During two separate television interviews Monday morning, President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani openly questioned whether collusion with the Russian government—a reported focus of the special counsel’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin—is a criminal offense.
The attempts to downplay the gravity of the charges appear to mark a new stage in Trump’s defense in the Russia investigation. As recently as Sunday night, the president again rejected the allegation that any collusion between his campaign and Russian officials took place during the 2016 presidential election.
By Monday morning, his lawyer Giuliani told Fox & Friends, “I have been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime—collusion is not a crime.”
Appearing on CNN’s New Day moments later, Giuliani repeated his assertion. “I don’t even know if that’s a crime, colluding about Russians,” Giuliani said. “You start analyzing the crime, the hacking is the crime.”
“The president didn’t hack! He didn’t pay them for hacking!” he continued.
GIULIANI argues ***collusion is not a crime***: “I don’t even know if that’s a crime — colluding with Russians. Hacking is the crime. The president didn’t hack! He didn’t pay for the hacking.” pic.twitter.com/QMenE1qzxx
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 30, 2018
The television interviews come hours after Trump published a series of angry tweets targeting special counsel Robert Mueller. He also claimed Democrats were the party guilty of collusion—an offense his personal lawyer now suggests may not be a crime.
….Also, why is Mueller only appointing Angry Dems, some of whom have worked for Crooked Hillary, others, including himself, have worked for Obama….And why isn’t Mueller looking at all of the criminal activity & real Russian Collusion on the Democrats side-Podesta, Dossier?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2018
The president’s ramped up attacks against the special counsel investigation follow reports that Trump’s longtime personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen is preparing to tell Mueller that the president knew in advance about the now infamous June 2016 meeting, during which Trump campaign associates met with a Russian lawyer in hopes of receiving damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
Trump hit back, suggesting on Friday that his one-time confidant and fixer is using spurious information in order to strike a deal with federal prosecutors over his troubled taxi business.
Update 2:50 pm EST: Later on Monday, Giuliani called into Fox News to clarify his statements by repeating the assertion that collusion is not a crime. “It’s a very, very familiar lawyer’s argument that: My client didn’t do it, and even if he did it, it’s not a crime.” He continued: “The only crime here is hacking and it is ridiculous to think that the president hacked.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 30, 2018