President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Sunday claimed “truth isn’t truth” when trying to explain why the president should not testify for special counsel Robert Mueller for fear of being trapped into a lie that could lead to a perjury charge.
“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,” Giuliani told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning “Truth is truth,” Todd responded.
“No, no, it isn’t truth,” Giuliani said. “Truth isn’t truth. The President of the United States says, “I didn’t …”
A startled Todd answered: “Truth isn’t truth?”
Giuliani: “No, no, no.”
Todd said: “This is going to become a bad meme.“
Giuliani‘s remark was not the first time he has gone down this road.
Last week on CNN, he rejected Chris Cuomo’s assertion that “facts are not in the eye of the beholder."
"Yes, they are," Giuliani said. "Nowadays they are."
In May, the former New York mayor pursued a similar line of thought in an interview with The Washington Post about the Mueller investigation: “They may have a different version of the truth than we do.”
The statement also recalled Kellyanne Conway’s statement in January 2017 referring to “alternative facts” offered by the White House about crowd sizes at Trump’s inauguration.
Trump’s legal team, led by Giuliani, earlier this month replied to special counsel Mueller’s proposal for terms of a possible presidential interview, but wouldn’t disclose the details of the counteroffer.
Mueller is investigating whether the Russian government colluded with Trump’s 2016 campaign, as well as related issues including possible obstruction of justice by the president.
The president has said he is willing to speak with the special counsel, though that has yet to come about.
Giuliani and others have expressed concerns that Mueller might use a statement by Trump to indict him for perjury based on differences in what the president might say from what others have testified. “They have two pieces of evidence,” Giuliani said to Todd in explaining that idea. “Trump says I didn’t tell them and the other guy says that he did say it. Which is the truth? Maybe you know because you’re a genius.”
Giuliani also accused Mueller of leaking that White House counsel Don McGahn cooperated with the special counsel.
The New York Times reported Saturday that McGahn spent 30 hours over a three-day period answering questions as part of Mueller’s investigation.
Trump tweeted Saturday evening that he allowed McGahn and “all other requested members of the White House staff, to fully cooperate with the special counsel.”
Giuliani told Todd that the special counsel was the only one who could have “leaked” the story.
“I believe this is a desperate special counsel who leaked this to The New York Times, illegally I might add,” he said.
When pressed how he knew it was Mueller, Giuliani said those involved on Trump's side would have never done it.
“I didn’t leak to the Times and Jay Sekulow didn’t leak it to the Times. The president sure as heck didn’t. So who could it be?” Giuliani said. “It could be McGahn. McGahn’s not doing it, and he would have done it a long time ago if he was gonna do it.”
Giuliani, who has previously called on the investigation to end in September, said he doesn’t believe the White House has any evidence on the president.
“They’re down to desperation time,” he said. “They have to write a report and they don’t have a single bit of evidence.”
Giuliani‘s observation about truth was widely mocked on Twitter. A number of those tweets focused on George Orwell’s book “1984“ — a novel about a totalitarian state where “war is peace," "freedom is slavery“ and “ignorance is strength.” Those phrases reflect “doublethink,” a concept whereby the enslaved citizenry is kept in check.
"'Truth isn't truth.'--@RudyGiuliani to @chucktodd. It's why, since 2016, the book of the year, every year, has been and will be George Orwell's '1984,'” tweeted Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist and author.
Presidential historian Michael Beschloss, after tweeting out Giuliani’s “truth isn’t truth” and Orwell’s trio of slogans, followed with this tweet: “Two early TV game shows — 'To Tell the Truth' and 'I’ve Got a Secret.'”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted about another bit of history.
“The statement by Rudy Giuliani that ‘truth isn't truth‘ is another step towards authoritarianism. It also reminds us of Nixon's defense that ‘when the president does it, that means it is not illegal,’” referencing Richard M. Nixon’s post-presidential assertion to TV host David Frost.
Perhaps the simplest response, though, came from a dictionary. In response to Giuliani‘s remarks Sunday, Merriam-Webster tweeted a link to the definition of the word "truth."