The Slatest

A History of Trump’s Lawyers Declaring That, Don’t Worry, the Investigation Will Soon Be Over

Rudy Giuliani looks at his watch.
Rudy Giuliani attends an event where President Donald Trump nominated U.S. Circuit Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Rudy Giuliani is sure this is all going to get wrapped up soon. Talking with the Washington Post’s Robert Costa from his golf trip in Scotland, the president’s lawyer seemed to feel pretty good, considering his client’s former campaign chairman and former personal lawyer respectively were found guilty and pleaded guilty to a total of 16 federal crimes Tuesday afternoon.

Giuliani is working in a long tradition of Trump lawyerdom: assuring the public and the president that no matter what’s going on—a guilty plea, an indictment, a conviction—special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is thiiiiis close to ending, or at least the White House’s role in it. The purpose of these predictions is a bit unclear. When former White House lawyer Ty Cobb foreshadowed the end, many speculated that it was his way of stopping Trump from firing Mueller. With Giuliani, it may be a way to pressure Mueller to finish up by making it seem like there’s a deadline he “has” to meet.

These unpersuasive forecasts, especially recently, have come amid the monthslong process of negotiating a presidential interview with Mueller’s investigators—possibly as a way of forcing the special counsel’s hand in agreeing to more favorable terms for the president. For example, this month Giuliani said after sending an interview proposal to Mueller, “We do not want to run into the November elections. So back up from that, this should be over by September 1.” That finale now seems unlikely.

Here’s a list of the rosy but ever-changing predictions from Trump’s lawyers (along with a few coinciding developments that forced them to revisit their timelines):

Aug. 18, 2017: White House lawyer Ty Cobb tells Reuters, “I’d be embarrassed if this is still haunting the White House by Thanksgiving and worse if it’s still haunting him by year end.”

Oct. 30, 2017: A federal grand jury indicts Paul Manafort and Rick Gates on conspiracy, money laundering, and failing to register as a foreign agent charges

Nov. 19, 2017: According to the Washington Post, Cobb had “hoped the focus on the White House would conclude by Thanksgiving, but adjusted the timeline slightly … saying he remains optimistic that it will wrap up by the end of the year, if not shortly thereafter.”

Dec. 1, 2017: Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI. Cobb says in a statement, “The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel’s work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”

Dec. 3, 2017: Cobb tells Axios that he believes the special counsel’s investigation of the White House will be done “shortly after the first of the year absent some unforeseen delay.”

Dec. 17, 2017: The Washington Post reports that Trump’s lawyers “have been assuring the president that Mueller’s investigation is poised to wrap up by January.”

Jan. 17, 2018: Ty Cobb tells CBS News that he “expects it to be wrapped up in 4-6 weeks.”

Feb. 22, 2018: Manafort and Gates face 32 new charges, including bank and tax fraud.

Feb. 23, 2018: Gates pleads guilty to lying to the FBI and starts cooperating with the investigation.

May 2, 2018: Ty Cobb leaves the White House to be replaced by Emmet Flood.

April 19, 2018: Giuliani joins Trump’s legal team.

May 20, 2018: Giuliani tells CNN that Mueller wants to end the investigation by Sept. 1 in order to avoid affecting the midterm elections. “Giuliani said the impression he got was that Mueller was saying if the President did do an interview, then the investigation into Trump’s actions, including any potential obstruction of justice or possible collusion with Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, could be wrapped up by [Sept. 1].”

July 13, 2018: Following the indictments of several Russian nationals for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, Giuliani tells Politico, “I think they’re going to write their report this summer,” referring to the special counsel. “I think it’s virtually written.” He also adds: “I do see it as the end of the investigation,” and “I don’t know what else there is to investigate.”

Aug. 8, 2018: Giuliani tells Fox News that if Mueller doesn’t end his investigation by September, it would be a “very, very serious violation of Justice Department rules,” and that Mueller “shouldn’t be conducting one of these investigations in the 60-day period [preceding a general election].” (This isn’t true).