Rudy Giuliani: When I Said There Was ‘No Collusion’ I Didn’t Mean There Was No Collusion

Once again, Rudy Giuliani is contradicting his client.

Last night, President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared  to contradict both himself and the President on the issue of whether or not there was collusion or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia:

Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that he never denied President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign, only that the President himself was not involved in collusion.

In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “Cuomo Prime Time,” Giuliani, a former New York mayor and Trump’s attorney, said he doesn’t know if other people in the campaign, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, were working with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential race.
“I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign,” Giuliani said.

He added, “I said the President of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the President of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack the DNC.”

It’s another remarkable statement from Giuliani, given that the President and his supporters have repeatedly denied any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. A person familiar with the matter told CNN last week that Manafort, while serving as Trump’s campaign chairman, tried to send internal polling data from the Trump campaign with two Kremlin-supporting Ukrainian oligarchs through his associate Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national who is linked to Russian intelligence.

When Cuomo asked if Manafort sharing such data with foreign agents constituted collusion, Giuliani said Trump never shared the polling data himself and only found out about it recently in the news.

“Donald Trump wasn’t giving polling data to anyone,” Giuliani said, adding, “he did not know about it until it was revealed a few weeks ago in an article.”

Giuliani attempted Thursday morning to clean up his remarks, telling CNN’s Dana Bash that he did not intend to send any new signals regarding the Trump legal team’s understanding of the investigation.

“The President did not himself, nor does he have any knowledge of collusion with Russians. If anyone was doing that, he is unaware of it and so am I,” Giuliani said. “But neither he nor I can possibly know what everyone on the campaign was doing.”

Giuliani said collusion is not a crime and the term is now being used broadly to describe contact with Russians.

“I can’t possibly say no one had contact about something or in some way,” he said

Giuliani then went on to say that the President himself never said that there was no collusion between anyone on the campaign and Russia, but as The Washington Post notes, that simply isn’t true:

In December 2017, Trump adamantly told reporters outside the White House that there was “absolutely no collusion, that has been proven.”

On Twitter, the president has been even more passionate when defending himself and his campaign, repeatedly using words such as “hoax” and “witch hunt” to describe the accusations and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s ongoing probe.

Just last month, the president tweeted, “‘Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion.'”

The Post’s Aaron Blake details a number of other incidents in which the President or other members of his Administration denied that anyone, whether it was the President or anyone connected to the campaign, colluded or conspired with the Russians during the campaign, as does the original CNN report. In any case, it’s simply incorrect for Giuliani to deny that the President has never said that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, such denials have been at the forefront of his “defense” against the Mueller investigation and the basis for his charge that the investigation is, in fact, a “witch hunt.” In fact, in response to the entire allegation, the President has often alleged that the “real” collusion was between the Clinton campaign and the Russians, a bizarre campaign for which there is, of course, no evidence except perhaps in the President’s own mind.

The most significant thing about Giuliani’s comments, of course, is that he is essentially admitting that there was or at least may have been collusion or coordination between Trump campaign officials and Russians. Given all the previous denials, this is certainly a surprising revelation from the public face of the President’s legal team, but given what we already knew it’s not really surprising at all. Most recently, for example, we learned that while he was Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort shared campaign polling data from inside the campaign with Ukrainian oligarchs with ties to the Kremlin. As many analysts have suggested, this is the kind of data that Russia itself would have found very useful in its efforts to target areas of the country and demographic groups as part of its online campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 campaign, something for which Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted twelve Russians and a number of Russian companies last February.

Perhaps the most famous, or infamous, example of collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russians, though, came in June 2016 when, as the The New York Times first reported campaign insiders including Donald Trump Jt., Jared Kushner, and Manafort and a Russian lawyer named Natalia  Veselnitskaya, a Russian attorney who had previously been linked to the Russian government and who has since admitted to being an informant for the Russian Government. As we learned several days later when Trump Jr. made the emails he had exchanged with campaign officials prior to the meeting public, the meeting was scheduled after Trump Jr. and others in the campaign were told that  Veselnitskaya had access to damaging information about Hillary Clinton. In one of those emails, Trump Jr. responded “That’s great” when informed that the lawyer had access to damaging information about Clinton and the Democrats. Later, Veselnitskaya said in interviews that Trump Jr. offered a quid pro quo in exchange for information about Clinton.

