Donald Trump’s personal lawyer has insisted he “never said there was no collusion” between the president’s campaign team and Russia.
Rudy Giuliani said he had “no idea” if campaign staffers had been working with the Kremlin ahead of the 2016 election, and only knew that Mr Trump had not.
“Mr mayor, false reporting is saying that nobody in the campaign had any contacts with Russia,” CNN host Chris Cuomo responded. “False reporting is saying that there has been no suggestion of any kind of collusion between the campaign and any Russians.”
Mr Giuliani protested: “You just misstated my position. I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign.
“I have not, 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 (Democratic National Committee).”
Mr Giuliani also wrongly stated that Mr Trump had never claimed there had been no collusion between his campaign team and Moscow.
“He said he didn’t, he didn’t say nobody,” the lawyer told Mr Cuomo. “As far as he knows that’s true.”
Mr Giuliani’s claims about his own past statements and those of Mr Trump are both false.
The president has repeatedly insisted there was no collusion between his campaign team and Russia, denouncing Mr Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt”.
As recently as 4 January, he wrote on Twitter: “no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded”. Last month he tweeted: “No Smocking Gun...No Collusion.”
In March last year, he specifically insisted there was “no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign”.
Mr Giuliani has also stated “there was no Russian collusion”. Speaking to Sean Hannity on Fox News in May, he declared: “We’re now a year and a half, two years into this, no Russian collusion, case over.”
Wednesday night’s CNN interview came in the wake of allegations that Mr Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort had shared polling data with Ukrainian business partner Konstantin Kilimnik, who is believed to have ties to Russian intelligence.
Mr Mueller’s office believes that Manafort lied to prosecutors about his discussions with Mr Kilimnik about policy over Ukraine.
Asked by Mr Cuomo if sharing polling data with foreign agents amounted to collusion, Mr Giuliani replied: “Not with the president of the United States, not with Donald Trump ... He did not know about it until it was revealed a few weeks ago in an article.”
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