorney, has known Mueller for decades through their work in federal law enforcement. Both men were joined by members of their teams in the Tuesday sit-down meeting at Mueller’s office in southwest Washington.
During their first meeting, the former New York mayor reportedly made it clear to Mueller that Trump is still feeling reluctant - a position that's hardened since the FBI raid on Cohen's home, hotel room and office. And while an interview now appears more likely, Trump could still pull out at the last minute and risk a subpoena from Mueller. If a subpoena is issued, it could trigger a legal battle that would likely require the Supreme Court to weigh in.
But maybe all that can be avoided.
Compared to some of the other characters on the Trump legal team, Giuliani actually seems like the adult in the room. But is it also possible that Mueller knows Giuliani well enough to know that the former New York City mayor can be, at times, too trusting? In other words, just because Giuliani seems like he has a steady hand on the wheel, doesn't mean he can prevent Trump from walking into a perjury trap.