Trump has repeatedly denied that there was any “collusion” between his 2016 presidential campaign and Moscow officials. For two years now, that has been the line. Just no collusion at all. It was simple, to the point, and easily echoed by everyone in the president’s orbit.
The president’s first real pivot came when he told the New York Times that “collusion is not a crime.” Many wondered why Trump deviated from the simplistic denial of collusion. If there was no collusion, then it doesn’t really matter whether collusion is a crime, now does it?
But legal experts have repeatedly said that anyone found collaborating with Russia on the 2016 election could be charged with crimes — such as conspiracy.
Speaking to CNN’s “New Day” recently, Giuliani said he actually wasn’t sure whether collusion is a crime. Again, this is a noteworthy deviation from the no collusion talking point we heard so often repeated.
Then, on Tuesday, Trump seemed to echo Giuliani, that “collusion is not a crime,” with his secondary point being that there was “No Collusion.”
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
It’s pretty audacious of Trump’s team to reduce their defense to a purely pedantic one. If anything, they’re lucky that the word collusion was initially used to frame the allegations of any degree of conspiracy that may have happened between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials. Treason has a much more powerful ring to it.
The fact is that the wording doesn’t matter. If Mueller finds that Trump’s campaign worked with Russia in order to secure the presidency, or simply failed to report Russian efforts to undermine our democracy to the intelligence community, there will be charges — and they will be serious.