WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in a pair of Monday morning TV interviews asserted that “collusion is not a crime,” as special counsel Robert Mueller continues his yearlong probe into purported ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives looking to interfere in the 2016 election.
"I have been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime," Giuliani said in a "Fox & Friends" interview. "Collusion is not a crime."
Giuliani’s assertion came a day after Trump took to Twitter to once again decry Mueller’s probe as a “Witch Hunt” and to declare “There is No Collusion!”
The Department of Justice in an August 2017 memo outlined that collusion could lead to criminal charges, stating that Mueller had the authority to investigate whether crimes were committed “by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election for President of the United States, in violation of United States law.”
Appearing on CNN’s “New Day,” Giuliani said: "You start analyzing the crime — the hacking is the crime.”
He was referring to Russia’s role in the hacking into the email systems of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. Giuliani asserted that no crime was committed by Trump because “the President didn't hack. He didn’t pay for the hack."
Giuliani also downplayed reports that Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen was willing to testify before Mueller that Trump indeed had prior knowledge of a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between his eldest son and campaign aides and a Kremlin-connected attorney who claimed to have dirt on Clinton.
"This Russia meeting, I'm happy to tell them, he wasn't there," Giuliani told CNN.
Trump has said he was not aware of the meeting, and on Friday, without naming Cohen, said on Twitter: “Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam.”
Mueller’s investigation has resulted in the indictment of 12 Russian agents, charged with hacking into Democrats’ emails and releasing those emails online during the course of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign as part of a broader plan to influence that election.
Department of Justice officials have said the indictment does not allege any U.S. citizens committed a crime, which White House officials have touted as evidence there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Giuliani’s interviews came a day before Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort heads to court for the start of his federal trial on financial fraud charges. Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him, is one of four former Trump campaign aides who have been indicted by Mueller.
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russia. Former campaign aide Rick Gates pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and lying to the FBI.