Rudy Giuliani, who as President Donald Trump’s attorney has stoutly defended his client’s actions throughout every twist and turn of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, insisted on Sunday “there’s nothing wrong” with a White House candidate accepting help from Russia.
The former New York mayor was asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” program to respond to Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) scathing criticism of Trump following the release of Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s report on the interference. Romney said he was appalled that the president’s campaign team “welcomed help from Russia.”
Giuliani called Romney, who ran for president in 2008 and 2012 and in the later years was the GOP nominee, a “hypocrite,” and he defended the use by a campaign of information obtained illegally by a foreign power.
“There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians... It depends on where it comes from,” he said.
Without citing evidence, he then accused Romney of doing similar things as a White House contender.
“I could tell you the things he wanted to do... Stop this pious act that you weren’t trying to dig up dirt on people,” Giuliani said.
“Any candidate in the whole world in America would take information,” he continued. “I’d like to take a good look at Romney’s campaign and see if there are any moral or unethical things done by the people working for him that he didn’t know about. If there weren’t, then it was the only campaign in history.”
“State of the Union” host Jake Tapper pressed Giuliani on whether, as a candidate, he would accept information from Russians damaging to a challenger.
“I probably wouldn’t. I wasn’t asked” about that by the Trump campaign, Giuliani responded. “I would have advised, just out of an excess of caution, don’t do it.”
But he added that in doing so, “there’s no crime.”
He then said, “We’re going to get into morality? That isn’t what prosecutors look at — morality.”
Some of the Mueller report’s most damning findings about the president’s campaign were that Trump tried to cover up the now-infamous meeting in mid-2016 at New York’s Trump Tower between Russian agents and members of his inner circle. The report also said that as president, Trump asked aides to interfere with Mueller’s investigation ― which could be construed as obstruction of justice.
Romney, one of the few vocal GOP critics of Trump’s administration, said that though he was happy the findings didn’t justify charging the president with any crimes, he was “sickened” by the report’s various revelations.
“I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President,” Romney wrote.
Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a separate Sunday interview on CNN he was alarmed by the message the president’s attorney was sending to future candidates that it’s “right and proper and American” to accept help from a foreign adversary.
“That’s an extraordinary statement and I would hope he would retract it,” Bharara said.