Rudy Giuliani embarked on another "chaotic media tour" Monday, and once again, "several veterans of the Trump campaign, like much of the viewing public, were left befuddled," The Daily Beast's Asawin Suebsaeng reported Monday night. Giuliani cast doubt on his client President Trump's longstanding denial of colluding with Russia in the 2016 election, arguing on CNN and Fox News that collusion isn't even a crime. Giuliani then seemed to disclose a third, previously unknown strategy meeting top Trump campaign officials allegedly held in June 2016, two days before Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner hosted Kremlin-linked Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.
CNN's Anderson Cooper tried to sort out Team Trump's shifting goal posts and explanations Monday night:
In an interview Monday night, "Giuliani appeared to blame the maelstrom he kicked up on inquisitive New York Times reporters who he suggested had compelled him to proactively spin a potentially damaging story that may or may not actually be real," Suebsaeng said. He suggested his "incredibly confusing and potentially damaging" string of interviews helped shut down inquiries from Times reporter Maggie Haberman and others who'd reached out to ask about the alleged pre-Russia meeting planning session. (Haberman told The Daily Beast she's as confused as everyone else: "We don't talk about sourcing, and wouldn't now — but I have lost the thread of what the former mayor is talking about.")
As to the merits of Giuliani's comments, "'collusion is not a crime' is hardly a bulletproof defense," Vanity Fair's Abigail Tracy explains. "'Collusion' is really shorthand for variety of activities, some legal and some illegal." More to the point, "why Trump continues to allow Giuliani to do on-camera interviews, or to keep him as an attorney at all, is something of a mystery," she adds. "Nevertheless, his sudden reappearance on the media circuit — in nervy, pugnacious form — suggests the president, too, is on edge." Peter Weber