New lawyer Donald trump Rudi Giuliani would not rule out on Sunday the possibility that the President will defend his right to the fifth amendment against self-incrimination in the Russian investigation.
“How could I ever be confident of that?” the former New York City mayor and US attorney said, during a freewheeling interview on ABC’s This Week.
Trump has expressed openness to an interview with the special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian election interference and alleged links between Trump aides and Moscow. Giuliani said he would strongly advise Trump against it.
“I’m going to walk him into a prosecution for perjury like Martha Stewart?” he said. The lifestyle entrepreneur was convicted in 2004 of lying to investigators and obstruction in an insider trading case.
Giuliani suggested Trump would not necessarily comply with any subpoena from Mueller, but nor would he rule out the possibility of an interview. “He’s the president of the United States,” Giuliani said. “We can assert the same privileges other presidents have.”
At a 2016 campaign rally, Trump disparaged staffers of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for taking the fifth during a congressional investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.
“The mob takes the fifth amendment,” Trump said. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the fifth amendment?”
A subpoena fight with Mueller would probably find its way to the supreme court, which has never firmly decided whether presidents can be compelled to speak under oath. During Watergate, the court ruled that a president could be compelled to comply with a subpoena for tapes and documents.
Bill Clinton sat voluntarily with the independent prosecutor Ken Starr after being issued a subpoena to discuss his relationship with the former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, avoiding the constitutional question.
Giuliani also said the leak of a list of questions Mueller may want to ask Trump “helped” the president. The list, reported by the New York Times, was drawn up by another Trump lawyer, Jay Sekulow, after a meeting with Mueller’s team.
“I don’t think Bob Mueller leaks,” Giuliani said after saying “first they leak the questions” and being corrected about the source of the document.
“Let’s be clear about that,” he said. “I don’t think … his top guys leak or women, I think people below leak and a lot of people saw these different documents.
“Could it have been somebody formerly on our side? Could it have been somebody formerly on theirs? I don’t know. Main fact is I don’t care. My client’s prejudiced by that, but in a way we were helped by it. So I guess that’s why they suspect us. But we were helped inadvertently. We’re helped because it shows he has no case.”
Giuliani’s latest interview came after days of conflicting statements about the investigations into the president. The former New York City mayor, who was hired by Trump last month, said he was still learning the facts of the Mueller case and Trump’s knowledge of a $130,000 hush payment to the adult-film actor Stormy Daniels.
Daniels has alleged a sexual tryst with Trump in 2006, which Trump denies. She was paid by Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, days before the 2016 election.