Giuliani’s Sunday talking point: ‘There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians’

The Sunday shows exist so that powerful people can dispense the week's preferred talking points. It has been unfortunate, for the most part, in that it has revealed most of the nation's most powerful people to be distinctly not too bright, and dishonest as a class. Which brings us, inevitably, to Rudy Giuliani.

Former New York Mayor turned Trump butler Giuliani leapt in front of the cameras this particular week to insist that the redacted Mueller report, which laid out an obsessive pattern of obstruction and a Trump campaign that was only too eager to solicit the products of a foreign espionage effort, was both a nasty piece of work and of no particular consequence. To CNN's Jake Tapper, Giuliani claimed Mueller's team "tortured" Trump campaign head Paul Manafort by interviewing and imprisoning in, and blasted Mueller deputy Andrew Weissman as "a hit man" and an "unethical prosecutor", proclaiming that Mueller "put together a staff of Hillary loving, Trump-hating people."

As for what Mueller's team of apparent vicious "Hillary loving, Trump-hating people" found, Giuliani that all of it Was Legal Now. That would be his talking point of the day, suggesting that the White House (and wider Republican) strategy will be to insist that foreign intelligence services are allowed to interfere in United States elections, and Republican candidates are allowed to solicit and use stolen information from those efforts in their campaigns.

“There's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians," Giuliani said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

Taking information from, as Jake Tapper emphasized, "a foreign source, a hostile foreign source?"

"Who's to say it's even illegal?"

To NBC's Chuck Todd, Giuliani was no less combative.

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Trump and Barr bring three decades of GOP criminality full circle

Historical events occur twice, Karl Marx famously said, first as tragedy and then as farce. But when it comes to the rampant lawlessness of Republican presidential administrations, the record is a succession of national tragedies for the United States. And the damage to America’s democratic institutions is no laughing matter. As President Trump, his attorney general, and their allies in right-wing media demonstrated this week in their thus far very successful effort to suppress the Mueller report, the Republican Scandal Defense Machine™ has featured many of the same odious operatives, sham sound bites, and laughable legal theories since the late 1980s. From the Iran-Contra affair, the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, and President George W. Bush’s purge of U.S. attorneys to his regime of detainee torture, and now the Trump-Russia imbroglio, only the stakes have changed.

For starters, consider the role of Attorney General William Barr. Trump, after all, hired Barr precisely because of—and not despite—his 2017 memo, which argued that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was “grossly irresponsible” and “fatally misconceived,” and risked “grave consequences far beyond the immediate confines of this case and would do lasting damage to the presidency and to the administration of law within the executive branch.” That opposition, echoed by many Republicans in the spring of 2017, sounds eerily similar to the language used by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Tom DeLay and others in initially refusing to support the creation of the 9/11 Commission. And when Barr warned, “Mueller’s sweeping obstruction theory would now open the way for the ‘criminalization’ of these [political] disputes,” he was only dusting off the talking point President George H.W. Bush debuted to defend Iran-Contra pardons that he and Barr engineered 25 years earlier.

But Barr’s 21st-century reprisal of his role as GOP legal hatchet man isn’t merely rhetorical. The same attorney general who in his March 24 letter and again in his highly redacted version of the Mueller report promised to share its “principal conclusions” lied to Congress 30 years ago when he made the same pledge. As Ryan Goodman documented this week, as head of the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, Barr refused to release a memo justifying the supposed legality of the FBI’s power to abduct foreigners (like Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega) and bring them to the United States without consent from the leaders of those countries. Wrong on both the facts and the law, Barr shared only his summary of the secret memo in written testimony to Congress. As Goodman explained, worse than what Barr misrepresented was what he omitted altogether.

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