Giuliani withdraws from the interview with the January 6 panel

WASHINGTON – Rudolph Giuliani, who helped lead President Donald J. Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results as his personal attorney, abruptly on Thursday pulled out of a scheduled Friday interview with the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol after the committee refused to allow him to record the session.

His attorney said Mr. Giuliani had been negotiating with the commission about his testimony for months, and had finally reached an agreement to talk about matters other than his conversations with Mr. Trump or any other subject he believed to be under the privilege of attorney and client, Robert J. Costello.

Giuliani’s abrupt withdrawal threatens what would have been a major breakthrough in the investigation. Mr Costello said his testimony could include details about interactions with members of Congress and other participants in the plans who were not Mr. Giuliani’s clients. With Mr. Giuliani called to testify, the standoff raises the specter of another drawn-out legal battle between the commission and a former Trump aide.

The impasse began when Mr Costello told the commission on Thursday that Mr. Giuliani intended to videotape the interview. Mr Costello said that when the commission’s lawyers refused to allow him to do so, he called off the meeting.

“He is willing to talk about anything that is not his privilege,” Mr Costello said. “The only sticking point we had was the interview recording. Now, that tells me that they are more interested in keeping things secret rather than getting to the so-called truth. If you are interested in a person’s testimony, why not agree with that?”

Mr Costello said Mr Giuliani’s testimony had not yet been brought to the table, and that he would continue to negotiate with the team’s lawyers. He said Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, “simply does not trust” members of the committee, specifically Representative Adam B. Schiff, a California Democrat, believes they will selectively amend his testimony.

“If they change their minds and say, ‘Listen, we’re going to record the interview together,’ then we’ll participate,” Mr Costello said.

Tim Mulvey, a spokesman for the commission, said the commission would consider enforcement action against Mr Giuliani if ​​he did not change course and comply with the commission’s subpoena.

“Mr. Giuliani has agreed to participate in a written interview with the Select Committee. Today, he has informed the Committee investigators that he will not attend unless he is allowed to record the interview, which was never an agreed condition,” said Mr. Mulvey. “Mr. Giuliani is an important witness to the plot to overthrow the government, and is still under summons. If he refuses to comply, the commission will consider all options for implementation.”

The commission interviewed more than 970 witnesses and recommended criminal contempt for congressional indictments of four of Mr. Trump’s closest allies, who refused to cooperate fully.

Trump’s last chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was too Referred to the Ministry of Justice charged with possible criminal charges after refusing to interview with the Commission. Another former assistant, Stephen K. Bannon, Kan Sent to him in November After refusing to provide information to congressional investigators.

Last month, home Vote to recommend criminal contempt for the Congressional indictments against Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino Jr., two other close allies of Mr Trump, after the pair challenged two subpoenas from the panel.

The Department of Justice has not yet taken action on the referrals of Mr. Meadows, Mr. Navarro and Mr. Scavino.

As a key figure in Mr. Trump’s attempts to stave off electoral defeat, Mr. Giuliani will be in a position to tell investigators a series of extraordinary measures taken last fall and winter in an effort to maintain the losing president’s grip on power.

Among those efforts was a scheme to disrupt the normal functioning of the Electoral College by persuading lawmakers in disputed swing states. To create alternative lists of voters They show that Mr. Trump has triumphed in the states that President Biden has won.

Mr. Giuliani was instrumental in examining a plan to use the Department of Homeland Security To seize the voting machines and examining the data inside it for evidence of alleged fraud. At the direction of Mr. Trump, Mr. Giuliani asked a top Homeland Security official if the department could legally take control of the machines – an idea the official dropped. Mr. Giuliani later opposed a more explosive proposal that the machinery should be seized by the army.

Mr. Giuliani has been summoned With other members of the legal team which has described itself as an “elite strike force” and has filed a litany of lawsuits on behalf of Mr. Trump as they issue conspiracy theories and make unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud.

The subpoena asked the committee all documents that Giuliani was detailing the lobbying campaign he and other Trump allies had launched to target state officials, confiscate voting machines, contact members of Congress, any evidence to support the conspiracy theories he pushed and any arrangements. in exchange for his fees.

On January 6, while speaking to a crowd of Trump supporters before a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol, Mr. Giuliani called for “Trial by combat. Later, after the building was under siege, he and Mr. Trump called lawmakers in an effort to delay ratification of Mr. Biden’s victory.