Giuliani: 'Over my dead body' will Mueller interview Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a number of probes moving closer to the Oval Office, President Donald Trump and his attorney unleashed a fresh series of attacks Sunday on the investigators, questioning their integrity while categorically ruling out the possibility of a presidential interview with the special counsel.

Trump and Rudy Giuliani used Twitter and television interviews to deliver a series of broadsides against special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York. Giuliani said he was "disgusted" by the tactics used by Mueller in his probe into Russian election interference, including in securing guilty pleas from the president's former national security adviser Michael Flynn on a charge of lying to federal investigators.

Trump, Giuliani said, would not submit to an interview by Mueller's team.

"They're a joke," Giuliani told "Fox News Sunday." ''Over my dead body, but, you know, I could be dead."

The special counsel, who is investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, has continued to request an interview with the president. Last month, the White House sent written answers in response to the special counsel's questions about possible collusion. The White House has resisted answering questions on possible obstruction of justice.

Giuliani sarcastically said that the only thing left to ask the president was about "several unpaid parking tickets that night, back in 1986, '87 that haven't been explained."

If the president officially refuses an interview request, the special counsel's team could theoretically seek to subpoena him to compel his testimony. Such a move would almost certainly trigger an immediate court fight.

The Supreme Court has never directly ruled on whether a president can be subpoenaed for testimony in a criminal investigation, though the justices have said that a president can be forced to turn over records that have been subpoenaed and can be forced to answer questions as part of a lawsuit.

The special counsel's investigation has spun out charges and strong-armed guilty pleas from Trump underlings while keeping in suspense whether the president — "Individual-1," in Mueller's coded legalese — will end up accused of criminal behavior himself. This past week, his legal exposure grew as his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison after admitting he issued hush-money payments to women who alleged sexual trysts with Trump. Prosecutors and Cohen say he acted at the president's direction, which Trump and Giuliani deny.

Trump and Giuliani have repeatedly tried to paint Cohen as untrustworthy, with the former New York City mayor calling him a "pathological liar."

"Which is the truth?" Giuliani said of the competing stories from Trump and Cohen. "I think I know what the truth is. Unless you're God, you'll never know what the truth is."

Trump and Giuliani have also accused prosecutors of intimidating the president's associates into making false claims.

"Remember, Michael Cohen only became a 'Rat' after the FBI did something which was absolutely unthinkable & unheard of until the Witch Hunt was illegally started," Trump tweeted. "They BROKE INTO AN ATTORNEY'S OFFICE!"

It was not a break-in. The FBI executed a search warrant obtained from a judge in conducting a raid in April on Cohen's home, office and hotel room and seizing records on a variety of matters, among them a $130,000 payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels by Cohen. The application for the warrant was approved high in the Justice Department.

