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Rudy Giuliani represented President Donald Trump's legal team on CNN on Monday, arguing—after claiming for months that the president's 2016 campaign did not collude with Russia—that collusion is not a crime. (Photo: @CNN/Twitter)

As Giuliani Declares 'Collusion Is Not a Crime,' Does He Know That Conspiracy Is One?

After defending Trump against allegations of Russian collusion, president's personal lawyer changes his tune

Julia Conley

President Donald Trump has spent more than a year deflecting accusations that his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia to win—but his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, employed a new tactic on Monday by declaring he's not sure if collusion with a foreign power during a U.S. presidential campaign is a crime.

"Rudy Giuliani is a former prosecutor. He knows that conspiracy is a crime." —Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)

Asked about Paul Manafort's brief time as Trump's campaign manager, Giuliani told CNN's Alisyn Camerota, "Four months, they're not going to be colluding with Russia, which 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."

Watch:

The former New York mayor and federal prosecutor echoed a sentiment he expressed earlier in the day on "Fox and Friends."

Trump himself also said in a New York Times interview in December, "There is no collusion, and even if there was, it's not a crime."

Critics saw Giuliani's statements as indicative that the president's defense against accusations of working with Russian contacts to help him win the election is rapidly unraveling.

While the word "collusion" does not appear in the federal Code of Laws, the fact that it is illegal for a person or group to "conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States" certainly does.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team of investigators into the Trump campaign has indicted several Russian nationals and five American Trump associates on charges including Manafort, whose trial regarding allegations that he laundered $30 million on behalf of pro-Russia Ukrainian politicians begins Tuesday.

Giuliani also vaguely questioned Mueller's fitness to lead the investigation, which he took over after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey last year. Camerota asked Giuliani about a "contentious business relationship" that Trump claims to have had with Mueller—possibly over a membership dispute the two reportedly had regarding one of Trump's golf properties.

"I'm not sure I know what exactly what the conflict is," Giuliani said. "I have a good idea. It's one that would have kept me out of the investigation. ...What it means is I would have had a personal interest, a personal dispute with the President of the United States before the investigation that really precluded me from it."

Bloomberg Opinion editor Timothy L. O'Brien slammed Giuliani's veiled attack on Mueller, for which he offered no evidence, as "McCarthyite."


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