President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told reporters Monday that he doesn’t believe collusion is a crime as the investigation continues into Russian meddling in the 2016 and possible ties to Trump and his campaign officials.
“I don’t even know if that’s a crime – colluding about Russians,” Giuliani said Monday morning on CNN. “Hacking is the crime. The president didn’t hack. He didn’t pay for hacking.”
The president has denied several times that he worked with Russia to turn the election in his favor. He has frequently framed special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference as a partisan witch hunt sparked by Democrats frustrated by his win over his rival in the 2016 race for the White House, Hillary Clinton.
“Collusion is not a crime,” Giuliani told Fox News on Monday. “The only crime here is hacking, and it is ridiculous to think that the president hacked.”
During a CNN town hall in April, then-FBI Director James Comey said collusion “is actually not a thing that exists under the federal laws of the United States.”
“I had never heard the term until it appeared in the media,” he said. “The question that we would look at as a counterintelligence agency is, are any Americans conspiring, which is a crime defined by the U.S. code, with a foreign government to commit any offenses against the United States or to defraud the United States? Or is any American aiding and abetting?”
Comey was fired in May 2017, four years into his tenure as FBI director. In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last year, he said he felt Trump tried to pressure him to drop the investigation into former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Flynn resigned less than a month into his tenure after reports surfaced that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with Russian officials.
The president has denied several times that the Russia investigation played a role in his decision to dismiss Comey. However, he told NBC News in 2017 that he was thinking about “this Russia thing” when he came to his decision.
Mueller was tasked in May 2017 with investigating Russian election interference and its possible ties to Trump and his campaign officials. The investigation has led to charges against 32 people accused of crimes ranging from money laundering and falsifying income tax returns to lying to FBI investigators.
Five people, including Flynn, have pleaded guilty to charges in the investigation. The investigation is ongoing.