When the meeting was first reported, though, both Trump Jr. and the White House claimed that the meeting’s purpose was to discuss issues such as the adoption of Russian orphans by Americans as well as sanctions imposed by Russia in the wake of its seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. That claim was made most prominently in a statement released by the White House while the President was returning from a visit to Europe. It soon became apparent, though, that this claim was false. This is significant because we learned soon after news of the meeting broke that the President himself participated in drafting that initial statement on the way home from a trip to Europe on Air Force One. On its surface, that statement seemed questionable since it didn’t make sense that three of Trump’s closest campaign advisers would take a meeting on such an esoteric topic. The fact that we now know it was false makes the President’s involvement in what may constitute an attempted cover-up extremely significant.  It is worth noting that Trump had previously stated that the meeting’s initial purpose was “opposition research,” however that admission came before we knew about the President’s role in drafting the White House statement that attempted to cover-up the motivation for the meeting.

So, yes, we do have evidence of collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russians, and one presumes that Robert Mueller has even more evidence. Despite that evidence, though, it had previously been consistent policy from people associated with the Trump campaign and the Trump Administration to deny that such collusion, which would be called conspiracy under the United States Code, took place. The reasons for that are obvious. Admitting even the possibility of collusion between some people working for the campaign and Russians would obviously lead to the question of what the President knew and when he knew it. This is most especially the case with regard to the Trump Tower meeting given the fact that we already know that the President’s son was in contact both before and after the meeting with someone who had a blocked cell phone number and that Trump has long been known to have such a blocked number. The question of who Trump Jr. called and what was communicated before he took the meeting and afterward is, of course, something that Mueller and his team would be interested to find out. Giuliani’s comments last night, which he has since attempted to walk back, go a long way toward undercutting the denial strategy that Trump, his Administration, and the other members of his legal team have been engaging in.

Of course, this isn’t the first example of a time when Rudy Giuliani contradicted previous statements by the campaign or the Administration. Last May, Giuliani, who had at that point only recently joined the President’s legal team, appeared on Fox News Channel and revealed, to the surprise of many, that not only did the President know about the payoff to Daniels but that he had reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 that was paid to Daniels. A week later, the President released an updated financial disclosure in which he acknowledged having reimbursed Cohen beginning late in 2016 and continuing into the beginning months of his time as President. These reports were later substantiated by the report that Cohen had recorded his conversations with the President regarding a separate payoff to Playboy model Karen McDougal, which took place at roughly the same time as the Daniels payment. Subsequently, of course, we learned that all of this and more was true thanks to Michael Cohen’s guilty plea.

 

 

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, Russia, Russia Investigation, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    “Everybody” knows that Giuliani is a disaster who is hurting Trump. But the assumption is that Trump is innocent and Giuliani is foolishly messing up the defense. But that’s an obviously incorrect assumption. As several of us have pointed out since before the election, Trump is guilty. Obviously guilty. And more and more people realize that every day. Given that fact,Perhaps Giuliani’s “clumsy” goalpost moving is making the best of a bad situation. Think about it. Giuliani needs to gradually move the Trumpoids and the Republican House Reps and Senators from “Trump didn’t do anything” to “Colluding with a foreign government and lying about it is not worthy of impeachment”. It’s a long road to push such a heavy load. Is it even possible to gracefully move goalposts that far?

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  2. James Pearce says:

    I’ve probably heard a hundred times over the last three “If any other politician did this, it would be the end of their career.” I have never thought it was Trump was such a badass.

    He’s a ridiculous, laughable person who has been blessed with feeble enemies.

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  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    It doesn’t matter that what Giuliani says is obvious nonsense, he knows, as Trump knows, that they’re talking to morons. They know their supporters are stupid. They can say or do anything they want because they are talking to cult members who’ve long-since abandoned any concern for truth or reality. They’ve driven a wedge into the IQ bell curve and they’re only interested in the lower third.

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  4. Kathy says:

    There’s a quotation attributed to Napoleon: Never interfere with an enemy while he’s in the process of destroying himself.

    Leave Rudy alone. 😀

  5. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The big question here is…what is it that Guiliani knows is coming, that he is trying to soften the landing for?

  6. Teve says:

    OT apparently Pelosi had an upcoming trip to Brussels and Afghanistan that was being kept secret for security purposes, and Trump just publicly released a letter saying that if he can’t have the State of the Union then he’s canceling her trip to Afghanistan. What the fuck.

  7. James Pearce says:

    @Teve:

    What the fuck.

