Mr. Orwell, your table is ready
What's next from Rudy Giuliani? That his client, President Donald Trump, has nothing to fear but facts themselves?
On NBC's "Meet the Press," Giuliani was arguing why Trump could be stepping into a perjury trap if he agrees to be questioned by special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation. It's "silly," said Giuliani, to contend "he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry," because others might tell different stories.
When host Chuck Todd said "Truth is truth," Giuliani shot back: "No, it isn't truth. Truth isn't truth." (Click here for video.)
The comment was in sync with Giuliani's comment in a CNN interview last week that "nowadays," facts are in "the eye of the beholder."
Except when it's crystal clear that they are not. Such as when Giuliani said on the show that the participants in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting under Mueller's scrutiny had no idea ahead of time that the "woman with a Russian name" who was coming, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had connections to the Kremlin.
False. The emails to Donald Trump Jr. setting up the meeting described her as a "Russian government attorney" offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."
Getting the material on Clinton was "the original intention of the meeting," Giuliani said. Which further affirms that the original story put out last year that it was about Russian adoptions was false. So Trump's truth of 2017 isn't truth. Not at all.
My counsel is no 'rat'
Trump angrily denounced a report in The New York Times that White House counsel Don McGahn cooperated extensively with Mueller over 30 hours of interviews, providing investigators looking into potential obstruction of justice by the president with details they wouldn't have otherwise known.
McGahn has described Trump's comments and actions in the firing of FBI Director James Comey, his desire to have a loyalist in charge of the inquiry and his attempts to fire Mueller. Part of McGahn's reason for speaking expansively was fear that Trump was setting him up as a fall guy for any acts of obstruction, the report said.
Trump tweeted that the Times' "fake piece" was wrongly implying that McGahn was "a John Dean type 'RAT.' " Dean was the White House counsel who blew the whistle on Richard Nixon's central role in the Watergate cover-up, leading to that president's resignation and prison sentences for several top Nixon aides. See Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
McGahn said what?
Trump's personal lawyers now realize, to their discomfort, that they don't know how much McGahn told Mueller's team, the Times said in a follow-up story. McGahn's lawyer gave them a short summary, but few details, according to the report.
Giuliani said Sunday he was told by one of his predecessors on Trump's personal legal team, John Dowd, "that McGahn was a strong witness for the president, so I don’t need to know much more about that."
Report: Cohen could be charged soon
Federal investigators looking into potential bank and tax fraud by Trump's ex-fixer Michael Cohen are focused on more than $20 million in loans obtained by his family's taxi businesses, The New York Times said.
Also under scrutiny is whether Cohen violated campaign finance or other laws by arranging hush money for women who said they had affairs with Trump. The inquiry is nearing completion and prosecutors are considering filing charges by the end of this month, the report said.
Cohen has sent signals he might try to cut a deal by cooperating in investigations of Trump. A Cohen lawyer, Lanny Davis, told Politico he has been consulting with John Dean because "I saw some parallels" to the experience of the key Watergate witness.
“I certainly don’t want to raise expectations that Mr. Cohen has anything like the level of deep involvement and detailed knowledge that John Dean had in the Nixon White House as a witness to Nixon’s crimes, but I did see some similarities," Davis said.
Janison: Blame's his game
When things go wrong, never expect Trump to take responsibility. The latest example is the cancellation of the grandiose military parade that Trump wanted to stage in Washington in November after the estimated cost of fulfilling the president's vision ballooned from $12 million to $92 million.
The onus is on "the local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly)," Trump tweeted. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the city indeed said it would need $21.6 million in reimbursement for security, traffic, maintenance, cleanup and other costs. "It appears that he didn’t want to take on his own agencies or the Pentagon, so he decided that we were a good target,” she said.
Blaming others is standard Trump procedure when covering a retreat, as when he was forced to backtrack on separating migrant children from parents who crossed the border illegally and said it was Democrats' fault. See Dan Janison's column for Newsday.
Michael Hayden, who served as director of the CIA and National Security Agency for three presidents, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that the relationship between Trump and much of the intelligence community “is dangerously close to being permanently broken. It is badly injured right now.”
Hayden was one of several former senior national security officials on the Sunday talk shows who denounced Trump's decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan and to consider similar steps against nine others.
“It immediately brings back the whole concept of the enemies list under President Nixon, and even before that, in the early '50s, the McCarthy era, where the administration starts putting together lists of individuals that don’t agree with him," said retired Adm. Mike Mullen, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, on “Fox News Sunday." Brennan, on NBC's "Meet the Press," said he might go to court to fight Trump's order.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, while opposed to Trump's move, suggested Brennan's rhetoric against Trump had gotten overheated and become “an issue in and of itself.” Brennan "is subtle like a freight train and he’s gonna say what’s on his mind," Clapper said. See Newsday's story by Scott Eidler and Figueroa.
Social media bias?
Trump complained in a weekend tweet that social media companies are "totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices" that speak up for him and "we won’t let that happen." He said he opposes "censorship," adding "there is nothing so Fake as CNN & MSNBC, & yet I do not ask that their sick behavior be removed."
Perhaps Trump forgot suggesting last October that NBC lose its broadcast licenses for "fake news."
Trump did not get specific about examples of social-media discrimination or what he planned to do about it. Alex Jones — a pro-Trump, far-right radio host who has pushed conspiracy theories, including that the Sandy Hook massacre of school children was a hoax — has recently been evicted from or suspended from several platforms. See Tom Brune's story for Newsday.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), a Trump ally, is among the latest to complain that Twitter is censoring conservative voices. He tweeted a screenshot of a posting from Fox commentator Laura Ingraham in his feed that was labeled "potentially sensitive content" and obscured. As other Twitter users pointed out, that was because of his own account settings.
What else is happening:
- A Trump tweet Sunday compared the Mueller probe to McCarthyism — "We are now in a period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!" That was low-hanging fruit on the irony tree: McCarthy's top henchman was Roy Cohn, who later became a lawyer, mentor, enforcer and role model for Trump as he grew his real estate business.
- While Giuliani calls it a "truth isn't truth" issue, others keeping score follow more conventional definitions. The New York Times said it has found more than 250 examples of exaggerated, misleading or flat-out false claims by Trump about the Russia investigation.
- Darren Beattie, a speechwriter for Trump who CNN found had attended a conference frequented by white nationalists such as Richard Spencer, has been fired, The Washington Post reported.
- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, still on a counteroffensive to recover from his America "was never that great" gaffe, accused Trump during a Brooklyn church speech of being "un-American" and promoting "sexism, racism, bigotry and intolerance," Newsday's Figueroa reports.
- National Security Adviser John Bolton said it's not just Russia that is trying to meddle in the midterm elections. Efforts by China, Iran and North Korea are also raising a "a sufficient national security concern," he said on ABC's "This Week."