With five simple words, “the president denied the merger,” President Trump’s new lawyer Rudy Giuliani contradicted months of statements by the White House and the Justice Department.
The subject was AT&T’s $85 billion bid for Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.
Giuliani is now back-tracking. “He told me directly he didn’t interfere,” Giuliani told CNN’s Dana Bash on Saturday morning.
But the back-and-forth has done two things: It has reignited a simmering controversy over possible political interference. And it has people talking again about Giuliani’s habit of making things more complicated for his client.
That’s why it was so surprising when HuffPost quoted Giuliani saying “the president denied the merger.”
When the government sued to block the AT&T ()deal last fall, officials denied that Trump had any hand in the decision.
On Saturday morning, the White House said Giuliani got it wrong.
“The Department of Justice denied the deal,” press secretary Sarah Sanders told CNN Saturday morning, reiterating the administration’s past position.
What Giuliani said
In the HuffPost interview, Giuliani was seemingly trying to defend the president against any suggestion that Michael Cohen improperly influenced the administration after the revelation that Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, was paid large sums of money by AT&T and several other corporate clients.
“Whatever lobbying was done didn’t reach the president,” Giuliani said, repeating a claim he made to CNN’s Dana Bash on Thursday.
But he went further with HuffPost on Friday, saying “he did drain the swamp… The president denied the merger. They didn’t get the result they wanted.”
The assertion that “the president denied the merger” flew in the face of everything the government has previously said about the deal.
On Saturday, Giuliani sought to clarify.