    Despite being in their 70s, we elected children to run our government.

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  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    I’m guessing (hoping?) an indictment of Don Jr.

    It could be they’re finally ready to throw Manafort under the bus, but doubtful: Manafort is Deripaska’s boy, which makes him Putin’s boy, as is Trump. Manafort and Putin are stablemates in Putin’s corral.

    But it could be any number of people looking at indictments: Jared, Ivanka, Eric if a court finds him mentally competent to be charged as an adult.

  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    No, we, the majority of voters, chose a competent grown-up; 46% of voters chose the single worst person ever to occupy the Oval. You’re not spreading the guilt onto us, pal, it’s all on you and your fellow Trumpoids.

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  10. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    I’m guessing he can’t cancel the Speaker’s trip. This just makes him look impotent and childish.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Pelosi’s petty retaliatory move* was met with a petty retaliatory move from Trump. They’re a bunch of checkers players who think they’re chessmasters because they keep saying “Checkmate.”

    * You thought it was a power move? Of course you did.

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  12. James Pearce says:

    @Kathy:

    This just makes him look impotent and childish.

    What do you think canceling the SOTU looked like?

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  13. Kylopod says:
  14. Gustopher says:

    Meanwhile, 40 some odd Republicans in the Senate voted to block efforts to block the Trump administration from relaxing sanctions on the Russian oligarch that Manafort was giving updates on the 2016 election.

    Given what we know, I think we have to conclude that those 40 some odd Republicans are helping Trump pay his debts for the Russia collusion. They are, to use the common definition, traitors.

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  15. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce: The great power that the Republican Party has discovered is that if you just have no shame, you can get away with a lot. Voters, at least Republican voters, are more likely to put party first.

    Trump got elected, despite everyone knowing he was a scumbag.

    Roy Moore came within a hairs breadth of being elected, despite his insanely creepy behavior with underage and barely of age girls.

    The list goes on. Somewhere, there are all the disgraced Republicans who resigned, drinking themselves to death wondering why they ever resigned.

  16. Kathy says:

    @James Pearce:

    What do you think canceling the SOTU looked like?

    Gee, James, I don’t know. It hasn’t been cancelled.

  17. Joe says:

    @Kathy:

    I think we’ll find out if he can cancel it, but he can make publicize it in advance and thus make it much less safe. I suppose he can also interfere in her security. She may go anyway – that would be epic.

  18. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:
    I think he can refuse military transport.

  19. EddieInCA says:

    @James Pearce:

    Dude! Stop it.

    All Pelosi has to say is “”I agree with you 100%, Mr. President. I will not go on that trip, so I can focus on the Shutdown, which you, yourself, said you would own and be responsible for. There are two bi-partisian bills already passed to reopen the government, which you refuse to sign. I look forward to your signing these bills so the good people being hurt can return to work and get paid for it.”*

    Also, you know who the first to criticize Trump on twitter about his cancellation of Pelosi’s trip? That lefty Lindsey Graham.

    https://twitter.com/LindseyGrahamSC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1085990337208872960&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fhotair.com%2Farchives%2F2019%2F01%2F17%2Frevenge-trump-postpones-pelosis-foreign-trip-sotu-snub%2F

    *copied and altered from someone on HotAir.

  20. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    That sounds plausible. And it might make getting to Afghanistan impossible. But there are plenty of options for going to Brussels, which as far as I know presents no major security risks.

  21. James Pearce says:

    @Gustopher:

    The great power that the Republican Party has discovered is that if you just have no shame, you can get away with a lot.

    Actually, I think the lesson they’ve learned is that shame is a very blunt weapon in our guilt-based society.

    @Kathy:

    It hasn’t been cancelled.

    Oh, right…it was just more “I wanna look tough but don’t want do anything of consequence” weaselry?

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  22. James Pearce says:

    @EddieInCA:

    That lefty Lindsey Graham.

    The one currently getting gay-shamed by the first Somali American to Congress?

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  23. Kathy says:

    @James Pearce:

    Goal post moving at warp nine off the starboard bow.

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  24. EddieInCA says:

    @James Pearce:

    What? Can you please stick to ONE topic? WTF are you blathering about now?

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  25. dmichael says:

    I mean this as a seri0us question: What is Giuliani doing? I had understood that he is attempting to “taint the jury pool” by promoting the idea that whatever Trump has done is not worthy of impeachment. I also understand that Trump likes to see him go on TV and bash his opponents. But any objective observer should find his behavior bizarre and contradictory. This is in addition to his weird facial expressions that make him look like “Gouliani.” What am I missing?

