WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's personal attorney said Sunday his client did not speak to then-FBI Director James Comey about an investigation into former aide Michael Flynn, a key point in an ongoing obstruction of justice investigation and the subject of changing stories.
"There was no conversation about Michael Flynn," Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said on CNN's "State of the Union," adding that Trump is prepared to testify to that effect.
That's contradictory to what Comey, fired by Trump last year, has said about the matter. According to Comey, the president asked him to go easy on Flynn as the foreign policy adviser was under investigation for lying over post-election contacts with a Russian ambassador.
Comey has testified before Congress and written in his book that Trump arranged a private meeting with him in early 2017. During that meeting, Trump allegedly said: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Trump's decision to fire Comey three months later is key to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into whether the president sought to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation. Mueller and prosecutors are investigating Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and whether those efforts are linked to the Trump presidential campaign.
Flynn, fired as Trump's national security adviser less than a month into his tenure in 2017, pleaded guilty to making false statements and has been cooperating with Mueller's investigation.
As he has said previously, Giuliani told CNN that he and other attorneys are concerned that prosecutors may lay a "perjury trap" for Trump, by simply taking Comey's word over that of the president.
Giuliani and other Trump officials have previously indicated that Trump did in fact speak to Comey about Flynn. They have said that the president did not ask the FBI director to go easy on Flynn, and, even if he did, it would not constitute obstruction of justice.
In a July interview with ABC News, Giuliani defended Trump's remarks about Flynn to the FBI director: "What he said was, 'Can you, can you give him a break?'" At that time, Giuliani described it as an innocuous comment, not a directive from the president.
During his CNN appearance on Sunday, Giuliani said he was reflecting Comey's account of events in making his earlier comments.
He was "talking about their alternative," Giuliani said. "I'm saying the conversation never took place."
He added: "If I confused it, I'm sorry."
Giuliani is also demanding that Mueller wrap up his investigation as it applies to Trump by Sept. 1, so as not to interfere with the congressional elections.
Comey's claims are also a factor as Trump and Mueller lawyers negotiate possible testimony from Trump.
There is a question as to whether Trump will ever testify before Mueller. Giuliani said he and the legal team have offered to provide a "proffer" to Mueller with answers to potential questions.
"In other words, we will tell them the president's answers to everything," Giuliani told CNN. "They already know them."
Giuliani's comments on CNN came as Trump himself continued to attack the Mueller investigation overall, by tweeting out criticism from his allies.
Trump, who claims that officials in President Barack Obama's Justice Department and FBI targeted him over the Russia cases, tweeted out a comment by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that it seems like those officials "had a program to keep Donald Trump from becoming President.”
"If this had happened to the other side, everybody involved would be in jail," Trump tweeted. "This is a Media coverup of the biggest story of our time."
“Seems like the Department of Justice (and FBI) had a program to keep Donald Trump from becoming President”. @DarrellIssa@foxandfriends If this had happened to the other side, everybody involved would be in jail. This is a Media coverup of the biggest story of our time.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2018
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