Accuracy in Media

There is nothing new about President Trump claiming not only that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia but that there is no such thing as a crime called “collusion.”

But the Washington Post disregarded those statements Monday with a story headlined, “Rudy Giuliani just obliterated the goal posts on Trump-Russia collusion.”

The story deals with the appearance by Giuliani, the former New York mayor who now serves as a legal adviser to the president, on the Monday morning talk shows on Fox News and CNN.

“President Trump’s defense in the Russia investigation has been a study in goal-post moving – constantly watering down previous denials and raising the standard for what would constitute actual wrongdoing,” wrote the Post’s Aaron Blake.

“But rarely has it been so concentrated in one morning. Trump’s lawyer/spokesman Rudolph W. Giuliani appeared on Fox News’s and CNN’s morning shows on Monday to downplay the idea that colluding with the Russians would have been illegal and to argue against strawmen.”

Blake said “the most notable portion” of interviews came when Giuliani “rekindled the idea that collusion isn’t even a crime. Trump’s defenders have occasionally noted that the word doesn’t appear in the criminal code – which is a misnomer – but Giuliani took it a step further: He basically suggested Trump would have had to pay for Russia to interfere on his behalf.”

Where the word ‘misnomer’ appears, there is a link to a story in the New Yorker that leads with the fact Trump has been saying collusion is not a crime since at least last December. Two months earlier, on Halloween 2017, Blake’s own newspaper stated unequivocally that collusion is not a crime.

In a story about the then-recent charges against three Trump campaign aides – two for activities that occurred a decade before the campaign and one for statements apparently made while drunk – said the indictments signaled Mueller planned to pursue “an extensive probe that will explore both personal wrongdoing of those connected with President Trump and possible efforts campaign officials took to work with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

“Collusion – the word Trump often uses to describe Mueller’s case, even as he asserts such a thing never happened – is itself not a crime, and Mueller’s team will probably have to sort through unseemly political dealings to determine whether a law was broken, legal analysts said.”

Blake then re-pressed the falsehood. “In case you forgot, Trump himself has been arguing for more than a year not that collusion wasn’t a crime but that there simply was ‘no collusion.’” He clearly has argued both.

“Just like Trump’s legal team has taken to arguing that a president can’t legally be guilty of obstructing justice, it’s now arguing that the other side of the investigation that has to do with Trump – the collusion side – is also a bogus standard. Or at least that seems to be where this is headed.”

This all comes back to a meeting at Trump Tower that included Donald Trump Jr., then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, White House aid and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, a Russian lawyer and a record promoter from England who had promised the Trump campaign dirt on its opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The meeting lasted 20 minutes, by which time Trump Jr. had determined the lawyer would be of no help to the campaign. There was no follow-up to the meeting and no action taken as a result.

Michael Cohen, the president’s lawyer, claimed last week Trump knew of the meeting in advance. The Trumps have said Cohen is wrong about the president knowing in advance of the meeting.

If the Post is so certain Trump has broken the law, it’s fair to ask why it hasn’t spent more time looking into Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which apparently paid two foreign governments for information on Trump.

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