We have now gone from months of confident proclamations from President Donald Trump of “NO COLLUSION” to the much meeker “Collusion is not a crime.”Indeed, it was only Monday that the President’s leading mouthpiece, Rudy Giuliani, moved the goalposts 50 yards in a rambling, semi-coherent interview on CNN, saying, “They’re not going to be colluding with Russia, which I don’t even know if that’s a crime.”
Giuliani’s retreat does little to help his or the President’s credibility, but it was already near rock bottom with the series of factual misstatements and legally preposterous assertions that have been his modus operandi since rejoining Team Trump.
The fact is, however, he’s actually right this time. Maybe the reason collusion isn’t a crime is, in large part, because that word is not in the federal code book and it means different things to different people.
If you take the dictionary meaning, it seems clear enough: collusion is a “secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose.”
But as many commentators, including me, have been trying to point out, the word and legal concept that we should always have been using here is “conspiracy.”
Hopefully, with Giuliani’s latest prevarication, we can adjust the legal debate to where it should be, namely focused on whether Trump and his close associates could be properly charged with criminal conspiracy.