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Giuliani puts off formal rebuttal to Mueller report as he defends Trump

Shannon Pettypiece, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump's legal team has decided to shelve a plan to issue a formal rebuttal to Robert Mueller's report, said Rudy Giuliani, even as the president unleashes his own attempts on Twitter to discredit the special counsel and his findings.

The president's lawyers will focus instead on knocking down specific accounts in Mueller's report as they surface in news media, Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, said Monday in an interview.

Giuliani said Mueller misrepresented the facts multiple times in his 448-page report. He declined to cite specifics, other than to say former White House counsel Don McGahn -- who gave a damaging account of Trump's efforts to influence the investigation into Russian election interference -- was "confused."

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Monday that he has issued a subpoena for McGahn to testify on May 21.

"There are numerous areas that were mischaracterized and some where it is flat-out false," Giuliani said of Mueller's report. "But I can only take one or two at a time. It is hard to digest all at once. You have to wait for certain ones to come up and then show if they are false or inaccurate."

Trump's legal team had spent months putting together a lengthy counter-report that it planned to release challenging Mueller's findings, which the team assumed would be unfavorable to Trump. But lawyer Jay Sekulow said Friday that nothing more would be coming.

Trump has mounted his own counteroffensive, tweeting about the investigation a dozen times from Sunday through Monday afternoon. His tweets picked up as he began to see the news coverage of Mueller's report on instances when the president may have obstructed justice. The conclusions brought a quick end to the euphoria in the White House after Attorney General William Barr's announcement last month that the president was in the clear.

Eventually, Giuliani said, he expects Trump's legal team will release a counter-report to "lay out facts that weren't followed up on" by Mueller. He didn't elaborate.

Giuliani's main focus in recent days has been countering the testimony of McGahn, who provided Mueller a detailed picture of the president's attempt to have the special counsel removed from the investigation. Trump allies have accused McGahn of betraying the president and questioned whether there should be some type of retaliation against him.

 

Giuliani called Mueller's report "one-sided," but Trump refused to be interviewed by Mueller to counter other testimony about whether the president sought to obstruct the investigation. Giuliani stands by that decision, saying the tone of the report suggests Mueller would have moved to charge Trump with perjury because his testimony would have contradicted what other witnesses said.

"I am convinced I had the right strategy," Giuliani said. "Thank God he didn't go into questioning."

Despite the attacks Trump has been getting by Democrats over the report's findings, Giuliani said he's glad the section on Trump's time in office wasn't heavily redacted.

"I was very much in favor of putting it all out there. I knew if it was sitting there we were going to have to deal with it," Giuliani said. "If we redacted half of it, the other half would have come out a month from now, and I would rather deal with it all at once and get it over with."

(c)2019 Bloomberg News

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