Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s outburst-prone lawyer, has apparently been able to convince the president that he has nothing to fear, at least personally, from the Russia investigation. According to sources who spoke with the Washington Post, Trump has told some associates that Giuliani has convinced him that Mueller and his investigators have nothing incriminating on him:
“Rudy’s told him the other player is bluffing with a pair of 2’s,” said one Trump adviser. And Trump has latched onto Giuliani’s talking point that “collusion is not a crime,” believing it is catchy and brilliantly simplistic, according to people with knowledge of internal talks.
It’s not clear if Giuliani has done this convincing personally, or as a result of repeating the ideas on television — when Trump is arguably paying the most attention. After all, no one could be more easily convinced of Donald Trump’s innocence by someone on television than Donald Trump.
This doesn’t mean the president is carefree, however. The same report indicates that Trump is, in private, worrying a great deal about the Mueller probe, even as he gets more brazen about bashing it in public. Trump may not be focused about what will happen to him, but he is apparently concerned about what awaits his guileless son, Donald Jr.:
Trump has confided to friends and advisers that he is worried the Mueller probe could destroy the lives of what he calls “innocent and decent people” — namely Trump Jr., who is under scrutiny by Mueller for his role organizing a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. As one adviser described the president’s thinking, he does not believe his son purposefully broke the law, but is fearful nonetheless that Trump Jr. inadvertently may have wandered into legal jeopardy.
Trump is also reportedly lamenting what is happening to his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, whose trial got underway this past week and presents the narrative of an alleged fraud being exposed by his luxury clothing habit and former accountants in a real court of law. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that Manafort was being treated worse by the government than Al Capone, and “later called around to some advisers asking what they thought of the tweet, proud that he had come up with the Capone comparison,” per the Post’s sources.
Amid all this, the president is lying at a higher rate, amping up his rhetoric attacking the Russia investigation and anyone he deems responsible for it, and spending more and more time looking for a fix from his adulatory fans at big rallies. At those campaign events, “to the delight of his aides,” the president is also working to remember to talk about the local candidates he’s come to support — in addition to talking about himself and his many grievances and enemies.
Trump’s aides might be happy he isn’t screwing up his campaign trail appearances as badly as he could be, but the Associated Press reported on Saturday that some GOP candidates have been coming to the uncomfortable realization that Trump’s self-centeredness, local media domination, and overall scandal-saturated presidency may backfire on them after the rallies and on Election Day. That will only get worse, in every possible way, if Giuliani is mistaken about Trump’s legal safety, or if the Russia probe gets worse for Trump’s son or close associates. In the meantime, anxious Republicans can take on faith that Rudy Giuliani is a perfectly sane, well-known legal scholar with an excellent grasp of Trump’s defense — who is never wrong.