  26. James Pearce says:

    @EddieInCA:

    WTF are you blathering about now?

    Outside the bubble stuff. Sorry.

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  27. Moosebreath says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Since Pearce is not explaining himself, this may.

  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    You’re so tedious. Just wait. That’s what I told @Guarneri when he kept denying collusion: just wait, and now Giuliani has validated the accusation on behalf of Trump. ‘No collusion’ became ‘collusion isn’t illegal’ and has now become, ‘OK, there was collusion but somehow Trump didn’t know about it.’ Coming soon: ‘OK, Trump directly colluded but he’s president/caudillo so it must be legal.’

    I’ve been nothing but right from Day One. Right, right, right and right again.

    But I understand, you need to believe the big alpha daddy will crush the bitchez cuz boys are cool and girls are icky. And somehow your own fragile masculinity is on the line. Fine, dude, whatever. Just wait.

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  29. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I think the next logical step is that some of Trump’s spawn, or Kushner, are about to get hit with proof of collusion.

    Either that, or this Groucho Marx quote can be applied to Giuliani: “This man may talk like an idiot and look like an idiot. But don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.”

  30. gVOR08 says:

    It occurs to me that the people who lock themselves into the RW news bubble are missing out on a lot of entertainment. Mitt the human chameleon, Donnie the child president impersonator, Rudy the clown.

  31. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: where is guarneri these days? 😛

  32. EddieInCA says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Moosebreath says:
    Thursday, January 17, 2019 at 17:14

    @EddieInCA:

    Since Pearce is not explaining himself, this may.

    Oh, I knew all about that. What I want to know is what is has to do with THIS discussion?

  33. mattbernius says:

    @Teve:
    He just popped in for a moment on the Pelosi post to offer his “wisdom” with a bit of a nonsequiter.

  34. grumpy realist says:

    @Teve: He’s the doofus pretending to be “Resistance Ron” on these threads.

    I recognised his foul stench when I came on board….

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  35. Mikey says:

    @EddieInCA:

    WTF are you blathering about now?

    What he always blathers about: spreading FUD on the Democrats and pushing the Trumpist position while pretending he’s not.

  36. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I recognised his foul stench when I came on board….

    Was he also holding Vader’s leash? 😉

  37. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:

    The one currently getting gay-shamed by the first Somali American to Congress?

    Call.

    James, can you point out where she ever said directly anything about his being gay?

    Or are you, Mr “there’s no way that’s racism” are accusing her of an implied dog whistle?

    I’m not talking about what others said she said… I’m talking about what she literally said.

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  38. wr says:

    @mattbernius: It doesn’t matter what she said. To Pearce she’s a member of the inferior sex and the inferior race daring to criticize a white man. She must be stopped, and therefore any crap he can make up is fair game.

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  39. James Pearce says:

    Michael Reynolds:

    I’ve been nothing but right from Day One.

    Tedious as it may be, you should retain space in your mind for the possibility that Trump will end up being exonerated on the collusion stuff. Not saying that it will happen. But it could, and if it does, you should be prepared.

    @EddieInCA:

    What I want to know is what is has to do with THIS discussion?

    It was brought up after Lindsey Graham’s both-sidesism was mentioned.

    @Mikey:

    spreading FUD on the Democrats and pushing the Trumpist position while pretending he’s not.

    You’re ceding waaaay too much ground to the “Trumpist position,” dude.

    @mattbernius:

    Or are you, Mr “there’s no way that’s racism” are accusing her of an implied dog whistle?

    Perhaps, then, she didn’t mean the implication (which people took anyway; those rumors are pervasive) and instead was just suggesting that her colleague was a Russian spy.

    Either way, rookie move.

  40. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    You’re ceding waaaay too much ground to the “Trumpist position,” dude

    I’m ceding nothing, just pointing out why you’re here.

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  41. An Interested Party says:

    Tedious as it may be, you should retain space in your mind for the possibility that Trump will end up being exonerated on the collusion stuff. Not saying that it will happen. But it could, and if it does, you should be prepared.

