Cooperation, collusion, conspiracy, and the constant game of redefining what Trump can get away with

On Wednesday evening, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani conducted another of his numerous goalpost adjustments—this time by just carrying them right off the field. In an interview with CNN, Giuliani responded to challenges over the latest revelations about Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort by saying that he never said something that he’d said dozens, if not hundreds, of times. 

Giuliani: I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.

Except, of course, he has. And after claiming that he never said “no collusion,” Giuliani went on to make an even more eye-rolling claim: Neither has Donald Trump.

According to Giuliani, what Trump meant in the 60 tweets in which he’s said “no collusion,” often in all caps and accompanied by one or more exclamation points, wasn’t that there was no collusion by anyone in his campaign. After all, how could Donald Trump hope to know what the rest of the people in his campaign might be doing? Nope. Every time Giuliani, or Trump, or Sarah Sanders, or Kellyanne Conway, or any of the whole toxic ecosystem of Trump surrogates bellowed “no collusion,” what they really meant was that Donald Trump, personally, was not conspiring with Russia. Except … that’s still too broad a definition. Because what Giuliani claims was meant by that phrase is much, much narrower than just “Donald Trump wasn’t talking to Russia for fun and/or profit.” What he meant was this:

Giuliani: There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you could commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack the DNC.

That’s not just moving the goalposts downfield. That’s redefining the target of any investigation down to the one crime that Rudy is certain—or at least, fairly certain—that Trump did not commit.  As the Washington Post reports, this isn’t the first time that Team Trump has tried to redefine one of Trump’s most frequent statements, but it is the most ridiculous.

Read more: