One of the more striking parts of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s media campaign to defend President Trump from 17 known investigations is his reliance on an obscure legal technique he says the media doesn’t understand.
“I think it’s a hard — bit of a hard case for [the media] to handle because many of these things are very kind of lawyer-like arguments,” Giuliani said on Fox News in August. “They never understand when you’re arguing in the alternative, where you say, ‘You know, even though it didn’t occur, it would be perfectly legal.’ And it didn’t.”
Indeed, Giuliani has relied on arguing in the alternative to dismiss many of the major revelations over the past year, which you can see in the video above.
Did Trump direct hush-money payments in violation of campaign finance law?
“Whether it happened or it didn’t happen, it’s not illegal.”
Did Trump collude with Russia to impact the election?
“[There’s] nothing illegal about that. … They never used it, they rejected it. If there was collusion with the Russians, they would’ve used it.”
Did Roger Stone tip off Trump about the WikiLeaks hack?
“No, I don’t believe so. But again, if Roger Stone gave anybody a heads-up about WikiLeaks’s leaks, that’s not a crime.”
But for a president who repeatedly said he had “nothing to do with Russia” (until of course, he did), it is odd Giuliani would lean so much on an argumentative technique that didn’t fully close the door on the possibility of Trump-Russia coordination. As The Fix’s Aaron Blake notes:
It is entirely possible Giuliani just does not want to say things that pin down Trump’s legal team — and risk getting contradicted or learning Trump himself misstated facts to his lawyers. But Giuliani’s past statements ... suggest he does not seem hugely versed in the things he is talking about — and certainly not to the level of detail you’d expect from legal counsel.
On Sunday, Giuliani was asked about what could be the most significant campaign finance violation in U.S. history, and again, Giuliani found himself arguing in the alternative.
“The president didn’t know about this until some time into it, he did find out about it and eventually reimbursed [his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen],” Giuliani told Fox News’s Chris Wallace. “But, Chris, even if it were true, it’s not a crime.”