US president Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani says he can not find anything in federal law that makes collusion a crime.
- Mr Giuliani told CNN that he believes the hacking is the crime, not the collusion
- He also compared Mr Cohen with famous traitors, including Shakespeare’s Iago
- He said Mr Cohen is a ‘scumbag’ and a ‘horrible person’
Speaking in a series of interviews in US media, Mr Giuliani defended Mr Trump and his campaign against allegations that he knew about Russian meddling in the election.
“I’ve been sitting here looking in that federal code trying to find collusion as a crime,” Mr Giuliani said on the Fox News program Fox and Friends.
“Collusion is not a crime. Everything that’s been released so far shows the President to be absolutely innocent — he didn’t do anything wrong.”
He said recordings revealing a possible agreement between Mr Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen to pay off a Playboy model show the president is innocent.
“I mean, he wants to do a transaction by cheque, wants to do it as a corporate transaction, perfectly legal,” Mr Giuliani said.
In a recording secretly made by Mr Cohen and released in the media last week, Mr Trump can be heard talking to his former lawyer about a potential payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Mr Trump has denied any affair ever took place.
In a separate interview with CNN, Mr Giuliani repeated his claims about collusion.
“I don’t even know if that’s a crime, colluding about Russians,” the former federal prosecutor told CNN New Day’s Alisyn Camerota.
“You start analysing the crime — the hacking is the crime … the President didn’t hack.”
In a wideranging interview Mr Giuliani also said Mr Cohen had betrayed Mr Trump by taping his conversations, comparing Mr Cohen to famous traitors including Brutus and Iago.
“[Mr Trump] turned out to have a close friend betray him like Iago betrayed Othello, and Brutus put the last knife into Caesar — I think they both trusted those people,” he told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.
“I’ve practiced law for a long time, if you tape-record your client and lie to your client about [it], you have no character. You forfeited your character.
“The guy is unethical, he’s a scumbag, he’s a horrible person.”
Mr Trump has continuously denied any collusion with Russia and has denied any affair with Karen McDougal.
He repeated his stance on Sunday, tweeting that “there is No Collusion” and that the investigation headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is a “witch hunt”.
Mr Giuliani’s comments come as former Trump aide Paul Manafort goes on trial accused of bank and tax fraud in relation to Russian election meddling.
Despite a focus on financial crimes, the trial could yield politically damaging headlines about a man who ran Mr Trump’s campaign for three months and attended a June 2016 meeting with Russians offering damaging information on Mr Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
That meeting is now a focal point of Mr Mueller’s 14-month-old investigation.
Prosecutors are expected to argue that Mr Manafort’s lavish spending on suits, homes and luxury items did not match the income declared on his tax returns and that he misled lenders when he borrowed tens of millions of dollars against New York real estate.
Mr Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Paul Manafort’s first trial is about to start. (This photo taken 2016) (Reuters: Carlo Allegri, file)