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Trump's presidency in 2018 through pictures
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Trump's presidency in 2018 through pictures
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures after arriving at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown after arriving in Pennsylvania to take part in the 17th annual September 11 observance at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque: "Celebratory fist pumps on a national day of mourning and reflection caught even the most seasoned of us off guard." REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
A supporter of Trump and Republican senate candidate Mike Braun attends the election night party in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., November 6, 2018. Reuters photographer Chris Bergin: "I saw the colour-coordinated woman in the back of the ball room while covering mid-term elections. She stood out to me because she was lit by a single overhead light that created deep shadows." REUTERS/Chris Bergin SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with supporters from a group called "Bikers for Trump" at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., August 11, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: "President Trump likes to be celebrated by supporters, and none better than a group known as "Bikers for Trump," who visited him at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, this summer. Unfortunately, it poured down that day and plans for an outdoor event gave way to a short visit inside the clubhouse for a group photo." REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Christine Blasey Ford closes her eyes as she is sworn in before testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. Reuters photographer Jim Bourg: "The moment looks peaceful as if Christine Blasey Ford had closed her eyes in thought, but the image actually reflects the fact that in the nine seconds that she had her hand up to be sworn in to testify, she blinked several times. Blasey Ford began her testimony by saying: 'I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.'" REUTERS/Jim Bourg SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump, en route to deliver remarks at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention, arrives aboard Air Force One at Nashville International Airport in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. January 8, 2018. Reuters photographer Jonathan Ernst: "One of my favorite photographers, Sam Abell, likes to quote his father: "Bad weather makes good pictures." In addition to the weather, the controlled chaos of White House press handlers and Secret Service agents help make pictures like this possible." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are seen behind the reflection of a House chamber railing as Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 30, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: "The State of the Union speech is one of the most important political events at the beginning of the year. We usually photograph it from several fixed positions, but this year I was assigned to be the 'rotating' photographer, meaning I could move around on the balcony and shoot from different angles, but only during short windows of time. During one of those windows, I found an interesting play of light reflected off a gold-colored railing, which, at a certain angle, could be seen to fall over the president." REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump confers with White House Communications Director Hope Hicks (L) as White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders listens during an interview with Reuters at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 17, 2018. Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque: "I stayed in the room after our reporters had left, and seemingly unnoticed like the cliched 'fly on the wall', I was witness to this unusual moment." REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump appears on the South Portico of the White House with the Easter Bunny standing behind him as the annual White House Easter Egg Roll is held on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 2, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: "There are many holiday events at the White House, but one of the most light-hearted happens during Easter, when the President shows up at the balcony of the South Portico accompanied by someone in a big Easter bunny costume. I didn't have the best position, but towards the end, the bunny stood behind the President and I was able to take this shot." REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron prepare to have their picture taken on a visit to the estate of the first U.S. President George Washington in Mount Vernon, Virginia outside Washington, U.S., April 23, 2018. Reuters photographer Jonathan Ernst: "I'm always happy for events that take us off the White House campus and provide new visual opportunities. This day, when the Trumps feted the Macrons at George Washington's historic estate, it provided just the right contrast for the stylish leader-couples as they took their spots for an otherwise posed moment." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he takes part in the commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of World War One, at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial in Paris, France, November 11, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: "During a recent visit to France and just days after a gunman opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, President Trump visited a WWI cemetery to honor American soldiers. As he spoke, I noted a gravestone at a side angle Ñ a single Star of David in the middle of rows and rows of crosses. I felt in this moment, the image carried more meaning than the words." REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump holds his prepared questions as he hosts a listening session with high school students and teachers to discuss school safety at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. Reuters photographer Jonathan Ernst: "This event was loaded with raw emotion as school shooting victims from across the country described their experience as student-survivors or as friends and family who never stop mourning dead children. President Trump was given a hand-written card by one of his aides to help him navigate the emotional meeting, and pictures of the card helped tell the story of the day." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump observes a demonstration with U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division troops, an attack helicopter and artillery as he visits Fort Drum, New York, U.S., August 13, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: "President Trump often talks about how much he likes big planes and tanks, and the 'beautiful military.' This summer he had a up-close look during a visit to a military base in New York state, where he signed the National Defense Authorization Act." REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo awaits the start of a joint news conference by President Donald Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he stands in the colonnade near the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 7, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: "I always say that as photojournalists we photograph through the lens of the lives we live, including the books we read, the music we listen to, the movies we watch. As I was waiting for President Trump to arrive at an event one day, I noticed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo standing right behind me in classic dark sunglasses. The image of John Belushi in the movie "The Blues Brothers" crossed my mind." REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the Columbia Regional Airport in Columbia, Missouri, U.S., November 1, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: "In a last push before the mid-term elections, President Trump traveled for six consecutive days, attending two or three rallies a day, to boost Republican candidates. Most of the rallies were held in airport hangars for an easy flight in and out. Sometimes, the rallies were held in the middle of the night, like this one at Columbia Regional Airport in Columbia, Missouri." REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque: "Body language can give an ordinary photo much more meaning, and here, Trump and Putin did not disappoint." REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walk together before their working lunch during their summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018. Reuters photographer Jonathan Ernst: "On a historic and difficult day, it was fun to look for the odd angle or expression. Here, Trump and Kim walk away after impromptu remarks to reporters - which clearly pleased the North Korean leader." