Rudy: “Truth isn’t truth”

Orwell lives.

Via WaPo:  ‘Truth isn’t truth’: Giuliani weighs risks of possible Trump interview in Russia probe.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s lead attorney in the ongoing Russia probe, said Sunday that he will not allow special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to rush Trump into an interview because investigators could try to catch the president in a lie based on their version of the facts.

“I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury,” Giuliani said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Giuliani’s exchange with host Chuck Todd produced an odd back-and-forth on the meaning of truth in the context of the Russia investigation.

“When you tell me that [Trump] should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, that’s so silly — because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth,” Giuliani said.

Todd responded, “Truth is truth.”

“No, it isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani goes on (the video can be seen at the Meet the Press site) to say that Comey claims one thing and Trump another to suggest that “truth isn’t truth.”  But surely the right claim is that his client is telling the truth, and Comey isn’t.  However that charitable reading is problematic because Trump’s relationship with the truth is dubious as best, and Giuliani has to know that fact.  As such, I think Giuliani is rather consciously trying to avoid claims of truth over falsehood, but is rather trying “what is truth, anyway?”

So, the administration that brought us “alternative facts” and who constantly complains about “fake news” (as defined by news it doesn’t like) is now telling us “truth isn’t truth.”

It is noteworthy that all of these formulations are in defense of the President.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. al Ameda says:

    yes, unfortunately I watched that … the first thing that occurred to me was that Giuliani has successfully transitioned himself from a formerly serious person to an SNL routine.

    Chuck Todd, bless his kind heart, even gave him an out, he said, paraphrasing, ‘you know, this is going to become a bad meme … , ” and Rudy was not the least bit deterred.

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  2. Mikey says:

    Basically saying “it’s impossible to lie if there’s no actual truth.”

    That is, of course, a line of reasoning against which conservatives have railed for decades, but the cult of Trump overrules all principle.

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  3. An Interested Party says:

    Where’s the White Rabbit? Where’s the Cheshire Cat? Trump and his henchmen are only believable if you live in Wonderland…his conservative enablers should realize that…

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  4. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    Quite so. Falwell Junior said the other day that the “real Americans” love Trump because “he talks like us.” Presumably that includes lying at the drop of a hat.

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  5. mattbernius says:

    The perjury trap is a very real thing — especially for someone, like Trump, who has a habit of shooting from the cuff. So his team is doing the right thing for their client in slowing down and actively trying to prevent any interview.

    However, Giuliani would have done a much better service to his client by explaining the perjury trap. The fact that, instead, he went full postmodern isn’t going to help in any way. Two decades after Clinton was rightfully heckled for “it depends on the meaning of what the word “is” is,” Conservatives seem to have discovered (and are doubling down on) that “actually Clinton wasn’t wrong.”

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  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    But surely the right claim is that his client is telling the truth, and Comey isn’t.

    Trump’s first round of lawyers advised him to co-operate. Because those poor dumb bastards thought Trump was innocent.

    Since then all defenses of Trump have tacitly assumed his guilt. Everyone knows he’s guilty, including every Republican. They know he’s Putin’s tool. They know he’s corrupt. They are all, each and every one of them, from the lowest OTB troll to Steve Bannon and Devin Nunes, knowingly lying to cover up for the treason of the President of the United States.

    If Wonder Woman showed up and lassoed the entire population of the US and forced people to answer honestly, 90% or more would say that Trump conspired with Putin and is still doing so. They know, just as all those ‘good Germans’ knew.

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  7. Slugger says:

    Perjury traps? Rudy, you just fell into a moron trap.

  8. TM01 says:

    And Comey is just a paragon of virtue.

    Comey tells his story. Trump tells his.

    Mueller can choose to believe either one. Who do you think he’ll choose to believe? It doesn’t matter if Trump is 100% honest, Mueller can easily choose to file charges against Trump just because their stories differ.

    Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the Perjury Trap is a moron.

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  9. Gustopher says:

    Giuliani brings up an important point — Truth isn’t truth, truth is whatever Donald Trump says it is.

    Black is white, up is down, and there was no collusion.

    We have the lowest unemployment in history and Mexicans are coming to take our jobs.

    Tax cuts pay for themselves.

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  10. Kathy says:

    Are we still always been at war with Eurasia?

  11. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: yes, while enjoying unprecedented peace.

  12. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher: War is Peace.

  13. gVOR0& says:

    I caught a couple minutes. Giuliani was going on about how the lady lawyer didn’t represent Russia and they had no reason to think any dirt offered came from the Russian government. At least while I watched Chuckles Todd didn’t mention the Goldstone email that initiated the meeting.

