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Giuliani contradicts White House on AT&T merger, then backtracks

"The president denied the merger."

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks to reporters at Trump Tower, January 12, 2017 in New York City. President-elect Trump continues to hold meetings Trump Tower. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks to reporters at Trump Tower, January 12, 2017 in New York City. President-elect Trump continues to hold meetings Trump Tower. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Rudy Giuliani, who was hired by the White House to help defend the special counsel’s probe against President Donald Trump, is yet again backtracking on comments unrelated to the Russia investigation that go against previous White House statements.

On Friday, Giuliani told the Huffington Post that “Trump denied the merger [between AT&T and Time Warner].” That was news to many, as the stance of the White House for the last few months has been that Trump has had no hand at all in the merger, a consolidation which the Department of Justice is suing to block.

In the interest of damage control, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated the White House’s position Saturday morning, “The Department of Justice denied the deal,” she told CNN.

Giuliani was then forced to backtrack, telling CNN that Trump “didn’t interfere” with the Justice Department’s case. According to Giuliani, what he was trying to say was that the $600,000 payment AT&T made to Michael Cohen’s LLC did not sway Trump to act in the corporation’s favor.

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AT&T confirmed the payment last week, saying in a statement, “Essential Consulting was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration.”

Whether or not Trump personally denied the merger is vital, considering the political implications that have plagued the case from the beginning.

Time Warner is the parent company of CNN, a news outlet President Trump has a long history of bitter conflict with. In October of 2016, when AT&T announced its bid to buy Time Warner, then-candidate Trump said he opposed the deal, and has since maintained that position, saying the deal is “not good for the country.”

There were concerns, however, that Trump and his aides would try to block the deal even though he was not supposed to play a direct role in whether or not it gets approved.

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Giuliani’s comments on AT&T are the latest in a series of gaffes by the former New York mayor that have done more harm than good to the president.

Last week, he appeared on ABC News and gave an incoherent interview that suggested Trump had never even met adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with the president while before he ran for office. Giuliani was forced to backtrack after host George Stephanopoulos showed a picture of Trump and Daniels standing together.

Giuliani also suggested that $130,000 in “hush money” made to Daniels “may have involved the campaign,” which counters the Trump legal team’s larger narrative — that the payment was irrelevant to the campaign. These statements could later be used against Trump in court.