Former Mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani speaks at the Cisco Connect 2013 conference in Warsaw, Poland, November 26, 2013.
Pawel Supernak/EPA

On collusion question, Giuliani isn’t doing Trump any favors

Updated

In early May, there was a fair amount of reporting that suggested Donald Trump was growing frustrated with Rudy Giuliani’s antics. It was easy to understand why: as we discussed at the time, the former New York mayor, added to the president’s legal team for reasons that still don’t make any sense, has a habit of doing more harm than good.

Take this morning, for example.

For months, President Donald Trump has repeated the same refrain: There was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia. But on Monday, his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, took a different tack, saying that “collusion is not a crime.”

“I have been sitting here trying to find collusion as a crime. Collusion is not a crime,” Giuliani said in an interview on “Fox and Friends” Monday morning.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 7/30/18, 9:00 PM ET

Trump camp shifts talking points on possible collusion

Despite some confusing re-stating and backpedalling by Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the pattern of talking points among Trump supporters is clearly discernable: deny that collusion is a crime. Daniel Goldman, former assistant U.S. attorney explains
Despite some confusing re-stating and backpedalling by Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the pattern of talking points among Trump supporters is clearly discernable: deny that collusion is a crime. Daniel Goldman, former assistant U.S. attorney explains
In case this isn’t obvious, there’s an important difference between the president and his legal defense team saying, “There was no collusion,” and “Collusion isn’t a crime.” The former is a categorical denial of dubious legitimacy; the latter is a hedge that appears intended to address new evidence that may yet emerge.

What’s more, as NBC News’ report added, “There is no statute covering ‘colluding’ with a foreign power, but it is illegal to conspire to violate laws against not only hacking, but foreign participation in elections. In an indictment earlier this month, special counsel Robert Mueller accused 12 Russian intelligence officers of conspiracy to hack computers and to defraud the United States, alleging that people ‘known and unknown to the grand jury’ participated in that conspiracy.”

Making matters worse, that’s not all Giuliani said this morning.

He told CNN, for example, “Hacking is the crime. The president didn’t hack. He didn’t pay for the hacking.”

Giuliani was pushing back against allegations that don’t exist. No one has accused the president of launching his own cyber-attack or financing Russia’s espionage operation.

The concern is that Trump’s political operation may have cooperated with a foreign adversary during its attack on our political system – and that’s the part Giuliani is trying to dismiss as unimportant.

The presidential attorney went on to say this morning that Trump “did not participate in any meeting about the Russia transaction,” which is the sort of phrasing that raises eyebrows – because we’ve been told there was no “transaction.”

As for allegations that Trump was informed about the infamous Russia meeting in June 2016, when Giuliani was asked today how he can be sure the president didn’t know about it, the lawyer replied that “nobody can be sure of anything.”

If the president was growing frustrated with Giuliani in May, how exactly does Trump feel about him now?