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk with park superintendent Stephen Clark at the Flight 93 National Memorial during the 17th annual September 11 observance at the memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque: "A somber moment, this image came together because of the scale and symmetry of the wall panels and the people in the photo." REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Alex van der Zwaan goes through security at the U.S. District Court after arriving for his sentencing in Washington, D.C., U.S., April 3, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: "Everyone has to go through security, no matter who you are. He seemed to embrace the inevitable as the woman with the wand asked him to turn around, facing him back towards the doors where many of the news media were still gathered." REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Demonstrators fly a blimp portraying U.S. President Donald Trump, in Parliament Square, during the visit by Trump and first lady Melania Trump in London, Britain, July 13, 2018. Reuters photographer Peter Nicholls: "I took this picture of the Trump blimp from a wall at the back of Parliament Square, to get a clear view from above the crowd, as it was revealed for the first time, prior to a day of protests during his visit to the UK, mid-July." REUTERS/Peter Nicholls SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Supporters listen as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Belgrade, Montana, U.S., November 3, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: "As a White House photographer I'm always looking for a way to connect the President, Donald Trump, with a place. Before the mid-term elections Trump spent six days campaigning across the country, and at most of the rallies the visual elements were so similar that it was impossible to say whether we were in Florida or Alaska. In this case, though, the context was obvious. We arrived at a rally in Montana and I noticed a group of Native Americans wearing traditional headdresses behind the podium. For me this was the picture of the day." REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway gives an interview at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., July 18, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: "This is a fairly common scene at the White House, especially with Kellyanne Conway. Often the press will wait yards off while she or another member of the Trump administration gives a live interview. Conway will then walk past the rest of the press, and everyone hopes that she will give another interview to the group." REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks leaves the U.S. Capitol after attending the House Intelligence Committee closed door meeting in Washington, U.S., February 27, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: "This is the product of about seven hours of waiting and lots of team work involving constant coordination to guess where to wait in order to capture Hope Hicks as she left the hill. Luckily, there were several cameramen along for the moment and their lighting captured her perfectly." REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
The imprint of French President Emmanuel Macron's thumb can be seen across the back of U.S. President Donald Trump's hand after they shook hands during a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: "This is taken right after the first photo-op the two presidents had at the G7 summit after they had a tense back-and-forth on Twitter. They were smiling but Macron gripped Trump's hand quite hard and I noticed that it left a visible impression on Trump's hand." REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
A White House staff member reaches for the microphone held by CNN's Jim Acosta as he questions U.S. President Donald Trump during a news conference following Tuesday's midterm U.S. congressional elections at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 7, 2018. Reuters photographer Jonathan Ernst: "Covering politics has always felt to me like photographing a live theatre production - the actors and stage are usually set in a familiar way. But even if you've seen a specific play many times, there is always the possibility that there will be something exciting or new. It became obvious during this exchange that the dialogue was going in a different direction than expected, and I took it as a cue to make sure I gave the scene extra attention." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Fred Guttenberg (L), the father of Jaime Guttenberg, a victim of the February 14, 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, reaches out to try to shake hands with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh during his U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. Reuters photographer Joshua Roberts: "This moment happened in a break in testimony. Kavanaugh seemed surprised as Guttenberg approached but as he turned away he looked anxious. Kavanaugh later said he did not understand who Guttenberg was at the time." REUTERS/Joshua Roberts SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. first lady Melania Trump visits the Pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, October 6, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlo Allegri: "The First Lady had taken a tour of African nations and could not depart the continent without a visit to the incredible pyramids of Egypt where I, as part of the traveling press pool, was able to make this photo of her looking out over Giza Pyramid Complex." REUTERS/Carlo Allegri SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for travel to Ohio at the Morristown Airport in Morristown, NJ, U.S., August 4, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: "We photograph departures and landings hundreds of times. Sometimes, as in this case, the clouds or the light can give you a little gift." REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Convention at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, U.S., October 8, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: "I took this photograph as the pool was being ushered out to leave right before Trump's speech was supposed to end. These are the images we take after we have taken the literal, newsy ones." REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
A protester is removed during acting CIA Director Gina Haspel's testimony at her Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2018. Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque: "Just like sports, you have to follow the action. This time, I followed it out of the hearing room and into the hallway." REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Thomas Musolino wears a mask of U.S. President Donald Trump while holding his daughter Gianna Musolino, 10, during a Trump campaign rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S., August 2, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: "The President's rallies are well-known at this point, we attend a lot of them as members of the White House travel pool. This father-daughter situation really stood out from the crowd because of the juxtaposition of the mask and the tenderness between the two of them." REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a meeting of the North Atlantic Council during a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 11, 2018. Reuters photographer Francois Lenoir: "I like the contrast in the photograph. The presence of U.S. President Trump posing smiling and the lack of interest of the officials in the background." REUTERS/Francois Lenoir SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Air Force One prepares to depart for travel to Pennsylvania with U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump onboard from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., September 11, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: "I took this photograph from the motorcade as we drove by this eerie scene of fog surrounding Air Force One. It was lined up like that for a split second." REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. first lady Melania Trump climbs into her motorcade vehicle wearing a Zara design jacket with the phrase "I Really Don't Care. Do U?" on the back as she returns to Washington from a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border area in Texas, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., June 21, 2018. Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque: "I could not see the words on Melania's jacket when she boarded Air Force One. I only heard about it once airborne. But there was no way I was going to miss it again, and to my utter astonishment, she was wearing it once more upon her return to Washington." REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Senior White House Adviser Ivanka Trump and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stand next to the dedication plaque at the new U.S. embassy during the dedication ceremony in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018. Reuters photographer Ronen Zvulun: "I shot this picture when I was standing on a platform really close to Ivanka Trump. I knew exactly where to stand and what lens to use because I did a tour the day before. I knew this was the key picture we had been waiting for since the story broke some weeks before." REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 27, 2018. Reuters photographer Brian Snyder: "The East Room felt tense even before President Trump and Chancellor Merkel entered for their joint news conference. With Merkel's podium behind the President's from my vantage point, she seemed to want to keep an eye on him. The East Room was very full for the joint news conference, with photographers on ladders all around the perimeter." REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, puts her shoe back on after passing through a security screening, as she arrives at federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. Reuters photographer Shannon Stapleton: "On the morning that I took this picture there was a mad scrum outside the courthouse to get a picture of Stormy Daniels. She didn't enter the regular entrance of a media gauntlet that was set up for her. I placed myself by a window where I saw her passing through the metal detector. Shooting through the window was difficult but I was able to make the frame." REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump walk away after holding a joint news conference at Chequers, the official country residence of the Prime Minister, near Aylesbury, Britain, July 13, 2018. Reuters photographer Hannah McKay: "This was the third and final time I was photographing Donald Trump during his working visit to the UK. I'd noticed he had a tendency to hold Theresa May by the hand when they used stairs, so I lay on the floor for fifteen minutes waiting for the pair to exit via some steps. As they did, Trump took May by the arm and shouted over his shoulder, "Yes" in response to the question "Mr. President, will you tell Putin to stay out of the U.S elections?" - from a reporter in the press conference." REUTERS/Hannah McKay SEARCH "TRUMP POY" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
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Prosecutors have said Trump directed Cohen to arrange the payments to buy the silence of Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the run-up to the 2016 campaign. Federal prosecutors in New York say the payments amounted to illegal campaign contributions because they were made at the height of election season to keep voters from learning of Trump's alleged infidelities.

