In the aftermath of President Donald Trump being implicated in felonies for illegal hush payments by a judge, prosecutors, and his longtime personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani has retreated to the talking point that campaign finance crimes are really no big deal.
From the Daily Beast:
“Nobody got killed, nobody got robbed. … This was not a big crime,” Giuliani told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. He added, sardonically, “I think in two weeks they’ll start with parking tickets that haven’t been paid.”
This talking point represents quite the departure for Giuliani, who as New York City mayor in the 1990s championed “broken windows” policing — an approach premised on the idea that even minor crimes like graffiti and turnstile jumping are big deals warranting punishment to the fullest extent of the law. But now that he’s serving as Trump’s personal attorney, Giuliani thinks felonies are not “big crimes.”
Crimes aren’t crimes, says Trump
While it’s true that “nobody got killed” as a result of the hush payments Trump apparently directed to two women who said they had affairs with him, it’s not at all clear that they didn’t help Trump win the 2016 election.
The payments helped Trump hush up potential sex scandals in the weeks leading up to the presidential election — a time in which the Access Hollywood tape and a string of sexual assault allegations put Trump’s treatment of women under a spotlight. The payments mostly succeeded in keeping the Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels stories out of the press before the election, and Trump went on to narrowly prevail over Hillary Clinton.
While Giuliani tries to downplay the significance of Trump using illegal payments to keep voters in the dark about his affairs, the president has resorted to making the false assertion that the felonies his longtime personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to and was sentenced to three years in prison for “were not criminal.”
Giuliani echoed Trump’s false talking point on Friday morning. In a tweet, the president’s attorney denied saying what the Daily Beast quoted him as saying, clarifying that his position is that campaign finance crimes aren’t crimes.
CORRECTION: I didn’t say payments were not a big crime. I have said consistently that the Daniels and McDougall payments are not crimes and tweeted a great article yesterday making that point . If it isn’t a witch-hunt why are they pursuing a non-crime.— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) December 14, 2018
Trump hasn’t always had such a sanguine view of campaign finance violations, however. Just over a year ago, he baselessly accused Clinton of a “Major violation of Campaign Finance Laws” and asked his Department of Justice to investigate.
....This is real collusion and dishonesty. Major violation of Campaign Finance Laws and Money Laundering - where is our Justice Department?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2017