Yesterday morning, President Donald Trump‘s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, went on television and declared that “collusion is not a crime,” attempting to absolve the president and his campaign of any criminal liability for conspiring with Russia during the 2016 election.
If they did do it, that is.
Today, the president tweeted that same sentiment out.
Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2018
Giuliani has frequently field-tested new arguments for the president on FOX, only to see them end up as a bold declaration in Trump’s Twitter feed the next day. Back in June, he argued that the president had the ability to pardon himself. What happened 24 hours later?
As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2018
A month before that, Giuliani revealed that President Trump had “reimbursed” his fixer, Michael Cohen, for the deal to buy Stormy Daniels’ silence.
What happened later?
Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA. These agreements are…..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2018
Trump’s bold proclamation that collusion is not a crime—which is correct in an entirely semantic sense, but doesn’t mean actions undertaken by the campaign weren’t illegal—shifts the president’s argument tremendously.
For two straight years, it was that there was “no collusion.” But if it wasn’t a crime, and you also didn’t do it, why such a vociferous effort to deny it? If someone accused you of driving the speed limit on the highway, you wouldn’t spend years arguing you didn’t, only to then finally say, exhaustedly, well, it’s legal.
You’d probably begin with that argument.
Unless Giuliani opened up a textbook this week and just found this out.
That, too, is very possible.