Rudy Giuliani's Sunday show appearance was a total disaster

CNN/ Newswire | 8/20/2018, 12:29 p.m.
The goal of politicians appearing on Sunday shows is simple: Set the agenda for the week ahead.
Rudy Giuliani

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) -- The goal of politicians appearing on Sunday shows is simple: Set the agenda for the week ahead.

Rudy Giuliani achieved that -- and then some -- in an appearance on "Meet the Press" on Sunday. But the agenda he set was an absolute disaster for the Trump White House. Watching it was the equivalent of watching someone slip on a banana peel on the street -- it's hilarious and sad all at once. You feel bad for laughing but you find yourself laughing anyway. (And then you realize you may just be crying).

Let's start with Giuliani's seeming attempt to rebut the idea of truth. Here's the back and forth with "MTP" host Chuck Todd -- begun when Todd asks Giuliani why President Donald Trump couldn't simply sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller and tell the full truth:

GIULIANI: And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he's going to tell the truth and he shouldn't worry, well that's so silly because it's somebody's version of the truth. Not the truth. He didn't have a, a conversation --

CHUCK TODD: Truth is truth. I don't mean to go like --

RUDY GIULIANI: No, it isn't truth. Truth isn't truth. The President of the United States says, "I didn't -- "

What Giuliani is, I think, trying to say is that not everything that Mueller might ask about is a fact. The example he cites is how former FBI Director James Comey has said that Trump asked him to leave off the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn while Trump has insisted no such conversation took place.

"Donald Trump says, 'I didn't talk about Flynn with Comey,'" Giuliani noted. "Comey says, 'You did talk about it,' so tell me what the truth is."

OK, a few things here.

First, the idea that the fact that Trump would describe a meeting with Comey differently than Comey has isn't perjury -- as Giuliani would like you to believe. It's a "he said, he said" -- which happens all the time in a court of law. So the idea that Trump can't talk to Mueller because it's possible he had a differing understanding of what he told Comey is a red herring.

Second, not all "he said, she said" situations are created equal. Comey testified under oath -- in written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee -- that "[Trump] asked what we could do to 'lift the cloud.'" Trump saying -- or tweeting -- that he never mentioned the idea of going easy on Flynn is entirely different. He's not under oath. He can say almost whatever he wants. And Giuliani's assertion that Trump would tell Mueller exactly what he has said publicly is, again, sort of a misdirection. Saying what you would tell the special counsel is not the same thing as actually sitting down with the special counsel.