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Rudy Giuliani downplays Robert Mueller investigation: 'Collusion is not a crime

President Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told the press on Monday that 'collusion is not a crime.' (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

In a pair of interviews on Monday, President Donald Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, dismissed any threat from special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing Russia investigation — while echoing claims that collusion is not a prosecutable offense.

What did Giuliani say?

Speaking to CNN "New Day" co-host Alisyn Camerota, Giuliani first downplayed the president's relationship with his embroiled former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who faces charges resulting from the Mueller probe.

Acknowledging that Manafort's trial begins on Tuesday, Giuliani said, "Right, and he has no information incriminating of the president — I know that for a fact."

The former New York mayor went on to say, "They can squeeze him, [but] Paul Manafort does not know anything...what I'm saying is, he was not involved with intimate business relationships with Donald Trump."

Pointing to Manafort's short stint as Trump's campaign manager, Giuliani added, "Four months, 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 — hacking is the crime...The President didn't hack."

Prior to the CNN interview, Giuliani told "Fox & Friends" Monday morning that he has "been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime. Collusion is not a crime," insisting that President Trump is "absolutely innocent."

Later, Giuliani phoned in to Fox News seeking to clarify his earlier comments, telling anchor Harris Faulkner that "it's a very, very familiar lawyer's argument that...the alternative, that my client didn't do it, and even if he did, it's not a crime."

Well, is it a crime?

Former FBI Director James Comey said during a CNN town hall in April that "collusion is actually not a thing that exists under the federal laws of the United States," and that he "had never heard the term until it appeared in the media."

And in May, CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero said, "There is no section in the criminal code that says 'it is a crime for a political campaign to 'collude' with a foreign power to win an election."

Cordero went on to add that criminal violations could, however, emerge if there was evidence of hacking or a violation of campaign finance laws related to Mueller's investigation.

Fordham University law professor Jed Shurgerman concurred, writing in Slate last week that "while 'collusion' might not be a crime under any federal statute, any collusive conduct by the Trump campaign could be prosecuted as a 'conspiracy against the United States.'"

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