Is Rudy Giuliani helping or hurting President Trump?

Jill Abramson, the left-wing journalist, contends that Rudy Giuliani has become “a dangerous liability” for President Trump. Giuliani certainly isn’t impressing many lawyers or other close observers with the bombast and sometimes flawed or superficial analysis he employs in defense of the president. But that doesn’t necessarily make him a liability, as I argue below.

Nor does Abramson impress with statements like this one:

[Giuliani] keeps messing up. On. . .talk shows last week, Giuliani denied Trump was guilty of any collusion. The next day he was arguing that collusion was not a crime, anyway. Which is it?

It’s both, at least according to Giuliani. Hasn’t Abramson ever heard of arguing in the alternative?

There is is also this from Abramson:

I’ve talked to influential business people in New York who know both men [Giuliani and Trump] and did business with them in the 1990s, when Giuliani was New York mayor and Trump was rising as the city’s most egotistical developer. They say they no longer recognise the two men as the sharp, savvy acts they were back then.

But Trump rose from egotistical developer to egotistical U.S. president. This triumph, against considerable odds, suggests he is at least as sharp and savvy as ever. If influential business people in New York don’t recognize this, they may be the ones who aren’t sharp and savvy.

Andy McCarthy is plenty sharp and savvy. He sees Giuliani’s blustery, unlawyerly performances as part of an effective effort to drive down public support for Robert Mueller and his partisan team. Behind that effort is a recognition that Trump’s real jeopardy is political, not legal. It lies with impeachment, not criminal indictment.

McCarthy writes:

[B]e mindful that we are not dealing with a normal criminal probe. Usually, if there is a realistic chance to avoid being indicted, the subject of an investigation has great incentive to cooperate with, or at least avoid antagonizing, the prosecutor. Here, in stark contrast, the president is not going to be criminally charged. Quite apart from the lack of sufficient evidence, Justice Department policy forbids the indictment of a sitting president. To the extent the investigation bears on Trump, it has always been about impeachment, not criminal liability.

If the only things on the table are “collusion with Russia” and obstruction allegations, President Trump knows he will never be removed from office. But he would obviously like to avoid being impeached (i.e., formally accused of high crimes and misdemeanors). It takes only a simple majority vote in the House to approve articles of impeachment. If the Democrats win control in the midterms, that’s a real peril.

Given this reality, the Trump-Giuliani approach makes sense:

Because there will be no indictment, the president’s attorneys have the luxury of not fretting over things defense lawyers normally worry about — namely, avoiding statements that prosecutors can use against the client in court. Since impeachment is political, what matters is public opinion — the thing that moves Congress.

That’s what Trump and his attorneys are trying to influence. If they succeed well enough, it could help Republicans retain the House in the midterms — i.e., the prospect of an unpopular impeachment would become an electoral liability for Democrats. Even if Democrats take the House by a narrow margin, Trump’s strategy might dissuade the small number of Democrats he would need from jumping aboard an impeachment bandwagon.

Accordingly:

Rudy is not worried that the prosecutor may indict the president — ain’t gonna happen. He is trained on doing to Mueller what Clinton’s allies did to Starr. This is politics, and he’s acting like a modern, media-manipulating politician.

There is evidence that Giuliani’s approach is working. Robert Mueller’s probe is now viewed unfavorably by 45 percent of Americans, according to a recent Washington Post/George Mason University poll. At the beginning of the year, only 31 percent viewed it unfavorably.

McCarthy doesn’t condone the Trump-Giuliani approach. He calls it “winning ugly.”

Agreed. But Trump’s opponents are also trying to win ugly. They are determined to destroy this president — to find something he said or did that they can use to accomplish what they failed to achieve at the ballot box.

Under these circumstances, I don’t condemn Trump and his team for fighting back as they have.

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