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In 1998 Giuliani Argued the President Could Be Subpoenaed; 20 Years Later Singing Different Tune
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10 May 2018 10:28 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Rudy Giuliani (Image Source: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)


Rudy Giuliani has been all over the news this past week supporting his new client, Donald Trump. After it was suggested Special Counsel Robert Mueller might subpoena him, Giuliani indicated they don't have to comply. A 20-year-old interview says he was once singing a different tune.

At a meeting in March Trump's attorneys stated he wasn't obligated to speak with Mueller's investigators regarding the possible collusion between his campaign and Russia to influence the campaign. Mueller responded by suggesting he could subpoena the president to appear before a grand jury, 

"We don't have to," Giuliani said recently. "He's the president of the United States. We can assert the same privileges other presidents have."

But in 1998, he felt a lot differently when Bill Clinton was the subject being questioned and not Trump.

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Giuliani said, "You gotta do it. I mean, you don't have a choice."

Rose wondered what would happen if the president refused, and Giuliani replied, "Then there is a procedure for handling that. You go before a judge, and a judge decides whether or not he has a recognizable exemption or privilege from testifying. And if a judge decides that he doesn't, you have to testify. You don't have a choice about it."

The former New York mayor also contended that the Watergate case that led to Richard Nixon resigning "resolved the fact that the president is not above the law, is not able to avoid subpoenas." 

He felt a president has the right to visit a judge to ensure the proceeding is improper. "And, if a judge agrees that, fine," he said. "But if a judge doesn't, then you have to testify."

Giuliani stated back then in 1998 that with regards to criminal law, the president should be treated the same as any other citizen.

And while in 2018 Trump has suggested the investigation surrounding him is hurting the country, 20 years ago Giuliani thought the U.S. could handle it. "The wisdom of the American public may be far greater than we realize," he said then.

Bill Clinton was the first sitting president to be subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury. This was in regards to whether he had a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and then lied about it under oath. 

Clinton went on to appear in front of the grand jury, with independent counsel Kenneth Starr presenting evidence that he'd committed perjury and obstruction of justice. Clinton was impeached by the House, while the Senate acquitted him on both charges.

The question remains on whether Giuliani has changed his mind in 20 years, whether he is simply looking at this as a partisan matter, or whether he is simply doing his job and defending his client.

Just as Giuliani is waffling with his statements regarding Trump, if you go back 20 years, he is still waffling.

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