After many months of unequivocally insisting there was “NO COLLUSION” between his campaign and Russia, President Trump hinted at a retreat on Tuesday — tweeting that “Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!”
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
Beyond the obvious absurdity of accusing Hillary Clinton of colluding with Russia to defeat herself — after her campaign was the target of Kremlin-orchestrated cyberattacks that were publicly encouraged by Trump and used for pro-Trump propaganda operations — Trump’s “collusion is not a crime” talking point contradicts his previous stance on the matter.
Just over two months ago, Trump wondered why special counsel Robert Mueller wasn’t investigating his 2016 opponent for potential collusion. Apparently, collusion isn’t a crime unless you’re Hillary Clinton.
Why didn’t the 13 Angry Democrats investigate the campaign of Crooked Hillary Clinton, many crimes, much Collusion with Russia? Why didn’t the FBI take the Server from the DNC? Rigged Investigation!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2018
Trump’s new talking point attempting to downplay the severity of collusion isn’t limited to the president himself.
Earlier on Tuesday, during an appearance on Fox & Friends, one of Trump’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow lied about the origins of the Russia investigation and insisted that “collusion is not a crime.”
President Trump's attorney, @JaySekulow, begins interview on @foxandfriends by lying about the Russia investigation, which he falsely claims "started off" with the dossier. Sekulow eventually gets around to reiterating Giuliani's point that "collusion is not a crime." pic.twitter.com/9H0jMOVg4Q
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 31, 2018
On Monday, another of Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, dramatically moved the goalposts about Russia collusion during a string of cable news interviews.
“I have been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime,” Giuliani said on Monday’s Fox & Friends. “Collusion is not a crime.”
Last week, Trump’s longtime lawyer and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, indicated he’s willing to testify that Trump knew in advance about a June 2016 meeting between his top campaign officials and Kremlin-connected Russians who promised political dirt on Hillary Clinton. While Trump has denied having such knowledge, he made remarks just two days before the meeting happened — teasing an upcoming speech detailing dirt he had about Hillary Clinton — that suggest he hasn’t been telling the truth.
Last month, Trump tweeted that he believes he has “the absolute right to PARDON myself.”