Giuliani has argued the payments were made to protect Trump's family, not to influence the election.

"If there's another purpose, it's not a campaign contribution," Giuliani told ABC. "Suppose he tried to use campaign funds to pay Stormy Daniels. It wouldn't be illegal. These are not campaign contributions."

The hush money wasn't initially reported on campaign finance documents and, in any case, far exceeded the legally acceptable amount for in-kind contributions. The federal limit on individual contributions is $2,700.

Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about the Trump Organization's goals to build a tower in Moscow. His representative, Lanny Davis, told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that his written statement to Congress, which contained the lie, was published ahead of his testimony and Cohen then spoke to the White House.

"Not one person from the White House ever said, 'Don't lie,'" Davis said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House oversight committee and the likely chairman come January, said he wanted Cohen to testify before Congress about what he told prosecutors. Meanwhile, Trump's fellow Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, acknowledged on CNN that "it was not a good week for President Trump" and urged "that the special counsel be allowed to complete his investigation unimpeded."

Trump compared his situation to one involving President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. The Federal Election Commission, which typically handles smaller campaign finance violations when the actions aren't willful and with civil penalties that are typically fines, docked the Obama campaign $375,000 for regulatory civil violations. The fines stemmed from the campaign's failure to report a batch of contributions, totaling nearly $1.9 million, on time in the final days of the campaign.

But legal analysts said the accusations against Trump could amount to a felony because they revolve around an alleged conspiracy to conceal payments from campaign contribution reports — and from voters. It's unclear what federal prosecutors in New York will decide to do if they conclude that there is evidence that Trump himself committed a crime.

Trump has not yet laid out a detailed defense, though he could conceivably argue that the payments were made not for the purposes of advancing his campaign but rather to prevent salacious stories from emerging that would be personally humiliating to him and harm his marriage.

That argument was advanced by former Sen. John Edwards, a North Carolina Democrat, in a similar campaign finance case that went to trial in 2012. But that may be tougher for Trump than it was for Edwards given the proximity of the president's payment to the election — timing that, on its face, suggests a link between the money and his political ambitions. Edwards was acquitted on one count of accepting illegal campaign contributions, but jurors couldn't reach a verdict on the five remaining counts, including conspiracy and making false statements.

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Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

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Follow Lemire on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@JonLemire

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