Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, said Wednesday night that there could have been “collusion” between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials, but if it did happen, Trump didn’t do it.
“I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign,” Giuliani said during an interview with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo on his “Cuomo Prime Time” show.
Giuliani added that Trump himself has never said there was no collusion at all, just that he did not assist with Russian efforts to interfere with the election.
“Well, you just misstated my position,” Giuliani told Cuomo, who denied that he characterized what was previously said, Giuliani then continued: “I never said there was no collusion between the campaign. Or between people in the campaign,” before he was cut off.
Trump has repeatedly and emphatically said there was “no collusion” and senior campaign officials, including counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, who served as Trump’s third campaign manager, have also denied accusations of collusion.
A former mayor of New York City, Giuliani has made a niche for himself in recent months as Trump’s lawyer on TV, making statements that complicate the messaging of Trump and the White House on core topics, such as whether or not anyone linked to the president colluded with Russia.
But Giuliani’s statement on Wednesday seems to come from the playbook the president and his allies used to explain the $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who accepted the hush money payment for her alleged affair with Trump shortly before the 2016 election.
Initially, Trump denied he knew of the payment; then Giuliani said Trump actually repaid Cohen the money; Giuliani then argued that the money was not related to the campaign, an important distinction given campaign finance law; and, most recently, after Cohen was charged with violating campaign finance law, Giuliani said paying Daniels could not be illegal.
The shifting explanations for payment to Daniels have also been mirrored in how three key players — Trump, Giuliani and the White House — address allegations of collusion.
Initially, Trump denied collusion; after reports came to light showing top campaign officials met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in Trump Tower, Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr., who attended the meeting, argued it was about adoption policy; when further reports alleged the meeting was actually about getting dirt on Hillary Clinton, it was then argued that any campaign would have taken such a meeting; eventually Giuliani argued that if collusion had happened it “is not a crime” and, on Wednesday, Giuliani said there could have possibly been collusion by the campaign. (There were variations on all these arguments over time, as well.)
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine
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