Exclusive: Giuliani on Clinton — ‘Of course she should be investigated’

President TrumpDonald John TrumpProsecutors investigating Trump inaugural fund, pro-Trump super PAC for possible illegal foreign donations: NY Times George Conway: Why take Trump's word over prosecutors' if he 'lies about virtually everything' Federal judge says lawsuit over Trump travel ban waivers will proceed MORE’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told The Hill on Wednesday that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders, Warren meet ahead of potential 2020 bids Hillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — New momentum for privacy legislation | YouTube purges spam videos | Apple plans B Austin campus | Iranian hackers targeted Treasury officials | FEC to let lawmakers use campaign funds for cyber Comey’s remarks about Trump dossier are not credible, says former FBI official 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 TrumpOutgoing GOP rep says law enforcement, not Congress should conduct investigations Protesters host dance party outside Stephen Miller's home Trump signs order aimed at revitalizing economically distressed communities 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. McGahnManafort pardon would be impeachable, indictable and convictable Both political parties guilty of weaponizing impeachment More questions than answers in too many Trump stories MORE earlier this year that he wanted to order the Department of Justice to prosecute Clinton and James ComeyJames Brien ComeyComey’s remarks about Trump dossier are not credible, says former FBI official Trump shock leaves Republicans anxious over 2019 Trump attorney general pick a prolific donor to GOP candidates, groups: 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.”