For months, President Donald Trump has repeatedly and vehemently denied that his campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election. Now he appears to be launching a new line of defense — doubling down on his attorney Rudy Giuliani‘s claim that “collusion is not a crime.”
Trump tweeted Tuesday morning: “Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!”
The tweet comes a day after Giuliani made the same claim in multiple television appearances.
“I don’t even know if that’s a crime, colluding about Russians,” Giuliani told CNN in one of the interviews. “You start analyzing the crime — the hacking is the crime. The president didn’t hack. He didn’t pay them for hacking.”
In another appearance on Fox & Friends, Giuliani said, “I have been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime. Collusion is not a crime.”
Legal experts agree that collusion itself is not a federal crime. But according to Bloomberg, even if Trump wasn’t personally involved in Russian hacking efforts, he could still be found guilty of aiding and abetting if it’s proven that he counseled Russians to commit a federal hacking crime.
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Earlier this month, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers in connection with the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee’s computer network. Mueller is also investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and whether Trump has obstructed justice.
Trump and Giuliani’s collusion comments come amid reports that Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is prepared to tell Mueller that Trump knew in advance about his son Donald Trump Jr.‘s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer who offered dirt on Clinton. Trump and his son have denied that the president knew about the meeting in advance.