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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


During a live TV interview on Monday, Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani called into Fox News’ “Outnumbered” in an effort to clear up statements he made earlier in the day—and ended up confusing the hosts even more.

Giuliani on Monday appeared to move the goal posts on Russian collusion, insisting that Donald Trump could not have committed a crime because he didn’t personally carry out any hacking—a far cry from claims there was “no collusion.” He also told CNN Trump never attended the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, a claim that raised questions as no reporting has placed Trump at that meeting.

Giuliani told Fox News his bizarre statements Monday morning were not a departure from his previous position, telling Harris Faulkner he’s “been saying from the very beginning” that “my client didn’t do it and even if he did it, it’s not a crime.”

“The only crime is hacking and is ridiculous to think of the president hacked,” Giuliani said. “Why do I say that? I say that to attack the legitimacy of the investigation because it has become crystal clear this investigation that began with Peter Strzok has been continued as an illegitimate investigation and someday, we may have to prove it is.”

Faulkner asked about Giuliani’s “shift” regarding the Trump Tower meeting.

“[That was] the Trump Tower meeting with the Russian officials who were here to meet with Donald Trump Jr., and others from the Trump campaign,” Faulker said. “In that meeting at Trump Tower there, it has been a question because of Michael Cohen now saying that he was willing to go on the record with Russia investigation and [special counsel] Robert Mueller to say the president knew that meeting was going to take place. What we heard you say today was the president was not at that meeting. That actually takes on a question that has not been asked or even suggested. So why did you say that?”

Giuliani replied there were “two different meetings,” before turning his attention to Cohen.

“[Cohen] has talked about this endlessly on those 183 unique recordings and he never mentions it at all,” Giuliani said. “…The reason he is saying it is it’s one of the few things he can lie about where the tapes don’t contradict, but the testimony of other people does. Second, there was another meeting that has been leaked that hasn’t been published yet. That was an alleged meeting three days before.”

“[Cohen] says it was a meeting with Donald, Jr., with Jared Kushner, with Paul Manafort, possibly others, in which they, out of the presence of the president, discussed the meeting with the Russian,” Giuliani said. “We checked with their lawyers, the ones we could check with, that meeting never took place, it didn’t happen. It’s a figment of his imagination or he’s lying. The only meeting that they find for that day that included any of these people is a meeting about the Hispanic judge that the president had criticized back around that time. So that hopefully set the record straight.”

“Let me just ask it this way,” Faulkner replied. “You now told us about two meetings, there was one that the public knows about, which when you talk about a meeting and you say the president wasn’t there, that’s the one that everybody would assume that we are on the same page about. What you’re saying now is that there was another meeting that was leaked that has not been made public and I would assume, until now, really described by you in detail … that Michael Cohen says the president knew about the head of time, but you say the president was not there.”

“I don’t know,” Giuliani replied. “All I have are two reports telling me Cohen told him there was a meeting three days before with a group of people that I said that they discussed it and that the president was not there. He didn’t say the president knew about it. I am telling you the meeting didn’t take place, never happened. He had to handle it himself. Second, there’s another leak, this one is out, and this one, he says he was in Donald Trump’s office when Donald Trump Jr. walked in and told him about a Russian meeting that was about to start. That is also not true.”

“I don’t think any of that really addresses the question of why he would say he wasn’t at the meeting,” Melissa Francis replied. “Why are you saying that the president wasn’t at the meeting? I understand those two meetings that you just set out there, but that doesn’t explain why you’re saying. Who asked if he was there? No one asked if he was there.”

“[Cohen] is alleging the meeting took place and we are making it clear that the president was not at that meeting,” Giuliani said. “… Two alleged meetings, first meeting, a group of people, not the president. That group of people says the meeting didn’t take place, who alleged it is Cohen. And secondly, president’s office, in walks Donald Trump Jr., says ‘let me meet with the Russian,’ never took place, didn’t happen.”

“It’s different to say that meeting didn’t happen,” Francis said. “To say he wasn’t there implies that it happened and he wasn’t there.”

Following the interview, the “Outnumbered” cast appeared to try and process Giuliani’s remarks.

“It still doesn’t make sense,” Francis admitted.

Watch below:

Elizabeth Preza is the Managing Editor of AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @lizacisms.


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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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