    I suppose Mueller and his team have been working all this time just for shits and giggles…nothing to see here, folks, move along…

  42. Teve says:

    Chris Hayes
    @chrislhayes

    If I were Trump, Ivanka or Don Jr, this would make my blood run cold:

    “The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through…internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”

  43. Teve says:

    BuzzFeed is reporting that Trump straight up told Cohen to lie to Congress about deals in Russia.

  44. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    Big up-vote for the Marx Brothers reference. Duck Soup is 90 years old and it’s still funny and still awfully good political satire.

  45. JohnSF says:

    Could this be what Giuliani was trying to prepare for:
    Article by Jason Leopold and Antthony Cormier at Buzzfeed

    President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project

    Also

    sources said Cohen gave Trump’s children “very detailed updates.”

    Anyone got views on reliability levels for Buzzfeed and these reporters?
    If this is definite then it’s got to be obstruction & conspiracy open and shut.

  46. Mikey says:

    @Teve: The Trumpists will try to smear Cohen and say he’s lying, but of course Mueller has the receipts.

  47. JohnMcC says:

    @JohnSF: Funny how just yesterday the Pres’ lawyer Mr Giuliani changed the lyrics of his favorite tune just a little bit to allow for the possibility for ‘collusion’ by the ‘campaign staff’. And now this Buzzfeed report, eh? Whaddayaknow?

  48. Teve says:

    @JohnSF: Chris Hayes says they’re good reporters.

  49. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    IMO, Groucho was a comedy genius.

  50. James Pearce says:

    @JohnSF:

    Anyone got views on reliability levels for Buzzfeed and these reporters?

    Be skeptical.

  51. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @JohnSF:

    Anyone got views on reliability levels for Buzzfeed and these reporters?

    They broke the Steele Dossier news, didn’t they?

  52. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: A few months ago I pulled up the Contract gag (“There ain’t no Sanity Clause!”) on youtube to show my son, and I realized movies have changed so much since then that it didn’t make much of an impression on him. A big part is the pacing. Modern movies are frenetic in comparison to that era, and today even a low key movie would have had a dozen cuts or more in that time frame. And a lot of those cuts are about telling you how to react. That Contract scene is basically shot from head on from a stationary camera and the few cuts in there were probably done for the sake of weaving in multiple takes, rather than the Cut-to-shocked-facial-expression you would get today. No music or auditory cues of any sort. And, most surprising to me, the humor is much more understated than would be found in any slap stick comedy today. Groucho is frustrated by Chico’s ignorance as they go through the contract, but there’s no eye rolls, no exaggerated voice, no broad body language. You know he is frustrated by a few small signs and by putting yourself in his place. It’s not telling you what to feel, it’s letting you figure it out.

    I’m not faulting modern movies. But the differences will make it hard for a younger audience to appreciate those golden era movies, at least if they watch beyond a 15 second clip showing Charlie Chaplin hanging from a clock, or Oliver Hardy smashing Stan Laurel’s hat.

  53. Kathy says:

    @JohnSF:

    Anyone got views on reliability levels for Buzzfeed and these reporters?

    Precedent: The Iranian side of the Iran-Contra scandal was broken by a Lebanese magazine.

    I’m sure most people who heard about it at the time, blew it off due to the source. I know I did. After all, it was about a trade of arms for hostages, and everyone knew St. Ronnie does not negotiate with terrorists.

  54. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    But the differences will make it hard for a younger audience to appreciate those golden era movies

    I think the black & white footage accomplishes that.

    It’s silly, I know. But I still know a lot of people who won’t watch a B&W movie, regardless of what it is, even classics like Duck Soup, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, The Great Dictator, Metropolis, etc.

  55. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: When I was growing up in the ’80s my parents introduced me early on to very old comedy films–Chaplin, the Marx Bros., Laurel & Hardy, The Three Stooges, Danny Kaye. That’s what they rented from the video stores (as well as old musicals and Disney films). So I grew up totally used to it, and developed a lifelong appreciation for those comedians. In a way the Marx Bros. held a place in my mind very similar to more modern films like The Naked Gun in that I utterly loved them as a kid even though I was too young to understand all the jokes, so repeat viewings as I grew older became a process of expanding revelation. Watching Duck Soup as a kid, I loved the physical comedy like the hat scene and the mirror scene, and some of the puns–rather than Groucho’s rapid-fire and relatively risque (by 1930s standards) dialogue, or the political satire.

    P.S. I think the hanging-from-the-clock routine was Harold Lloyd, not Chaplin.

  56. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: And that’s after they get past the cigarettes and pay phones.