    The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.

    Why don’t the supposedly liberal MSM ram this stuff down Giuliani’s throat?

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @TM01:

    And Comey is just a paragon of virtue.

    No one is a paragon, least of all the pathological liar in the White House, but paragonishness ain’t the point. Comey kept contemporaneous notes and had contemporaneous conversations with other guys who also took notes. And it’s worth mentioning that if Comey is a perjurer, we’re going to have a whole lot of empty space in federal prisons after all the gangsters he put away file appeals.

    Comey tells his story. Trump tells his. Mueller can choose to believe either one. Who do you think he’ll choose to believe? It doesn’t matter if Trump is 100% honest, Mueller can easily choose to file charges against Trump just because their stories differ.

    There is of course zero chance that Trump is 100% honest. In fact, there’s zero chance he’s 10% honest. But that is beside the point. The trying of facts is done by a jury, not by a prosecutor. Trump would be represented by councel [sic] and have every opportunity to be found innocent.

    But of course you know he won’t be found innocent for the excellent reason that he’s guilty. As you know perfectly well.

    Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the Perjury Trap is a moron.

    Oh, believe me, we all know it’s a perjury trap because Trump is incapable of telling the truth even when he isn’t covering up his crimes. He’s told several different versions of the famous Trump Tower meeting already.

    He’s guilty. You know it. You’re now lying in order to cover up for cult leader’s crimes. Crimes which include betraying the United States to a hostile power.

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  15. Mister Bluster says:

    It doesn’t matter if Trump is 100% honest,..

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  16. Kylopod says:

    @TM01:

    Mueller can choose to believe either one. Who do you think he’ll choose to believe? It doesn’t matter if Trump is 100% honest, Mueller can easily choose to file charges against Trump just because their stories differ.

    Nobody gets convicted of perjury simply because the federal investigator refuses to believe the person. You need objective evidence contradicting the person’s testimony: a stain on Monica’s dress, say, or a recording of Trump discussing the meeting at Trump Tower.

    Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the Perjury Trap is a moron.

    That’s not what a perjury trap is, moron.

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  17. Mikey says:

    @TM01: Oh, for chrissake. I’m so damn sick of people like you trying to spin and handwave and justify all the bullshit that comes from Trump and all his traitorous lackeys. You’re seriously trying to take a guy who at the very least is shirking his duty to defend America, and at the worst has actively conspired with a hostile foreign power to steal a Presidential election, and make him the victim? Please fuck most directly and expeditiously off.

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  18. Lounsbury says:

    @TM01:

    And Comey is just a paragon of virtue.

    As compared to Trump, yes.

    As for perjury trap, well… Truth is the defence against perjury.

    Funny that.

    Simple defence against perjury in a sworn setting, don’t lie.

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  19. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Have they no shame?

    They have no shame.

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  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I had a hearing a couple weeks ago during which my lawyer said very little (and I said too much) and afterwards he started to explain why he said so little. I shut him down with, “It’s OK, I appreciate a lawyer who knows when to STFU.” thinking to myself “Now if only I could do the same.”**
    Good thing trump is too stupid to do the same.

    **for the record, the damage I caused was minimal, just unnecessary.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mattbernius:

    The perjury trap is a very real thing

    Stop it, stop it, STOP IT!!! STOP giving this whole idea legitimacy.

    A trap is a thing that is hidden, one stumbles into it and is caught. There is NO, ZERO, NADA, trap. There is telling the truth, and if that is detrimental to ones legal health there is claiming the 5th. NOBODY has to lie, whether talking to the FBI or testifying under oath. OR ANY OTHER GAWD DAMNED THING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  22. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Mikey:

    That is, of course, a line of reasoning against which conservatives have railed for decades, but the cult of Trump overrules all principle.

    Kind of like all the people who ought to no better suddenly jumping on the “if you’re innocent, you have nothing to fear from law enforcement” bandwagon as long as Trump is the one getting gored?

    While I have little doubt Trump is guilty of numerous crimes and would indeed deliberately lie to investigators to cover up those crimes, the fact is that investigations have nothing to do with determining the truth, they’re about collecting evidence to support a pre-conceived conclusion. No one, especially the innocent, should voluntarily cooperate with an investigation. As the Miranda warning goes, “it can and will be used against them in a court of law”.

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  23. CSK says:

    Trump is insisting that “many reporters”–unnamed, of course–are calling him “to apologize” for the “Fake News” story about Don McGahn in the NYTimes.

