“Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion,” Trump tweeted, referring to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Giuliani made headlines Monday when he gave a series of rambling TV interviews in which he stated that “collusion is not a crime.”
“Colluding about Russians ― I’m not sure that’s even a crime,” Giuliani told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “The hacking is the crime. The president didn’t hack.”
Jay Sekulow, another member of Trump’s legal team, repeated the claim during an appearance Tuesday on “Fox & Friends.”
″There’s not any evidence of collusion here involving our client and the Russians,” Sekulow said. “But collusion isn’t a crime.”
Trump ally Chris Christie, a former governor of New Jersey, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that “collusion is not a crime.”
The Trump team began publicly arguing this assertion late last year. In December 2017, Trump told The New York Times that “there is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime.”
“I watched [attorney and Harvard law professor] Alan Dershowitz the other day,” Trump told the Times. “He said, No. 1, there is no collusion, No. 2, collusion is not a crime, but even if it was a crime, there was no collusion. And he said that very strongly. He said there was no collusion. And he has studied this thing very closely. I’ve seen him a number of times. There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime. But there’s no collusion.”
That same month, Sekulow made a similar statement to The New Yorker.
“For something to be a crime, there has to be a statute that you claim is being violated,” Sekulow said. “There is not a statute that refers to criminal collusion.”
Collusion itself is not a federal crime, according to experts. But any Trump cooperation with the Russian government could be tied to multiple criminal violations of election law, computer hacking, false statements and wire fraud.
Even if Trump himself wasn’t personally involved in Russian hacking efforts ― as Giuliani stated ― directing or aiding those efforts in any way could constitute a crime, according to the Washington Post.
By arguing that collusion is not a crime, Trump and his legal team are effectively broadening their attempt to discredit Mueller’s investigation. Giuliani previously claimed the president can’t legally be found guilty of obstructing justice.
This article has been updated to include additional comments from Sekulow and Christie.