Defending President Trump’s campaign for its willingness to accept help from Russia in the 2016 presidential election, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said there was “nothing wrong” with a campaign taking information from foreign sources.
“Any candidate in the whole world, in America, would take information,” Giuliani told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” on Sunday. “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians. It depends on where it came from.
“You’re assuming that the giving of information is a campaign contribution,” added Giuliani. “People get information from this person, that person.”
But when asked if he would’ve accepted information against a rival candidate, Giuliani, a former mayor of New York and Republican presidential candidate, said, “I probably wouldn’t. I wasn’t asked. I would have advised, just out of excess of caution, don’t do it.”
“You’re saying there was nothing wrong with doing that?” asked Tapper.
“There’s no crime,” said Giuliani. “We’re going to get into morality? That isn’t what prosecutors look at — morality. This didn’t become an international scandal because of immorality. It became an international scandal because the president was accused of violating the law, falsely.”
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Giuliani was asked the same question.
“So, it is now OK for political campaigns to work with materials stolen by foreign adversaries?” asked host Chuck Todd.
This time Giuliani had a slightly different answer: “It depends on the stolen material.”
Giuliani said it was common practice for political candidates to conduct opposition research on their opponents. He claimed Sen. Mitt Romney tried to “dig up dirt on people” when he ran for president in 2012 and called the Utah Republican a hypocrite for his criticism of Trump.
“Stop the bull,” Giuliani said on CNN. “Stop this pious act that you weren’t trying to dig up dirt on people, putting dirt out on people.”
After special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report was released Thursday, Romney in a statement Friday said that after reading the 448-page document, he was “appalled that, among other things, fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia — including information that had been illegally obtained.”
The redacted report included 10 episodes that were examined as possible interference in Mueller’s investigation by Trump and his associates. Mueller made no recommendation about prosecution, although he specified that he could not clear the president of attempting to improperly influence the probe.
In one of the most striking sections of the report, Mueller wrote: “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”
The report credits Trump’s first White House counsel, Don McGahn, with stymieing the president’s attempts to fire Mueller, to the point of threatening to resign.
“Don McGahn saved him,” Todd said. “Why is the president angry?”
“Don McGahn didn’t save him,” Giuliani shot back. “… He had a perfect right to fire Mueller.”
At another point Giuliani compared the hacked emails stolen by Russian agents from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign officials to the Pentagon Papers, the internal Defense Department report on the Vietnam War that was leaked by Daniel Ellsberg to the New York Times in 1971.
“[The] Pentagon Papers were stolen. They were stolen from the Department of Defense. My God, that’s horrible,” Giuliani said.
“This is a foreign adversary, though,” Todd pointed out.
Giuliani responded: “What’s the difference between a spy and a foreign adversary?”
“One [Ellsberg] works for the United States of America and one doesn’t,” Todd noted.
Another guest on the CNN show, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, reacted to Giuliani’s defense of Trump, calling it “just ridiculous.”
He went on: “I think that shows how toxic the politics are today, this win-at-all-costs attitude that the president has and his administration has. That’s disgusting, to think that any major official, let alone someone so closely tied to the Trump administration, would think that that’s a good idea.”
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