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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Floating possible future defenses, Rudy Giuliani is invoking Republican overreach against Bill Clinton in arguing that President Trump's use of hush money during the campaign is "a non-crime."

What he's saying: The comparison, Giuliani told me, is "an extraordinary intrusion into what we regard as our private lives."

  • "The law says that if there's another purpose [for the payment], it's not a campaign contribution," Giuliani said. "Here, the purpose was to protect you against your wife. Protect her from embarrassment. Protect your family from embarrassment. Protect your business from embarrassment."
  • "Members of Congress use campaign funds to settle harassment claims," Giuliani added. "They're going to be the ones to impeach him?"

Giuliani recalled that he was the Republican mayor of New York when House Republicans impeached Bill Clinton in 1998. He thought that his party was making "a critical error" by making it a partisan issue.

  • "Bill Clinton used it very well against us," Giuliani said. "We ultimately got killed [politically], and should have."

Giuliani said the Trump hush money issue is "less serious," because Clinton "committed a definable crime," perjury.

  • Giuliani argues that Michael Cohen's "payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, whether the president knew or didn't know, there's nothing illegal about them."
  • Giuliani said a closer comparison than Clinton is the case of former Democratic candidate John Edwards, who in 2012 was cleared of corruption charges after he used campaign funds to hide an affair.
  • "He didn't want his wife to know," Giuliani said. "'He didn't want [Rielle Hunter] to go public and embarrass him. All those reasons exist in the Trump situation."

Reality check: Federal prosecutors say Trump directed illegal payments to ward off a sex scandal, and many experts believe he knowingly violated campaign-finance law.

Giuliani describes the investigation as concentric circles, starting with collusion, then moving to obstruction, on to campaign finance and now "prior business deals."

  • "We’re now three degrees of separation from collusion, and we ain’t found a crime yet," he said. "This is an investigation of a man in search of a crime, and they haven’t found one."
  • "When a man becomes president, he shouldn’t be subject to a review of his entire life."
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Go deeper

Pelosi condemns GOP lawmakers for downplaying Jan. 6 Capitol attack

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday tore into Republican members of Congress who downplayed the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot during a House hearing on Wednesday, telling reporters: "I don't know [of] a normal day around here when people are threatening to hang the vice president."

Why it matters: House lawmakers are currently in negotiations over forming a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission to examine the attack and the events that led up to it.

Trial for ex-officers charged with abetting Floyd murder delayed until 2022

The memorial in George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 21. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged by state prosecutors with aiding and abetting the murder of George Floyd has been moved to March 7, 2022, AP reports.

Why it matters: Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said he wanted to move the date from Aug. 23 to accommodate a new federal case against the officers and Derek Chauvin, who has already been convicted on state charges for Floyd's murder.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Colonial pipeline hack: Key takeaways from Biden's first energy crisis

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Restoration of the Colonial Pipeline, the huge East Coast gasoline artery, is the beginning of the end of a crisis that prompted a White House logistical and political scramble.

Catch up fast: Late Wednesday afternoon, Colonial began a restart of the 5,500-mile line that shut down nearly a week ago after a ransomware attack.

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