WASHINGTON — Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, suggested Sunday that the American people had a “right to know” about the private Democratic emails released during a state-sponsored hack by the Russian government aimed at bolstering Trump’s 2016 election.
During an interview on “Meet the Press” days after special counsel Robert Mueller’s partially redacted report was released, Giuliani said the American people were better off with an inside glimpse into Hillary Clinton’s campaign operation — regardless of the source of the leak.
He compared the hacked information to the Pentagon Papers, which shed light on controversy surrounding the Vietnam War.
“They shouldn’t have stolen it, but the American people were just given more information about how deceptive, how manipulative her campaign was,” Giuliani said. “I wonder if there isn’t an argument that the people had a right to know that about Hillary Clinton.”
The Mueller report, released on Thursday, details how the Russian government “interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” with intrusions including the hack of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman.
While it found the Russians “worked to secure” Trump’s election and that his campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election activities.”
The document dumps included internal deliberations by campaign and national party staffers, including some that exacerbated rifts between supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the Democratic Party.
Giuliani denied knowing during the campaign that the emails were stolen by Russian actors or “participating” in the Russian government’s manipulation. But when asked whether he believed it was acceptable for political campaigns to work with material stolen by foreign adversaries, Giuliani replied, “It depends on the stolen material.”
On top of an extensive look at the Russians’ plan to aid the Trump campaign, Mueller’s report also analyzed whether Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice.
Mueller declined to file such a charge, but noted that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
That statement led some Democrats, including presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to call on the House to begin impeachment proceedings.
The report details numerous times where “the President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful … largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”
In one instance, the report details how White House Counsel Don McGahn declined to follow through with Trump’s order to fire Mueller.
During his “Meet the Press” interview, Giuliani argued that Trump had “a perfect right to fire Mueller” and called the report “really sloppy.”
He also questioned the focus on the damaging information on Trump contained in the report, pointing to the decision by Mueller not to charge Trump with any crimes and calling Trump “innocent.”
CORRECTION (April 21, 2019, 2:40 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the day the Mueller report was released. It was released Thursday, not Friday.