President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: WHCA picking non-comedian for headliner a ‘good first step’ Five takeaways from Mississippi’s Senate debate Watergate’s John Dean: Nixon would tell Trump ‘he’s going too far’ MORE’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told The Hill on Wednesday that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWatergate’s John Dean: Nixon would tell Trump ‘he’s going too far’ Senate Homeland Security chairman requests briefing on Ivanka Trump emails House GOP to hold hearing into DOJ’s probe of Clinton Foundation MORE should be investigated for possible obstruction of justice.
“Of course she should be investigated,” Giuliani said, asserting that “there is plenty of evidence that Hillary obstructed justice by destroying evidence in a gross and massive way.”
Giuliani was referring to approximately 30,000 emails on Clinton’s private server that were deleted before investigators could examine them during the probe of her actions while secretary of State during the Obama administration.
Clinton’s team has said that the deleted emails were personal in nature and therefore irrelevant to an investigation into alleged improper handling of classified information.
Giuliani’s comments came in the course of a 13-minute phone interview with The Hill that had initially been focused on the current state of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation. Trump on Tuesday submitted written answers to questions from Mueller about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
During the interview, the former New York City mayor segued into complaints about news stories regarding Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpTrump: WHCA picking non-comedian for headliner a ‘good first step’ Senate Homeland Security chairman requests briefing on Ivanka Trump emails Gowdy requests info on Ivanka Trump’s personal email use MORE’s use of a personal email account last year. Comparisons between the actions of the president’s daughter and those of the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee were unfair, he insisted.
“It’s so stupid!” Giuliani said. “So [Ivanka] used her personal email. The thing wrong with Hillary is not that she used her personal email. It’s that she didn’t maintain it. She destroyed it. She destroyed the emails. Somebody used a sledgehammer. Jesus!”
Giuliani’s remarks were also a defense of the president in the wake of a New York Times story published Tuesday that reported Trump had told then-White House counsel Donald McGahnDonald (Don) F. McGahnThe Hill’s 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — McCain honored at US Capitol Trump didn’t inform McGahn of hush-money payments in 2016: report MORE earlier this year that he wanted to order the Department of Justice to prosecute Clinton and James ComeyJames Brien ComeyWatergate’s John Dean: Nixon would tell Trump ‘he’s going too far’ Trump submits written answers to Mueller Trump wanted DOJ to prosecute Clinton, Comey: report MORE, the FBI director whom Trump fired in May 2017.
Such a move would be deeply controversial, and many legal observers said if it had been carried out it would have been an abuse of presidential power.
According to the Times story, McGahn pushed back against the president, saying that Trump did not have the authority to order a prosecution. He also ordered up a memo that argued that even the lesser act of requesting an investigation of political foes could prompt a serious counter-reaction, up to and including impeachment.
But Giuliani said that he could not see any problem.
“I don’t see how a president is prevented from saying someone should be investigated when there is public, probable cause that they committed a crime,” he said.
He asserted that Comey had illegally leaked information, something that Comey has long denied. But Giuliani reserved his most forceful language for Clinton.
“Someone is under investigation and all of a sudden 30,000 emails disappear and someone takes a sledgehammer to them? I’m telling you, she is going in front of a grand jury,” Giuliani said.
He appeared to be outlining a hypothetical situation if someone had acted in the same way as Clinton during Giuliani’s own tenure as a federal prosecutor, rather than suggesting a new grand jury would be impaneled in Clinton’s case.
Comey ultimately found that “no charges are appropriate” in the investigation of Clinton’s email use, though he criticized Clinton and her colleagues for having been “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
On the point of whether Ivanka Trump’s actions could be fairly compared to Clinton’s, Giuliani pushed back against the suggestion that the president’s elder daughter and senior adviser should have known about the rules governing such correspondence.
The Washington Post reported on Monday evening that Ivanka Trump had “sent hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials and her assistants using a personal account, many of them in violation of federal records rules.”
“It’s one thing to violate one rule of the 5,000 rules that exist when you are first on board, but to have preserved everything so it is all there,” Giuliani said.
But that was different, he asserted, “than to set up a whole system after you’ve been in government all your life and helped to write some of those rules.”
On the Mueller probe, Giuliani confirmed that it was now unlikely the president would sit for an in-person interview with the special counsel’s team — though he said “we are not going to close our minds 1,000 percent to it.”
Instead, he argued that Mueller’s team ought to be “satisfied” with written answers — even though he acknowledged that the president and his team had declined to address any questions of obstruction of justice.
“We weren’t going to answer any obstruction [questions],” Giuliani told The Hill. “We don’t believe we should have to, because it is all privileged communication between the president and his subordinates. It is not obstruction to fire one of your subordinates. It is not obstruction to give advice to one of your subordinates.”
This line of argument is countered by legal experts who insist a president does commit obstruction of justice if he takes such actions with “corrupt intent” — for example, an intent to thwart a legitimate investigation.
But Giuliani remained adamant.
“The president’s whole approach to this has been extraordinarily disciplined despite some of the false stories,” he said regarding the Mueller investigation as a whole.
“But he is obviously very hurt personally. And I am too. It’s very hard when you are accused of something you didn’t do, and you know you didn’t do it.”