Some conservative media figures are claiming it’s not a crime for a U.S. presidential candidate to collude with the Russian government.
On Fox News Sunday, host Brit Hume said colluding with a foreign government to influence an election would “obviously be alarming and highlight inappropriate.” But, he said, “it’s not a crime.”
The investigation into Russian influence in the U.S. election “has never been described as a criminal investigation,” he said. “Do we all now believe that it has now become a criminal investigation?”
A few days earlier, Fox News host Sean Hannity, an avid Trump supporter, made a similar case to his audience. Even if the Trump campaign did encourage Russia to hack former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign officials, “is that a crime?” Hannity said. “I never understood it anyway. What was the collusion? … Is that a crime to say ‘release it’? to show the truth?”
The Democratic-aligned media research group Media Matters is keeping a log of conservative pundits who’ve begun to make the case that collusion does not constitute a crime. It was their research that identified the trend, including in a tweet on Monday morning:
The comments come as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between President Trump’s campaign associates and Russia intensifies.
Trump and his allies have insisted there is no proof of collusion between his campaign and Russian hackers who promoted fake news stories and dumped hacked emails from Clinton’s campaign chairman with the intent of trying to hurt her and help get Trump elected.
When Attorney General Jeff Sessions was asked in testimony earlier this month before the Senate Intelligence Committee if collusion would be “improper and illegal,” Sessions said: “absolutely.”
Last month, when Fox News host Greg Jarrett made the claim that collusion does not constitute a crime, PolitiFact did a fact check.
On May 30, Jarrett said “collusion is not a crime, only an antitrust law. You can collude all you want with a foreign government in an election. There’s no such…