If President Trump opts to sit for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller he will testify he never told former FBI Director James B. Comey to ease up on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani said Sunday.
Mr. Comey, who was fired by Mr. Trump last year, has testified the president urged him in private to drop a probe into Mr. Flynn. He also detailed the conversation in a memo he wrote after meeting with the president.
The episode is thought to be a major part of Mr. Mueller’s look at whether the president obstructed justice.
Now, Mr. Giuliani says the conversation didn’t happen.
“There was no conversation about Michael Flynn,” Mr. Giuliani, a former prosecutor and New York City mayor, told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“The president didn’t find out that Comey believed there was until about, I think, it was February when it supposedly took place. Memo came out in May, and in between, Comey testified under oath, in no way had he been obstructed at any time,” he said. “Then all of the sudden in May he says he felt obstructed. He felt pressured by that comment, ‘You should go easy on Flynn,’ so we maintain the president didn’t say that.”
CNN host Jake Tapper said Mr. Giuliani appeared to offer a different version in a July interview with ABC’s “This Week,” when he said that Mr. Trump asking Mr. Comey to give Mr. Flynn a break would be excusable.
Mr. Giuliani said he was speaking in the context of Mr. Comey’s version of events, and he’s worried that Mr. Mueller will dismiss Mr. Trump’s claim the conversation never took place.
“They can say it’s perjury if they elect to believe Comey instead of Trump,” Mr. Giuliani said.
Mr. Flynn was ousted in February for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about phones calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Mr. Kislyak and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel’s team.
In December, Mr. Trump claimed the lies to the FBI also figured into Mr. Flynn’s firing.
Mr. Giuliani said Mr. Mueller should release his findings on obstruction of justice by Sept. 1, to avoid interference with the mid-term elections in early November.
“The most important thing is that we shouldn’t be carrying on this investigation any longer than we have to,” he told CNN. “It can get done by early September. They have all the information they need to write a report and either clear the president, raise questions, do whatever they want to do.”
Mr. Giuliani said he doesn’t agree with scholars who’ve suggested a president cannot obstruct justice, period.
The calculus here, he said, is whether Mr. Trump was properly exercising his power as president.
He argued Mr. Trump had “perfectly legitimate” reasons to oust Mr. Comey and knew someone would replace him, potentially resulting in an even longer investigation.
“He knows that somebody is going to replace Comey,” Mr. Giuliani said. “And somebody did a few days later.”