President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani took to the airwaves Sunday to question the ethics and tactics of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the presidential election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.
“This isn’t a search for the truth. It’s a witch hunt,” Giuliani told host John Catsimatidis in an interview with AM 970 in New York. “This is what is wrong with these special prosecutors and independent counsels. They think they are God.”
Giuliani added: “They seem to want to prosecute people at any cost, including the cost of ethical behavior and the rights of people.”
Giuliani accused Mueller of crossing boundaries for the purpose of “intimidating” Trump’s allies into saying “what he believes (is) his version of the truth,” in light of the surprise plea agreement Thursday with Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer.
Cohen confessed in his guilty plea that he lied to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal he pursued on Trump’s behalf during the heat of the 2016 Republican campaign. He said he lied to be consistent with Trump’s “political messaging.”
Cohen said he discussed the proposal with Trump on multiple occasions and with members of the president’s family, according to documents filed by Mueller.
There is no clear link in the court filings between Cohen’s statements and Mueller’s central question of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. And, nothing said in court on Thursday, or in associated court filings, addressed whether Trump or his aides had directed Cohen to mislead Congress.
Still, the case underscored how Trump’s business entity, the Trump Organization, was negotiating business in Moscow well beyond the point that had been previously acknowledged, and that associates of the president were mining Russian connections during the race.
“They obviously exerted a lot of pressure on him. Mr. Cohen unfortunately has a history of significant lies in the past,” Giuliani added in the interview Sunday.
Giuliani previously had said that Trump’s business organization voluntarily gave Mueller the documents cited in the guilty plea “because there was nothing to hide.”
Trump on Thursday called Cohen a “weak person,” who was lying to get a lighter sentence, and stressed that the real estate deal at issue was never a secret and never executed.
“There would be nothing wrong if I did do it,” Trump said of pursuing the project. “I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gone back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?”
He said the primary reason he didn’t pursue it was “I was focused on running for president.”
Cohen is the first person charged by Mueller with lying to Congress, an indication the special counsel is prepared to treat that offense as seriously as lying to federal agents and a warning shot to dozens of others who have appeared before lawmakers.
Cohen told two congressional committees last year that the talks about the tower project ended in January 2016, a lie he said was an act of loyalty to Trump. In fact, the negotiations continued until June 2016, Cohen acknowledged.
Speaking of Mueller's team, Giuliani said: “They want (Manafort) to give certain forms of evidence that would implicate the president in things that Mr. Manafort says are untrue.”
“And they are pressuring him, and creating a real risk that the man might commit perjury,” he said to Catsimatidis. “This kind of pressure can create the risk of tainted testimony.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.