    Suuuuuuure.

  24. Stormy Dragon says:

    Since everyone here seems to have lost their minds:

    Do NOT talk to the police, EVER!

  25. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Do not talk to the police ever, without a lawyer. El Cheeto won’t be interviewed without his legal team (such as it is).

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Just quote it:

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

  27. Hal_10000 says:

    Dammit. All right. I guess I’ll have to be the one to defend Rudy. And I hate defending Rudy. It was extremely poorly stated, but he’s talking about something important.

    It’s very very easy for someone to talk to a federal investigator, think they are telling the truth and then find themselves charged with lying to investigators. It’s why every defense lawyer I know has, “Don’t talk to the damned feds” on their business cards. Rudy knows this because, as a former prosecutor, he’s done this to people. There is no way any lawyer in their right mind would let a client like Trump talk to Mueller without very strict boundaries on what will be discussed. You think Trump will say, “I don’t recall?” when he actually doesn’t remember?

    This line of “just tell the cops the truth and nothing will happen” is garbage and Rudy is right that it’s garbage. And if you don’t believe me, read that link, written by Ken White, a former federal prosecutor and current defense lawyer, on how easy it is to get yourself into trouble even you are absolutely 100% honest (which Trump is uh, not). Read Silverglate on why he always records testimony given to federal agents.

    Truth is truth. But Courts of Law don’t deal with truth. They deal with testimony, allegations, evidence and laws.

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  28. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: He’s the fucking president of the United States of America. He runs the police. (At least the federal version.) Sorry, but the rules that apply to a street thug caught with a baggie of meth don’t apply to the man who holds the most powerful office in the country. Yes, he god damn well does have to talk to the police — because if the president won’t stand up for the rule of law, then we have no rule of law in this country.

    Maybe as a libertarian that appeals to you. The thought of it makes me sick.

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  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:
    Well said.

  30. Stormy Dragon says:

    @wr:

    The fifth amendment “makes you sick”?

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  31. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    No it wasn’t. It’s basically just left-wing Trumpism. Ignore any principle as long as it “owns the other side”.

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  32. Jen says:

    These people really are embarrassing.

    Clinton’s lawyers didn’t want him talking to the special counsel either, but he did, because to not do so would have looked fishy in the extreme. When you are the president, optics matter (unless you are a Trump supporter and then anything goes, I guess).

    Trump’s own lawyers used to team up and always have two in the room with him because he would so frequently change stories on them.

  33. @Hal_10000:

    Dammit. All right. I guess I’ll have to be the one to defend Rudy. And I hate defending Rudy. It was extremely poorly stated, but he’s talking about something important.

    I don’t have a problem with Rudy, as an attorney, keeping his client from being interviewed.

    I take exception to a) the notion that there is not truth, and that b) Trump is to be considered on par with Comey in terms of likely truthfulness (not to mention that the issue is not just Comey v. Trump)

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  34. DrDaveT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The fifth amendment “makes you sick”?

    Used by the President of the United States? Yes.

    The 5th Amendment exists to protect the powerless and exploited. When you become President, you give up certain presumptions. Ordinary people aren’t expected to make their tax returns public, either.

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  35. TM01 says:

    John Brennan:
    I didn’t mean treason.

    Was he channeling his inner Whoopi? It wasn’t “treason treason.”

    But now that we know, per Brennan himself, that Trump didn’t commit treason, what’s the whole basis for an interview with Muller? I mean, doesn’t this just kill one of your entire narratives?

    You can all stop calling Trump a traitor now.

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  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Yeah, but doesn’t this all depend on the meaning of “is?”

    ETA: “That is, of course, a line of reasoning against which conservatives have railed for decades…”

    But only to the extent that it suited their needs. They had no problems with Reagan’s dishonesty at all, for example. HW Bush got in trouble for lying, but that was about their money, so it’s different.

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: No, I’ll disagree. The President has as much right to protect himself from being railroaded as anyone else. I know you disagree, but that’s life. Unfortunately, the best way that the country has to protect everyone without power is to protect him with the same protections. If the most powerful man in the country can be compelled to testify against his interests, you and I don’t stand a chance.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Hard to argue with that.

  39. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “The fifth amendment “makes you sick”?”

    Yes, Stormy, that’s exactly what I meant. Now you can go play Galt’s Gulch in your little sandbox until juice time.

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  40. Mikey says:

    I think some of you are missing some important contextual factors.

