It was a tough three-day weekend for the president’s pro bono lawyer Rudy Giuliani. After an unexpected comment from the Mueller investigation disputing BuzzFeed’s Trump Tower Moscow reporting, Giuliani made a run of gaffe-filled media appearances that distracted from the rare piece of special counsel news that was good for the president. On Sunday, Giuliani quoted Trump as saying that the Moscow negotiations were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won.” On Monday — after saying he had “been through all the tapes” about the Trump Moscow deal then claiming he misspoke — Giuliani told The New Yorker that he was afraid his headstone would read: “Rudy Giuliani: He lied for Trump.”
According to two reports on Tuesday, the administration is tiring of Giuliani’s interview strategy. “Before Rudy stepped in it, Mueller had basically called BuzzFeed ‘fake news,’” a Republican close to the White House told Vanity Fair, annoyed that the lawyer had botched the opportunity. Trump was reportedly “furious” and “screaming” over Giuliani’s weekend tear. Politico reports that Giuliani’s comments to the Times about a tower in Moscow “enraged Trump” because it undermined his public statement. (In a telling crisis-PR move, Giuliani gave a tone-deaf interview to Politico, claiming, in an article about the perception that he is a one-man blooper reel, that he has a “mastery of the facts.”) In the Politico report, a White House aide put it succinctly: “Handling Rudy’s fuck-ups takes more than one man.”
The Giuliani show is reportedly frustrating Emmet Flood, the lawyer who is tasked with handling the special counsel investigation for Trump, and, ostensibly, cleaning up after the television attorney. Meanwhile, Vanity Fair reports a fracas over Giuliani’s future in which Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are lobbying to send Giuliani packing, while outside influences like Corey Lewandowski and campaign alum David Bossie are fighting to keep him in place. Prior to this weekend at least, Trump had backed Giuliani because he understood the collusion story to be a “messaging battle, and Rudy much of the time has been a very effective messenger,” according to a White House aide speaking to Politico. But it’s gotten so bad, according to an Associated Press report, that Trump allies have recommended that Giuliani be embargoed from nighttime interviews because of concerns that he may appear on TV after drinking. (Giuliani has denied previous reports of alcohol affecting his TV performance.)
In his damage-control Politico interview, Giuliani suggested that reporters are stymied by his debate tactics, and that they are confusing his hypotheticals with literal statements. “The problem is people don’t understand, or people don’t want to understand alternative arguing, which is what you do in court all the time,” he said. “People who want to understand it, do.” In theory that’s fine, but in praxis, alt-argument gems like “even if he did do it, it wouldn’t be a crime” don’t always play as intended.