On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted this succinct, convincing message about the ongoing investigation into his presidential campaign’s ties to the Russian government:
In an interview with HuffPost published Tuesday night, Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lead counsel in the investigation, tried out a new, even less convincing line of defense for his boss: The campaign definitely didn’t collude with Russia ahead of the election to secure information about Hillary Clinton, but even if theyven if they did, would that really be so bad?
From HuffPost (emphasis added):
In a recent interview with HuffPost, Giuliani initially disputed the notion that Trump’s daily citing, in the final month of his campaign, of Russian-aligned WikiLeaks and its release of Russian-stolen emails constituted “colluding” with Russia.
“It is not,” Giuliani said.
Then he switched tacks.
“OK, and if it is, it isn’t illegal... It was sort of like a gift,” he said. “And you’re not involved in the illegality of getting it.”
Got that? Trump and his campaign team definitely did NOT collude with Russia ahead of the 2016 election... but, even if they did, that would be fine, because the emails released by Wikileaks were essentially “a gift” that the Trump campaign couldn’t have turned away anyway.
Some legal experts may take issue with this generous interpretation of the law, and there’s another word for something that is given “sort of like a gift” between two political actors.
The former New York City mayor went on to say that he’s not even convinced that Russia really stole the Clinton campaign’s emails.
“You say stolen. I say, emails that were put out in the public domain,” he told the site.
The fact that Giuliani continues to talk to news outlets about the ongoing investigation—and continues to give dubious quotes like this—is not only a testament to the prudence and mental fortitude of the president and his allies, but a transparent effort by Giuliani to throw his weight around and drive the narrative of this investigation. It remains to be seen whether it’ll work.