Giuliani Totally Willing To Testify As Long As Jan. 6 Committee Promises Not To Ask Him Any Questions
Two weeks ago, The Guardian broke the news that Rudy Giuliani was in talks to whip out his chram for the House January 6 Select Committee. Journalist Hugo Lowell reported that the president's pro bono lawyer was willing to discuss his contacts with Congress and anything that wasn't actually privileged, including his discussions with members of Congress about contesting the electoral vote, but only under the right circumstances, since Bennie Thompson isn't an actress impersonating an Eastern European teenager alone with Rudy in a hotel room.
At the time, we expressed some skepticism that this coffee klatch would ever come off.
"Perhaps we should take any report of what Rudy Giuliani will do in the future with several large grains of salt, since he seems to be in only sporadic communication with objective reality," we said, noting that the weirdo's Twitter feed was full of insane babble derived from facts as methane is derived from cows, and with similar foul odor.
And, hey, wouldn't ya know it, right on time Rudy's lawyer Robert Costello has come up with a reason to blow off his date with Reps. Adam Schiff, Liz Cheney, and Jamie Raskin.
"I am going to have to have a conversation with these people about his attorney-client privilege, work product privilege and executive privilege," Costello told CNN. "We were operating under the idea that they would respect the invocation of those privileges, but they clearly haven't respected the invocation of attorney-client privilege for Eastman. And so, if they didn't do it with him, why would they do it with respect to Rudy Giuliani?"
Costello is referring to John Eastman, Trump's coup memo election lawyer who used his work email to plot the overthrow of the government and is now getting his ass beat all over the federal docket in California in a comically doomed effort to keep his former employer, Chapman University, from turning his emails over to the committee.
Last week, the committee argued that Eastman's claims of attorney-client privilege are overridden by the crime-fraud exception, since Trump and Eastman were plotting to obstruct official congressional action. And now Costello argues that the committee "has some explaining to do," implying that Chair Thompson will have to pinky promise not to go after any emails if he wants an interview with America's Mayor. Leave aside for the moment that anything that gets turned over in Eastman's case has been deemed not privileged by the court itself.
You don't have to be Clarence Darrow to spot the slippage here, because the act of negotiating what is privileged and thus falls outside the legitimate scope of inquiry implicitly concedes that there is a set of data which is not privileged. And if it's not privileged, then there's no legitimate reason to withhold it.
No, "I am punishing you because you wouldn't promise not to ask questions I don't like" is not a legally cognizable reason to defy a congressional subpoena. If the committee asks him something he doesn't want to answer, Rudy is perfectly capable of asserting privilege and/or pleading the Fifth. He doesn't get to refuse to show up in advance.
You can't withhold non-privileged information as a bargaining chip — or, you can, but you don't come out and tell CNN that's what you're doing. Naturally, Rudy's lawyer is as chill as his client, so he did exactly that.
It would seem impossible to top Mark Meadows's triple axel belly flop, wherein he turned over a mountain of incriminating documents before stomping off and refusing to testify, earning himself a criminal referral to the DOJ. But don't count out Rudy and Robby just yet!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.