Update: And now Trump suggesting Giuliani got his Cohen story wrong, too. "Rudy is a great guy, but he just started a day ago," Trump said. "He’s working hard, learning the subject matter." Trump added: "He’ll get his facts straight. ... It’s actually very simple. There has been a lot of misinformation, really.”
I disagree with the prevailing wisdom that Rudy Giuliani committed one giant blunder Wednesday night. When Giuliani disclosed that President Trump had reimbursed Michael Cohen for the Stormy Daniels payment, it contradicted what had been said before, yes. But legally speaking, it made some sense, especially regarding claiming attorney-client privilege and getting ahead of what might come out of the Cohen case. Time will tell.
But other parts of the Giuliani interview were clearly blunders which Giuliani is now cleaning up. And if Trump is about to dispatch Giuliani regularly to speak for him, buckle up. Because Giuliani is a uniquely Trumpian blend of confidence and lack of discipline.
In an interview with BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner on Thursday, Giuliani sought to walk back two of his more curious claims from Wednesday: That Trump fired James B. Comey because Comey refused to say Trump's wasn't under investigation, and that Trump had secured the releases of three hostages from North Korea.
Neither, Giuliani now says, was actually based upon his own knowledge of how things went down. He was just passing along things he had heard or suspected, without taking care to verify them.
The apparent Comey admission might have been the most legally problematic that Giuliani made. Much like Trump's Lester Holt interview, it suggested Trump had fired Comey to influence the course of the Russia investigation. “He fired Comey because Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn't a target of the investigation,” Giuliani said. “He's entitled to that.”
Now Giuliani says that's not necessarily the case. “I think it was based more on my knowledge of what was going on during the campaign. I urged him to fire Comey on Day One. I mean, maybe I was thinking more of why I would fire him.”
But the North Korea comments, in a way, might have been more egregious. Here was the president's personal lawyer announcing the return of hostages before they even came back. That was bad for reasons outlined here by The Post's David Nakamura. The White House wouldn't confirm it and said Giuliani didn't have authorization to announce such things.
Giuliani's explanation for that one? He read a thing. He said it was based upon “newspaper accounts,” which it turns out was a Financial Times report based upon anonymous sources. The Drudge Report and others played that up as a big win for Trump. The hostage return still hasn't happened, despite Giuliani saying it would happen Thursday.
Giuliani added: “I wasn’t made secretary of state, so I’m not conducting foreign policy. We made that comment in the context of, ‘Will you stop interfering with this guy? He’s got other things to do.'”
Except now that Giuliani is speaking to and for the president, and his words carry more weight. As Nakamura noted, these are exactly the kinds of things you're not supposed to speak loosely about.
The release may still happen -- Trump himself suggestively tweeted that people should "stay tuned!" and CNN has a source saying it's "imminent" -- but at the very least Giuliani disclosed something that wasn't ready for public consumption. And now he says it was based upon something that the Trump administration hasn't verified.
This wasn't totally out of character for Giuliani. Once known as “America's mayor,” he has more recently reinvented himself as a feisty and often unwieldy surrogate for Trump — a guy who sometimes seems a bit too comfortable and pleased with himself on the set of Fox News.
Toward the end of the 2016 election, Giuliani proudly and coyly previewed what wound up being Comey's announcement that there were more Clinton emails, which he said he had heard about somehow. This, according to Comey, sprung an FBI investigation.
Giuliani also apologized during the 2016 campaign for saying Hillary Clinton was nowhere to be seen after 9/11, and at another point seemed to forget about 9/11 while playing up how safe George W. Bush kept the country.
Now that he officially works for Trump, it seems we could be seeing a lot more of Giuliani. Whether Trump knows it or not, that may not be a good thing for him.