Bewitch-hunted and bewildered
Collusion or not collusion? That's not the question, Rudy Giuliani says.
Though President Donald Trump has been invested for more than 14 months in his "NO COLLUSION" response to the Russia investigation, his lawyer Giuliani tried something different in a baffling series of interviews on Monday.
"Collusion is not a crime," Giuliani said on Fox News. “I don't even know if that's a crime — colluding about Russians. You start analyzing the crime — the hacking is the crime. The president didn't hack. He didn’t pay them for hacking.”
The seeming shift in the defense stance came days after news that Michael Cohen — the former Trump fixer now in a fix with a federal criminal investigation — was prepared to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump was clued ahead of time about the meeting at his campaign headquarters in June 2016 with Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump denies it and accused Cohen of "trying to make up stories."
After his first round on morning TV, Giuliani called in to Fox News with an awkwardly phrased attempt at clarification.
"My client didn’t do it and even if he did it, it’s not a crime,” Giuliani said.
By the morning, Trump was reinforcing that line of talk, with a tweet that said: "Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion ... !"
The point is of course off the point. There's no crime labeled "collusion." But acts of collusion can be a basis for charges such as conspiracy, election fraud, computer hacking and wire fraud. For more, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Giuliani kept up his attacks on Cohen as a lying liar who lies and depicted the president as a victim of Shakespearean betrayal.
“He turned out to have a close friend betray him, like Iago betrayed Othello, like Brutus put the last knife into Caesar,” Giuliani said on CNN. “It happens in life, that you get double-crossed.”
If the Shakespearean allusions start to feel old, Giuliani could fall back on his old habit of quoting lines from the "Godfather" movies.
Janison: Loyal flush
Loyalty often has a limited shelf life in Trump's White House and inside his inner circle, writes Newsday's Dan Janison. To use one of Trump's favorite words of late, that's reciprocal.
Cohen is the latest to forsake fealty, but there have been others, from Stephen Bannon — quoted as calling the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians "treasonous" and "unpatriotic" — to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Omarosa Manigault, the former "Apprentice" contestant who is promoting a tell-all book, "Unhinged," due out next month. She has cryptically urged Trump to "come clean."
I'd talk to Iran, Trump says
Trump said Monday he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without preconditions. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said later there would be preconditions, including changes in Iran's behavior both at home and in the region as well as a commitment to reaching a new nuclear agreement "that actually prevents proliferation."
Earlier, Iran said talks with the United States would be impossible because of the Trump administration’s "hostile policies," according to a report in state-run media.
Trump traded Twitter threats with Iran last week. He has vowed tougher global enforcement of sanctions following the U.S. pullout from the nuclear agreement negotiated during the Obama administration. For more, see Figueroa's story for Newsday.
Still the Rocket Man?
While Trump continues to tout results from his summit last month with Kim Jong Un, U.S. spy agencies are seeing signs that North Korea is constructing new missiles at a factory that produced the country’s first missiles capable of reaching the United States, The Washington Post reported.
The new intelligence does not suggest new North Korean capabilities but shows that work on advanced weapons, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, is continuing after Trump tweeted that Pyongyang no longer posed a nuclear threat.
U.S. spy agencies are seeing signs that North Korea is constructing new missiles at a factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, according to officials familiar with the intelligence.
When Kavanaugh dealt Trump a win
Six years before Trump nominated him to the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh sided with Trump Entertainment Resorts’ successful effort to thwart a unionization drive at one of its Atlantic City casinos, Bloomberg News reported.
Kavanaugh was one of three Republican-appointed judges who put aside a National Labor Relations Board ruling that would have required the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino to bargain with the United Auto Workers. Labor advocates says it's one of several rulings by Kavanaugh that suggest he would side against unions.
What else is happening:
- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 85, said she wants to stay on the job "at least five more years." That cheered liberal fans who hope Trump won't get a chance to nominate a successor for her — at least in his current term.
- The Trump administration is considering bypassing Congress to grant a $100 billion tax cut mainly to the wealthy, The New York Times reported. The idea is to make changes in how capital gains taxes are calculated.
- The Koch brothers, as powerful conservative activists, have become Trump's new target for verbal bile given their opposition to the administration's tariffs.
- Politico reports corporate executives have gotten a windfall under the tax law signed last December because it has encouraged stock buybacks at a record pace.
- Prosecutors from Mueller's office said former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort earned $60 million from his work as a political consultant in Ukraine. Manafort's trial on charges of lying on tax forms and bank fraud begins Tuesday with jury selection.
- Trump renewed his warning that he's willing to shut down the government this fall if he doesn't get the immigration package bill he wants from Congress. In a tweet, he said the United States must "keep building, but much faster, THE WALL!"
- Trump celebrated via Twitter and in person his chief of staff John Kelly's anniversary on the job. While Kelly has survived White House turmoil, his standing and influence on Trump has diminished since he was brought in to bring order and discipline to chaos.