For many months, the Trump administration maintained that it "did not collude with Russia" during the 2016 election campaign. Now that so much evidence to the contrary is publicly available, Trump and his team have are now accepting the fact that they colluded, but are now attempting to claim that collusion is "not a crime".
Last week, Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani trotted out this line as a sort of litmus test -- could they do an about turn without anyone really noticing? It turns out they could, as Trump's cult followers didn't bat an eyelid and continued their war against "The Deep State" and the Clinton Foundation etc, etc. As it becomes clear that Donald Trump Jr. could actually be in real trouble for trying getting dirt on Clinton from a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya, Trump is continuing to shift the goal posts with statements like this:
Given Trump ex-lawyer Michael Cohen has confirmed that Trump did know about the meeting in advance, we can be almost certain that this story is going to change again. At first, the Trump team maintained that the focus of the meeting was on Russia's halt in the US adoption of Russian children. Now it was in order to work with Russia on bringing down Hillary Clinton, but given collusion is no longer technically a crime, they were in fact, attempting to collude with Russia as originally thought.
The New York Times summarized the Trump team's legal quandary as follows:
President Trump said on Sunday that a Trump Tower meeting between top campaign aides and a Kremlin-connected lawyer was designed to “get information on an opponent” — the starkest acknowledgment yet that a statement he dictated last year about the encounter was misleading.
Mr. Trump made the comment
Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics - and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018
" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in a tweet on Sunday morning that was intended to be a defense of the June 2016 meeting and the role his son Donald Trump Jr. played in hosting it. The president claimed that it was “totally legal” and of the sort “done all the time in politics.” But the tweet also served as an admission that the Trump team had not been forthright when Donald Trump Jr. issued a statement in July 2017 saying that the meeting had been primarily about the adoption of Russian children.
Importantly, the Times notes that, "It is illegal for a campaign to accept help from a foreign individual or government." "The president and his son have maintained that the campaign did not ultimately receive any damaging materials about Mrs. Clinton as a result of the meeting," the report went on. "But some legal experts contend that by simply sitting for the meeting, Donald Trump Jr. broke the law." Whether or not Trump Jr's meeting will can be considered criminal, we now know for certain that Trump's story about the meeting has changed, proving once again that he has on multiple occasions, attempted to obstruct justice. Under normal circumstances, this shambolic legal defense would result in the rapid demise of any sitting president. But in the era of Trump and the shameful compliance of the Republican Party, literally anything is permissible -- even openly colluding with a foreign government to subvert the democratic process, then lying through your teeth about it.