President Trump said “it’s not a crime” for his 2016 election campaign to collude with Russia despite such interaction never happening.
“I watched Alan Dershowitz the other day, he said, No. 1, there is no collusion, No. 2, collusion is not a crime, but even if it was a crime, there was no collusion,” he told The New York Times Thursday, referencing the lawyer and media personality.
“And he said that very strongly,” Trump continued. “He said there was no collusion. And he has studied this thing very closely. I’ve seen him a number of times.”
“There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime. But there’s no collusion. I don’t even go that far.”
Dershowitz earlier this month argued that Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey was not obstruction of justice as the president has a right to fire the bureau’s leader.
One of Trump’s top lawyers earlier this month charged that it does not matter if Trump campaign members colluded with Russia as “there is no crime of collusion.”
“For something to be a crime, there has to be a statue that you claim is violated,” Jay Sekulow told The New Yorker.
“There is not a statue that refers to criminal collusion,” he added. “There is no crime of collusion.”
Trump’s remarks come amid Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller’s probe includes possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign, and it can also investigate related matters that appear, such as the crime of obstruction of justice.
Trump sacked Comey last May amid the FBI’s examination of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Comey testified in June that he believes Trump directed him to end the FBI’s scrutiny of Flynn before his ouster.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” he told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Comey was quoting Trump off a memo detailing a meeting earlier in the year between both men in the Oval Office.
Flynn pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to the FBI about his past conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Flynn’s guilty plea sparked renewed debate over whether Trump possibly obstructed justice by canning Comey.