I wrote today about Rudy Giuliani’s media tour. On Sunday, Giuliani had reverted to the posture that there is just no way to answer basic questions about the controversy:
Rudy is not limited by his ability to gather facts, but by the president’s willingness to be forthright. Although it would be painful — to the first lady, above all — Trump would be well-served to play it straight. He could make a vague confession about past conduct he’s not proud of; say that Cohen paid off Daniels to avoid embarrassment, with added motivation as the election approached (what Giuliani has been trying to say); and amend his campaign’s Federal Election Commission filing in an excess of caution.
It’s never ideal to admit to a possible violation of the law, even a technical one. But campaign-finance violations are rarely prosecuted, and current Justice Department guidance says that a sitting president can’t be indicted. This means that it is most important for Trump to win in the court of public opinion, and having a believable, consistent account is much better than basing a defense on a flat-out denial that no one believes, almost certainly not even Rudy or Trump’s other advocates.
Compared to the other allegations against Trump — collusion with the Russians, obstruction of justice — a decade-old affair is not a matter of great public import. But Bill Clinton showed how a president can parlay prideful denials, overconfidence in his ability to talk his way out of anything and personal embarrassment into a legal and constitutional conflagration. And, eventually, he had to tell the truth anyway.