Rudy Giuliani has struck again.
Time Magazine reported Wednesday afternoon that President Trump told Giuliani and his lead personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, that he wasn't aware of the "consulting fees" paid by several corporations and one Russian oligarch to Michael Cohen - payments that were publicly revealed last night by Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti.
And once again, Giuliani's poorly phrased on-the-record comments appear to have opened the door to criminality on the part of President Trump and/or Cohen, his former personal attorney.
Did Trump direct Cohen to accept payments from AT&T and Novartis (the former of which is suing Trump's Department of Justice to stop it from blocking its merger with Time Warner.
"I have no idea, I doubt it," said Giuliani.
Asked if the President directed Cohen to accept payments from companies like Novartis and AT&T, Guiliani said, "I have no idea. I doubt it." Guiliani believes the news helps Trump’s legal team because it feeds the impression that the investigations are moving far from Russian interference.
"They are chasing rainbows," Guiliani said. "This is yet another irrelevant thing that is made into a big thing."
A definitive "no" would've been a much better answer from a lawyer who is supposed to be defending Trump's best interests.
How about Avenatti's claims that Trump and Cohen were engaged in blatant pay-to-play self-dealing?
"It's probably two-thirds false," Giuliani said.
Guiliani said he was reluctant to call the President Tuesday night because he didn’t want to take him away from monitoring his Secretary of State’s negotiations over a summit with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the release of three Americans from North Korea. Sekulow and Guiliani initially left a message at the White House saying they would like to talk to Trump, but it wasn’t urgent and only if he had free time. Sekulow declined to comment on the phone call.
During the call, Trump sounded “exhilarated and happy and satisfied” with what was happening on North Korea, Guiliani said. "Which is a hell of a lot more important than some stupid claim that is probably two-thirds false from this ambulance-chasing lawyer."
How about negotiations between the special counsel about a potential interview with Trump?
They're on hold, Giuliani said.
Given that the special counsel’s initial mandate is to investigate Russian collusion with Trump’s campaign, Trump’s legal team will "try to block them from everything they can do which would be far afield from that," he said.
Discussions over whether Trump will agree to be interviewed by Mueller are "right now on hold," he said. Trump shouldn’t take steps to shut down Mueller investigation, he said, but Mueller himself should bring it to a close "because they don’t really have anything."
While these weren't the most embarrassing comments Giuliani has made in the past week, they still weren't anywhere near the type of tight-lipped damage control that we'd expect from a personal attorney. We can't help but wonder: Is this some kind of revenge plot by Giuliani to get back at his "longtime friend" for choosing Rex Tillerson over him to serve as the Trump administration's first Secretary of State?
Of course, if Giuliani wanted to take Trump down, we imagine there are more expeditious options that he could choose.
But regardless of Giuliani's intentions, it's starting to look that way.