Donald Trump’s attorney and walking accident Rudy Giuliani has been busying himself as of late seemingly attempting to do as much damage to the president’s legal prospects as possible. Whether it’s claiming that Trump knew perfectly well about the alleged hush money paid out to adult film star Stormy Daniels or saying he fired FBI James Comey to shut him up about that whole Russia thing, Giuliani’s been screwing up on a level that the likes of the Mooch could only dream of.
Anyhow, on Friday night Giuliani bungled another thing for the president by seemingly admitting that Trump personally interfered to stop the merger between telecom behemoth AT&T and multimedia giant Time Warner. Officially, the Department of Justice is suing to stop the deal over antitrust concerns, but unofficially, rumors have been flying for months that the DOJ is only trying to scuttle it because Trump despises Time Warner subsidiary CNN.
Giuliani said Cohen’s business relationships did not contradict Trump’s campaign promises to end “pay-to-play” schemes and to “drain the swamp” because Cohen did not get for his newfound clients what they wanted.
“Whatever lobbying was done didn’t reach the president,” Giuliani said, offering as proof the fact that AT&T’s proposed merger with Time-Warner has not gone through. “He did drain the swamp ... The president denied the merger. They didn’t get the result they wanted.”
That “the president,” rather than the DOJ, directed an end to the merger would be a big deal, as it would support the companies’ legal assertions that the sudden intervention smells fishy as hell. The current DOJ antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, had previously commented he didn’t view the merger as a problem—and while denying the merger is almost certainly good for consumers, it’s a suspicious move for an administration with a laissez-faire attitude towards corporate matters.
In other words, this is another minefield that Giuliani wandered into apropos of nothing. The comment appears to have put the president himself on the defensive, inspiring a tweet lamenting the “disgrace in reporting” what his terrible lawyer actually said:
By Saturday, Giuliani was walking the remarks back, telling CNN “He told me directly he didn’t interfere.”
US District Judge Richard Leon has said he’ll have a ruling on the antitrust trial by mid-June, which seems like more than enough time for him to take this incident into account. The DOJ does project that consumers would pay for the successful hybridization of the two companies into one massive mega-corporation in the form of $571 million in additional fees by 2021, so there’s probably an argument to be made for Giuliani being able to get away with portraying this as just a little misstatement.