By now, we all likely have heard about Rudy Giuliani’s absurd “truth isn’t truth” argument on this Sunday’s Meet the Press:
RUDY GIULIANI: . . . . And when you tell me that, you know, [Trump] 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 –”
CHUCK TODD: Truth isn’t truth? Mr. Mayor, do you realize, what, I, I, I —* * * *
RUDY GIULIANI: Donald Trump says I didn’t talk about Flynn with Comey. Comey says you did talk about it. So tell me what the truth is?
This argument has been rightly and widely ridiculed. But it is important to look at little more deeply at Giuliani’s ridiculous, bad faith argument. Mr. Giuliani’s MTP answer is condensed below to eliminate interjections:
RUDY GIULIANI: Donald Trump says I didn’t talk about Flynn with Comey. Comey says you did talk about it. So tell me what the truth is. . . . They have two pieces of evidence: 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. . . . No, we have, we have, no, no, no, let me finish. We have a credibility gap between the two of them. You’ve got to select one or the other. Now, who do you think Mueller’s going to select? One of his best friends, Comey, or the president who he has been carrying on a completely wild, crazy–
While Chuck Todd did a good job of rolling his eyes and gesticulating with his arms, the simple and correct answer was ignored. What Chuck Todd should have said is:
No. We have one witness, James Comey, who was willing to provide sworn testimony, under oath. Then we have President Trump who has never answered this question under oath and is refusing to provide sworn testimony.
There is no equivalence. There is no competing evidence. And who should we believe: Comey, who was willing to testify under oath as to these events, or the President who is refusing to testify under oath?
This ain’t rocket science. You see, Trump is trying effectively to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination AND argue that he also has given the equivalent of sworn, equal and competing testimony. But Trump has not done that — nor is that fact remotely complicated. If a trial were held today, there would be only one piece of evidence, Mr. Comey’s sworn testimony as to events — and nothing, not even a generic denial, from Mr. Trump.
But there is one other important thing that we know too. Trump has said openly that it is no problem if he lies to the press because lies to the press are not like sworn testimony to a court:
President Donald Trump said on Friday that it doesn’t matter if he misled the media about his son’s infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian nationals.The president’s lawyers admitted nearly two weeks ago that he dictated a statement that Donald Trump Jr. released about the meeting. When pressed by reporters Friday morning, Trump said, “It’s irrelevant. It’s a statement to The New York Times. The phony, failing New York Times.”
. . . . “That’s not a statement to a high tribunal of judges,” Trump continued Friday, as he spoke to reporters on the White House lawn. “That’s a statement to the phony New York Times. In fact, frankly, you shouldn’t even speak to The New York Times because they only write phony stories, anyway.”
So, Trump — and presumably his mouth-pieces like Mr. Giuliani — have gone on record saying that it is perfectly acceptable for them to lie to the press because that is outside of a courtroom And Trump and his colluders grudgingly admit that Trump will not provide sworn testimony in a courtroom (or to the grand jury). Rather, Trump team argues, his unsworn lies to the press should be treated as sworn testimony to a court (which he will not give).
Rebutting this nonsense should be basic and simple. We have moved beyond farce now.