It might be Donald Trump's new counter-argument against the Mueller investigation or it might not be. With Rudy Giuliani running Trump's defense on television, who the hell knows. Rudy might just be making this up as he goes, but it looks like Trump and his legal team are saying that collusion is perfectly legal because collusion isn't a crime.
More gaslighting from the Stupid Watergate conspirators. Naturally, those of us who exist here on Earth One know that collusion is merely a colloquial news media shorthand that indicates the actual legal term "conspiracy." It's not unlike 2009-ish when the tea party Republicans made a huge stink over the word "czars" during the early months of the Obama administration, deliberately failing to acknowledge that "czars" is a press nickname for policy advisers, and absolutely not an Obama-invented term since it had been in use since the 1980s. Again, Trump and his goons are counting on the fact that Trump supporters don't bother to look up this shit.
Nevertheless, Rudy appeared on CNN this morning to make his new "collusion isn't a crime" argument, even though the criminal statute isn't literally called collusion. That aside, Rudy might have just imperiled the legal defenses of Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr., not to mention perhaps the president himself, by blabbing something brand new.
Rudy said that Lanny Davis, Michael Cohen's lawyer, mentioned another meeting at Trump Tower two days before the infamous June 9, 2016 meeting in which a pack of Russian operatives, including Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akmetshin, met with Manafort, Kushner and Junior. Amazingly, Rudy confirmed that this earlier gathering was a "real meeting" -- not an invention of Cohen and Davis. Frankly, I'm not sure he was supposed to confirm Davis's account, but here it is, courtesy of Josh Marshall at TPM:
As Josh notes, this preliminary meeting was held on June 7. 2016, and the intent of the meeting was to strategize about the actual meeting two days later. The fact that there was a strategy meeting indicates that the Trump Team was much more serious about the matter than they've let on. You might recall how after the news broke, the Trumps made it seem as if it was a big nothing -- a brief meet-and-greet with a bit of conversation about Russian adoptions. The truly interesting detail about the pre-meeting meeting was the fact that later the same day, again, Tuesday June 7, Trump announced during a primary victory speech that he'd be announcing a huge tranche of dirt about Hillary Clinton on the following Monday, which would've been June 13, four days after the actual Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. Again, how would Trump know there'd be a forthcoming tidal wave of scandalous material about Hillary before the June 9 meeting, unless, that is, he knew about the planned meeting in advance, as Michael Cohen asserted publicly last week? Obviously, Trump knew and is lying about it. How do I know? Trump lies about everything. But when we stir these other details into the mix, it becomes an increasingly flimsy lie. And if Trump was aware of the meeting and allowed it to move forward with the intention of using stolen documents, seized by Russian GRU hackers as part of a broader cyber-war against America, then Trump most certainly colluded -- strike that, Trump was a willing criminal co-conspirator in Putin's attack. One last thing. Apparently, Rick Gates attended the pre-meeting meeting. Rick Gates is also cooperating with Mueller's investigators, meaning he'd be able to corroborate Cohen's -- and now Rudy's -- accusation that Trump knew in advance. Call it collusion or call it a conspiracy, it doesn't really matter. Mueller will apply the correct legal statute to the crime, and it looks increasingly likely that Trump himself is guilty.