- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 27, 2018

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, the public face of President Trump’s legal team, said Sunday that Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian ties to the president’s 2016 campaign is “rigged” and that he no longer sees it as legitimate.

“Not any more, I don’t,” Mr. Giuliani said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I did when I came in.”

He cited recent accusations that the FBI may have planted a secret informant in Mr. Trump’s campaign, as well as recent comments from Judge T.S. Ellis III expressing skepticism about what the financial dealings of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has to do with coordination with the Kremlin.

He also said that while Mr. Trump does still want an interview with Mr. Mueller, such an event is increasingly looking like a mere perjury trap.

“He is adamant in wanting to do it, but we’re more convinced as we see it that this is a rigged investigation,” Mr. Giuliani said.

FBI and Justice Department officials briefed members of Congress last week about Stefan Halper, who reportedly set up meetings with members of Mr. Trump’s campaign in 2016 while appearing to be working as an informant for the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Mr. Giuliani said they want to see more documents tied to the case before Mr. Trump’s lawyers agree to allow the president to be interviewed by Mr. Mueller.

“The reality is, we are not going to sit him down if this is a trap for perjury,” Mr. Giuliani said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If they don’t show us these documents, well, we are just going to have to say ‘no.’ “

“Let me emphasize, he wants to explain that he did nothing wrong,” he added. “It’s us, the lawyers, who have to convince him that this is a trap.”

Mr. Giuliani also waved aside talk that Mr. Trump would seek to fire Mr. Mueller, saying that would be playing the victim.

“Our first thing is we sure as heck are not going to testify unless it’s all straightened out, unless we learned the basis of that Russian investigation,” he said.

Rep. Mark Meadows, a key Trump ally in Congress, said that semantics over “spy” versus “informant” aside, there’s no question that there was someone collecting information during the 2016 campaign.

“You have to ask the question: when did it start?” said Mr. Meadows, North Carolina Republican, on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “We do know those confidential human sources were engaging prior to the official FBI investigation, so the question [is], at whose direction? What were they collecting and who were they reporting to? Because that was happening before the FBI actually opened an investigation.”

But Sen. Marco Rubio said on “Face the Nation” he hasn’t seen evidence that there was an embedded spy in the Trump campaign.

“I haven’t seen any yet but maybe there is, and if it’s there, we’ll find it and we want to know about it,” said Mr. Rubio, Florida Republican.

“It is the FBI’s job to investigate counterintelligence and that there are people out there with a known history of potential links to a foreign power and they are operating in the orbit of any political campaign or any political office,” he said. “It is the FBI’s job to look at them and find out what they’re up to, and so far, that appears to be what happened.”

Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, issued a joint statement after last week’s briefings saying that nothing changed their view that there isn’t evidence to support Republicans’ accusations that the FBI or any U.S. intelligence agency placed a “spy” in the Trump campaign.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday there is “no evidence” to support the theory that the FBI planted a “spy” in Mr. Trump’s campaign.

“This is part of the propaganda machine: Let’s spread a completely fallacious story, and then let’s say that it needs to be investigated and give it a life of its own,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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