Trump defense attorney Rudy Giuliani was back on the air Sunday to respond to the newly released Mueller report, and for fans of his unique brand of headline-making “if he did it” legal speculation, the former New York mayor did not disappoint.
“There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians,” Giuliani explained to State of the Union host Jake Tapper on Sunday morning —though he added that he wasn’t sure he would have decided to do that himself and would have advised Trump against it.
The comments were in response to Senator Mitt Romney’s recent statement that he was “sickened” by what he read in the Mueller report and “appalled” that “fellow citizens working in a campaign for president [Trump] welcomed help from Russia, including information that had been illegally obtained, that none of them acted to inform American law enforcement.”
At first, Giuliani seemed to imply that Romney shouldn’t be criticizing others for accepting foreign assistance to a presidential campaign, remarking, “Man, if I could tell you the things [Romney] wanted to do [in the 2012 presidential campaign].” He then told Romney to “stop the bull” and to “stop this pious act that you weren’t digging up, trying to dig up dirt on people, putting dirt out on people.”
But pressed on the point that Romney wasn’t accepting information from foreign governments, Giuliani conceded that he did not know if Romney had done that. The hypocrisy, he maintained, was because “any candidate in the whole world in America would take information, negative [information].”
“From a hostile foreign source?” Tapper followed up.
“Who says it’s even illegal?” Giuliani replied, going on to make the point that the fruits of Russia’s hacked labor were printed by “every newspaper.”
“There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians,” he soon added. “It depends on where it came from.”
(On Meet the Press, Giuliani was similarly asked whether “it is now okay for political campaigns to work with material stolen by foreign adversaries?” His response was, “It depends on the stolen material.”)
“There’s no crime,” Giuliani maintained on State of the Union, getting annoyed with how Tapper kept wanted to know if he thought it was ethical to accept stolen information from a hostile foreign power in order to win a presidential campaign (rather than just let Giuliani try to articulate his narrow focus on the legality). Then again, America’s Mayor also tried to the muddle the difference between Mueller’s team finding insufficient evidence to prove a criminal conspiracy and not finding any evidence at all.
“They couldn’t find a single piece evidence for anything, hacking, dissemination,” claimed Giuliani.
“There’s an entire volume of evidence,” replied Tapper.
“There is an entire volume of stuff, of stuff, not of evidence,” the Trump lawyer responded.
Later on the show, former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara criticized Giuliani over his nonchalant views on the Trump campaign’s documented transgressions:
The idea that it is okay — separate and apart from it being a criminal offense — that we should be telling future candidates in the run-up to an election in 2020 that if an adversary, a foreign adversary, is offering information against a political opponent, that it’s okay and right and proper and American and patriotic, it seems he’s saying, to take that information and that’s okay — that’s an extraordinary statement and I would hope he would retract it.