News and Commentary

Giuliani’s Comment About Russian Collusion Causes A Stir

Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been all over the networks defending his boss, dropping all kinds of quotable lines, but one particular comment on CNN is turning heads: In the midst of dismissing the allegations of collusion against Trump, the former New York City mayor said he’s not so sure that colluding with Russians is actually a crime anyhow.

The comment came during Giuliani’s interview with CNN “New Day” co-anchor Alisyn Camerota on Monday. As the two were discussing former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s trial, which begins Tuesday and is expected to last three weeks, Giuliani insisted that Manafort was not involved in any “intimate business relationships” with Trump. He then dropped the collusion line.

“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,” said Giuliani.

“You start analyzing the crime,” he said. “The hacking is the crime. …The President didn’t hack.”

In its coverage of the quote, CNN notes that Giuliani isn’t wrong about collusion, citing fired FBI Director James Comey’s much-quoted comment that collusion “is not actually a thing that exists under the federal laws of the United States.” The question is one of conspiracy with a foreign government to commit a crime against the U.S.

CNN also acknowledges that “[n]o evidence has publicly emerged that the Trump campaign has engaged in these activities, though special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is ongoing.”

Manafort’s much-anticipated trial begins Tuesday. In June, Special Counsel Robert Mueller requested that Manafort be jailed after some evidence emerged that Manafort might have been attempting to tamper with witnesses.

Manafort’s charges have nothing to do with collusion or the Trump campaign. The Wall Street Journal reports:

While Mr. Mueller’s investigation has resulted in charges against 25 Russians and four former advisers to Mr. Trump, the case against Mr. Manafort will delve into his personal finances largely before his work on the campaign.

Mr. Manafort also faces a second, related criminal trial in Washington, D.C., after this one, and could face pressure to cooperate with Mr. Mueller, depending on the outcome of the first trial.

Mr. Manafort has pleaded not guilty and denies all of the charges, which include tax fraud, bank fraud and failing to file reports on foreign bank accounts.

Though the case against Manafort does not directly connect to the original intent of the Mueller probe, its outcome could have major implications for the investigation, the Journal stresses. “A conviction would provide the special prosecutor with momentum as he pushes to complete the investigation amid criticism from some Republicans that he is leading a partisan inquiry. An acquittal would give Mr. Mueller’s critics ammunition to push for a quick end to the special counsel’s operation,” the Journal stated.