    Yes, of course the President, even in his unique position, is protected by the Fifth Amendment (although I would love more than just about anything to see the man who said “you see the mob take the Fifth, if you’re innocent why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” invoke its protection). But that’s a bit beside the point.

    The context of which I speak is that Trump, if/when he’s interviewed, is going to lie. We all know it, his lawyers certainly know it. He lies as naturally as he breathes, and probably with less effort. So what Rudy is saying isn’t meant to invoke Trump’s right to not self-incriminate, it’s meant to inoculate Trump by sowing FUD about the process itself. Rudy and the rest of Trump’s treason enablers talk about the “perjury trap” to create the misleading impression Trump is going to be entrapped by Mueller. And “truth isn’t truth” is specifically meant to instill in the public mind what I said upthread: if there’s no truth, one can’t actually lie, can they?

    That’s what all this is about.

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  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: What all this is about is letting trump do whatever the fuck he wants free of any consequences what so ever.

  42. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    “Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening…Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.”

  43. @TM01: Please focus on the topic of a given post.

  44. Kylopod says:

    @Mikey: You summarized the situation about as well as I could imagine.

  45. Kathy says:

    As far as know, the average citizen cannot avoid being questioned by police or prosecutors. They have a right not to incriminate themselves, true, and that’s one reason it’s a good idea to have a lawyer present. But the 5th amendment right doesn’t mean one can avoid answering all questions.

    And prosecutors can issue subpoenas. Therefore, if Dennison avoids an interview with Mueller, he’ll likely have to sit his orange ass in front of a grand jury under oath.

    I’d pay to see that performance.

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  46. Kylopod says:

    @TM01: No, proving treason isn’t “the whole basis for an interview.” In the words of the sea turtle from Finding Nemo: Focus, dude!

    Your inability to address any of the rebuttals to your previous argument is duly noted.

  47. JohnMcC says:

    Seems like the crux of this dandy little brouhaha is whether someone who just happens to occupy the highest office in America has the right to lie to everybody all the time and avoid giving testimony. Well, sure he does. Fifth amendment yadadada.

    The follow up question is whether that person should be allowed to continue to hold the highest office Americans can offer.

    Hell NO!

    Now back to the trails and woods — hopefully this nightmare will be closer to resolution next time I need to wash up and resupply.

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  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mikey: While I get that, he still should get the same Constitutional protections that everyone else is entitled to.

  49. Mikey says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I’m not saying he shouldn’t. I’m saying that isn’t the actual point, because that’s not what his lawyers’ statements, and his own, are about.

  50. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Kathy:

    But the 5th amendment right doesn’t mean one can avoid answering all questions.

    Just questions that pertain to or could pertain to one’s guilt, innocence, or involvement with any act that’s being investigated.

    So…it kind of does me one can avoid answering all questions. And if the questioning is voluntary–i.e., they haven’t arrested you–then you really can avoid the questioning itself. Now if you are arrested, you can’t escape the physical act of investigators asking you questions, but you don’t have to provide a single answer.

    I was under investigation once for some really, really trumped up political charges by some Republicans who didn’t like that I was registering Latinxs to vote.

    The DA consistently asked me to come in for questioning. She even sent some nice policemen that made it sound like I really had no choice but to accompany them to a questioning. Yet, when I asked if I was under arrest they were obliged to tell me no, and I was obliged to tell them to insert the DA’s questions up their rectums.

    It’s been 9 years and I still haven’t answered a single question from that DA.

  51. dazedandconfused says:

    Rudy was BSing in another way too.

    The questions Rudy is also begging are whether or not one can be indicted for perjury in a matter of opinion or in a he-said-he said situation without solid corroborating evidence either way. In regards to his firing of Comey the answer, I believe, is no, and he can’t be charged with perjury for anything he has not sworn to in some way. Rudy has to know this.

    I don’t blame him for being terrified of Trump being sworn in. That New York real-estate-ese he speaks acquires a new definition under oath.

  52. Lounsbury says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    this rather represents the idiocy of the knee-jerk response of the Left to issues of authority.

    Of course is all society took such an attitude, the costs to society for ensuring a modicum of seucrity soar. But yes, Stick it to the Man, that’ll show them.

    Of course I can fully support ethnic/religious minorities having a cautious relationship with policing authorities. Sympathetic to that, although in the longer-run the individual response, while individually rational, is without doubt corrossive and hurtful to the broader community.

    To expand this Leftist anti-theMan reaction to the office of the Presidency (or similar executive with unbounded pardon powers) is an excercise is empty-headed idiocy.