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President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani said on CNN's "State of the Union" that "any candidate in the whole world" would accept negative information on their campaign opponent, and that there's "nothing wrong with taking information from Russians."

"Mitt Romney did something very similar to that. There's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians. It depends on where it came from. You're assuming that the giving of information is a campaign contribution. Read the report carefully. The report says we can't conclude that because the law is pretty much against that. ... There's no crime. We're going to get into morality???"

Reality check: Giuliani called Sen. Mitt Romney "a hypocrite" for saying it's appalling that members of the Trump campaign "welcomed help from Russia" and chose not to inform American law enforcement. He suggested Romney's campaign took similar actions, but did not provide any evidence for his claims.

It is illegal under FEC law for a campaign to solicit or accept contributions from a foreign national. Mueller determined in his report that he couldn't charge the participants of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting — including Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort — with violating a ban on contributions and donations by foreign nationals for 2 reasons:

  • First, Mueller said he likely could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump Jr. and the others "acted 'willfully,' i.e. with general knowledge of the illegality of their conduct."
  • Second, Mueller likely could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the "value of promised information exceeded the threshold for a criminal violation."

The big picture: Giuliani's interview on CNN was one of 3 television appearances he did on Sunday morning. As President Trump rages on Twitter and in private about the former White House employees who provided damaging information to the special counsel, Giuliani and Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway have taken to the cable news circuit to try to win in the court of public opinion.

  • Both Giuliani and Conway falsely claimed that the Mueller report has fully exonerated the president. When pressed on Mueller's decision not to explicitly clear the president of wrongdoing, both deflected by calling into question the credibility of Mueller's investigators and the witnesses they interviewed.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
22 mins ago - Economy & Business

The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
42 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.

U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market continues to recover even as coronavirus cases surge— though it's still millions of jobs short of the pre-pandemic level. The problem is that the rate of recovery is slowing significantly.

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