President Donald Trump‘s attorney Rudy Giuliani reacted on Thursday to this week’s news that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was accused of lying about sharing 2016 polling data with a Russian said to have ties to Russian intelligence.
Giuliani downplayed the situation, telling the New York Daily News, “Polling data is not a state secret.”
“You can hand it out to anybody you want, nothing wrong with that,” he said. “It’s a joke. He gave out polling data, so what?” Giuliani admitted “you shouldn’t be talking to people like,” namely, accused criminals with connections to Russian intelligence.
“But [Manafort] only gave him polling data. That’s handed out all the time. Everybody has polling data,” Giuliani continued. “You have to be a real jackass to not know that.”
Manafort’s attorneys, who have said there’s no proof Manafort “lied intentionally” to special counsel Robert Mueller, said that their client needed his memory jogged when it came to discussions he had with his Ukrainian lobbying associate Konstantin Kilimnik. Kilimnik was slapped with charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice for allegedly attempting to tamper with witnesses.
Team Manafort actually spilled the beans on the poll data detail by failing to redact information.
Legal experts have already argued that this data exchange was “collusive” in the non-legal sense of the word. CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, for example, argued that this could be a crime, as it is a “federal crime to solicit or attempt to receive foreign election aid.”
“More technically and legally, this could go to the crime of soliciting foreign election contributions or assistance. The argument would be that Manafort shared this info to enable Russians to hone and target their dissemination of hacked emails and their social media trolling efforts – clearly a benefit (technically a contribution) to Trump’s campaign,” he said.
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said that the poll data hand-out was “suggestive of a possible crime.”
Giuliani claims that it's no big deal that Manafort gave internal polling data to a Russian intelligence operative. He's wrong. As I told @C_Sommerfeldt, “It’s just like wearing a ski mask walking into a bank. Not a crime but suggestive of a possible crime.” https://t.co/IDuobSgkUb
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) January 11, 2019
[Image via Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images]