In a conversation with NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, remarked, puzzlingly, that “truth isn’t truth.” Here’s Politico’s reconstruction of the exchange:
“When you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth,” Giuliani told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning
“Truth is truth,” Todd responded.
“No, no, it isn’t truth,” Giuliani said. “Truth isn’t truth. The President of the United States says, “I didn’t …”
A startled Todd answered: “Truth isn’t truth?”
Giuliani: “No, no, no.”
Todd said: “This is going to become a bad meme.“
This has occasioned lessons in metaphysics from former FBI chief, James Comey:
Truth exists and truth matters. Truth has always been the touchstone of our country’s justice system and political life. People who lie are held accountable. If we are untethered to truth, our justice system cannot function and a society based on the rule of law dissolves.
— James Comey (@Comey) August 19, 2018
Not that these guys need any iron-manning, but it seems to me that this (like Kellyanne Conway’s alternative facts) is pretty banal claim inartfully stated. Even the Politico reconstruction makes this obvious: Giuliani’s worry is that Mueller will be working with a different set of alleged facts, so there might be disagreement that looks bad for Trump. I think it’s hard to disagree with this view.
There’s a better version of the objection, I think (and I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m guessing someone somewhere has said this).
A slightly more uncharitable version of Giuliani’s utterance might go like this: Giuliani (and Conway before him) mean to undermine our processes of finding the truth. Part of the process for discovering the truth in our adversarial legal system is an interview such as the one Mueller wants to hold. It is of course true that Mueller has (probably) collected, at this stage, a set of claims he thinks are true. But, as far as I know, and I am not a lawyer, Mueller is an investigator and not a judge and a jury. He likely also knows this. The problem, then with Giuliani’s claim is that it rejects the adversarial process for the reason that there will be disagreement over which claims are true, which is, after all, the very point of the adversarial process.
Late update. Here’s Giuliani’s Twitter clarification:
My statement was not meant as a pontification on moral theology but one referring to the situation where two people make precisely contradictory statements, the classic “he said,she said” puzzle. Sometimes further inquiry can reveal the truth other times it doesn’t.
— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) August 20, 2018
The view seems to be that if you have contradictory statements, he-said-she-said, then no process is adequate to discover it. Take note, criminal defendants!