While “no collusion” has been repeated incessantly by Trump officials and the president himself, it’s only recently that the president’s legal team has begun expressing skepticism as to whether or not collusion is, in fact, a crime.
The president first made the claim last year in an interview with the New York Times, saying, “there is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime.”
The president’s head lawyer and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani posed the argument recently on CNN’s “New Day”:
they’re not going to be colluding with Russia, which I don’t even know if that’s a crime, colluding about Russians. You start analyzing the crime — the hacking is the crime…The President didn’t hack.
The president echoed the sentiments in a tweet soon after:
Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2018
The argument, according to legal experts, appears to be purely semantic.
While the word “collusion” is not specifically used in federal campaign finance laws, Title 52, Section 30121 states in part:
It shall be unlawful for—
(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—
(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election
Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) recently pointed this out to Trump’s legal team in a pointed video via Twitter.
I’ve been hearing @realDonaldTrump and @RudyGiuliani claiming that ‘collusion is not a crime.’ Well, I took the liberty of reading the U.S. code myself. Here’s what the law actually says: pic.twitter.com/qW2GPxuDdC
— Senator Chris Coons (@ChrisCoons) August 1, 2018
Folks on Twitter broke it down for the president:
The Trump campaign received help from the Russian GRU to win the election. It had a monetary value so it’s a campaign contribution and the GRU is a foreign entity. Thus it’s an illegal campaign contribution. Mr. Trump you are guilty of collusion @realDonaldTrump
— David Gross (@DavidGr78574965) August 2, 2018
?how's this for simple:
secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy
esp. in order to cheat or deceive others
complicity, intrigue, plotting,
— kiwani (@kiwani) August 3, 2018
You can look it up for yourself.
— Griz (@grizatlcp) August 3, 2018
And called out Trump’s blatantly shifting narrative:
Progression on a thème:
« There was no collusion.
Okay, there was collusion, but it’s not a crime.
Okay, it is a crime, but the president is above the law.
Okay, the president is not above the law, but he can pardon himself, so there!… »#MAGA Morons Are Governing America
— Pamela Evans (@PamelaESciGal) August 6, 2018
Aaaaand there it is. From no meetings to no collusion to collusion’s not a crime to collusion is awesome. Your GOP, ladies and gentlemen.
— Lena (@byzantineicon) August 6, 2018
Before: No Collusion
Yesterday: Collusion not a crime
Today: Stop Russia probe
— Chuck Mojdehi (@chuck90025) August 1, 2018
As the president increases efforts to discredit Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation and as more revelations unfold, it’s likely the tempestuous narratives will continue to shift. Eventually, enough spinning is bound to make anyone dizzy.