President Trump has a new lawyer, and his name is Rudy Giuliani.
The former New York City mayor, US attorney, and Republican presidential candidate told the Washington Post’s Robert Costa and Josh Dawsey that he’s agreed to join Trump’s legal team responding to the Mueller investigation — saying that he wanted to “negotiate an end” to the probe. Martin and Jane Raskin, a husband-and-wife lawyer team specializing in complex white-collar criminal defense, will also join the team.
The news comes nearly a month after John Dowd, Trump’s previous top personal lawyer on Mueller matters, quit. In the interim, the president has struggled to recruit top-tier legal talent to join his team. Though Ty Cobb continues to lead the White House’s response to the investigation, only conservative activist lawyer Jay Sekulow, who has no criminal law background, has been representing Trump personally. Other hires were floated, and fell through.
Enter Giuliani. The former mayor, and current head of the consulting firm Giuliani Partners, has known Trump for decades and was an enthusiastic surrogate for him on the campaign trail in 2016. He was floated (both by himself and by others) as a potential secretary of state pick after Trump won. In the end, Trump passed him over for State, and Giuliani didn’t take an administration job. Now he’s stepping in in a very consequential post indeed — though it’s not clear, exactly, just how big his role will be.
just talked to Giuliani who said his role on Trump team is limited. He worked with Mueller at DOJ & as NYC Mayor (Mueller at FBI) He hopes knowing Mueller can help bring the investigation to conclusion, saying it "needs a little push." How soon? "maybe a couple of weeks"— Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) April 19, 2018
Giuliani enters at an important moment for the probe. The Post’s Carol Leonnig and Robert Costa have reported that Mueller is far along in his investigation of whether President Trump obstructed justice while in office, and that he could even write a report about his findings this summer. Negotiations about whether Trump will sit down for an interview with the special counsel’s team on the topic have been going on for months, without any success yet.
Then Mueller will reportedly continue with the collusion and Russian interference parts of the investigation. There have been no known new indictments or plea deals here for nearly two months. However, his team has reportedly been probing matters ranging from email hackings to the Trump campaign’s digital team to money from Russian oligarchs and the United Arab Emirates. And, separately from Mueller’s team, the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York is investigating Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, infuriating the president.
It has also been reported that Trump is not currently a “target” of Mueller’s probe, but rather a “subject.” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs and Chris Strohm reported Thursday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reiterated that Trump wasn’t a target in a meeting last week. It is unclear what exactly to make of that assurance — perhaps it’s on the level, perhaps it’s a strategic gambit, or perhaps it’s a simple acknowledgment that Mueller can’t indict a sitting president of the United States. Figuring out what’s going on will be Giuliani and his new colleagues’ job.