President Donald Trump set the news agenda on Monday by angrily tweeting about the special counsel investigation again. By now, if you’re reading this, you’re probably already at least somewhat aware of what Trump had to say about Robert Mueller‘s wide-ranging investigation this time around. Although Trump’s lead attorney Rudy Giuliani attempted to clean up that mess, it appeared things got increasingly worse.
Let’s go back to the a.m. hours. If you missed the whole ordeal, Trump offered the following apostrophe-heavy soliloquy about legendary Richard Nixon aficionado–and rumored, odds-on-favorite Mueller target–Roger Stone:
“I will never testify against Trump.” This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about “President Trump.” Nice to know that some people still have “guts!”
Critics responded in gale force fashion.
Disgruntled conservative lawyer George Conway responded with the day’s prevailing take on the Trump missive by tweeting out a couple citations to federal obstruction of justice statutes.
File under “18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1512” https://t.co/e4ZGVn1kJi
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) December 3, 2018
As Law&Crime previously reported, those statutory numbers refer to the crimes of corrupt persuasion during an ongoing investigation and witness tampering, respectively.
Former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal echoed Conway’s criticism as did many other legal experts and observers. Then Rudy Giuliani was asked to weigh in on his client’s latest outburst. And weigh in he did–by seemingly admitting that Trump was attempting to influence Stone’s testimony.
Los Angeles Times reporter Chris Megerian noted their conversation on the matter.
“I just talked to Rudy Giuliani about this tweet,” Megerian wrote. “He says it’s not obstruction of justice because the president is only encouraging someone not to lie.”
That may not have been the brightest way to describe Trump’s reference to Stone.
Julie Rendelman is a former prosecutor and currently a defense attorney working in New York City. She also serves as an analyst on the Law&Crime Network. Rendelman thinks both Trump and Giuliani blew it here.
“Trump’s tweet regarding Roger Stone is simply one of a growing number of comments by Trump designed to send a message of intimidation and bullying to those who might cross him,” she told Law&Crime. “Giuliani’s response is, as usual, a poorly communicated attempt to give an innocent explanation for Trump’s tweet. And as we see time and time again, it appears to have backfired.”
Robert Bianchi is also a former prosecutor as well as a national legal analyst and host on the Law&Crime Network. Bianchi said that Giuliani that himself, back in his prosecutor days, likely would have made easy work out of Trump’s perceived message for Stone.
“Poppycock,” Bianchi said of Giuliani’s excuse. “When Giuliani was U.S. Attorney he would indict in a flash someone communicating with a witness–arguing it was to embolden them to stay the course and not cooperate.”
Bianchi went on to note that Trump’s presidential prerogatives only sweeten the potential pot here.
“Not to mention the person tweeting is under investigation and has the power to pardon, which he, Trump, in plain sight has stated is on the table. Add those comments up and it is clear to all but the dumbfounded what is happening…be cute by half and you will get burned.”
Perhaps further complicating matters for himself and the 45th president, Roger Stone appears to have signaled that he received the presidential message of encouragement loud and clear.
Posting on Instagram hours after the controversial Trump tweet was widely discussed across the media landscape, Stone wrote, “I am proud of my 40 year friendship with President @realdonaldtrump and prouder still of the amazing job he is doing making America Great Again!”
[image via Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images]