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Giuliani’s legal strategy for Trump marked by confusion

Rudy Giuliani, one of President Trump's personal attorneys, has been lately confronted with questions about special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, as well as a $130,000 "hush payment" from one of President Trump's long-time associates to an adult film star. Yamiche Alcindor joins Amna Nawaz to sort out what we've learned about the president’s potential upcoming legal battle.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Our lead story tonight is the ongoing legal drama that surrounds President Trump.

    In the last few days, one of President Trump's personal attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, has been doing the media rounds. Giuliani has confronted questions about special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, but also about a $130,000 hush payment from one of Mr. Trump's longtime associates to an adult film star.

    With me here is our White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor, to sort out what we have learned about what could become a legal battle on multiple fronts.

    Yamiche, let's try the break this down now.

    The Giuliani media blitz left a lot of people kind of scratching their heads, trying to figure out what's happening with this legal strategy from the White House. It's been evolving, right, as the special counsel's investigation has evolved. What do we know about that strategy now?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The strategy appears to be to be as aggressive as possible and to really be on the offensive.

    This is a strategy where you have someone like Rudy Giuliani, who is really an attack dog, going out after people, going out on different media rounds, laying out all sorts of strategies. There's not one legal strategy.

    What he's doing is saying — floating kind of ideas. He has one thing that he said, that the president might plead the Fifth if asked to justify with the special counsel investigation. He has said that the president might assert executive privilege.

    He's also said that they might negotiate. There were the questions that were leaked to The New York Times, where we saw all these different questions that the president might answer. So there's a lot of different things that Rudy Giuliani is saying, but nothing in particular that they're saying they're going to do.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    There are a lot of things he's saying. There's a lot more questions that seem to have been raised from the interviews he gave, rather than questions answered in those interviews.

    There are things like whether or not the president would comply with a subpoena, whether or not there have been other payments made. It seemed confusing at times. Could confusion have been the point?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Confusion seems to be the point.

    I'm going to read to you something to you that Rudy Giuliani said to The Washington Post. He said — quote — "Everyone is reacting to us now, and I feel good about that, because that's what I came in to do."

    So, that really gets to the heart of the legal strategy here. Rudy Giuliani is telling people, look, you're talking about me, you're saying what I want to say, you're asking me all these questions. I'm now the story.

    And, remember, a couple of weeks ago, we were talking about Michael Cohen and raids on his office, what was going to happen with Stormy Daniels. Now it's basically been Rudy Giuliani week turning into Rudy Giuliani week number two.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Well, the president has pushed back on some of Rudy Giuliani week, right? He was clarifying some of his comments, saying he's still getting up to speed, he's new to the team.

    What do we know about how this president views Mr. Giuliani?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, I have questioned several White House officials asking this question, saying, is the president really happy with what Rudy Giuliani is doing?

    Because if you listen to a lot of experts, this should not be the way that your legal expert, your lawyer is acting. But everyone tells me that the president is happy with him.

    And I'm going to play for you a little bit of what Sarah Sanders said today when she was asked about this. And she struggled to answer the question. But let's see what she said.

  • Question:

    Is the president pleased with the appearances of Rudy Giuliani over the last few days?

  • Sarah Sanders:

    I didn't speak with him specifically about his feelings about it, but certainly feels that he's an added member — added valued member to his outside special counsel.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    So, there you have it, Sarah Sanders really trying to — she is someone who really is usually on it. She has her answers prepared. She's usually reading from a piece of paper.

    In this case, you saw her kind of stumbling, trying to explain how the president feels about Rudy Giuliani.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Real quick, before we let you go, Giuliani has joined after a number of shakeups on the legal team.

    Is the kind of thing normal? Can you put this context for us with what we have seen from past presidents?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    I spoke with an expert today who studied special counsel and special investigations.

    And that person said, we should really look at President Clinton and how he handled all the different legal scandals that he had to deal with as president, with the Monica Lewinsky, but also with the sexual harassment lawsuit by Paula Jones.

    And he told — that expert told me, President Clinton made it a point to have a very solid team together. This was not a rotating cast. This is core people who understood the cases, understood what was going on.

    But he said that there was a face man there. There was a man named Robert Bennett whose job it was to talk to the media, to try to make the case for President Clinton, because they didn't want President Clinton to be obsessing about this case.

    In this case, it's not really like that. You have someone like Rudy Giuliani who is out there talking about all this. But you also have the president himself tweeting about it, kind of talking about it all the time, which is not what President Clinton was doing. So, this is think — the word gets used a lot, but it's pretty unprecedented for this president.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    A word we use a lot these days.

    Yamiche Alcindor, good to talk to you.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks.

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