Rudy Giuliani Is Now Claiming Collusion May Not Be a Crime

The latest evolution in the president’s defense in the Russia investigation.

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.

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.

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.”

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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