Associated Press Rudy Giuliani clarified Thursday a long-standing denial of collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign. There was none – by Donald Trump, he said.
Friday, January 18, 2019 1:00 am
Giuliani contradicts his collusion remarks
Clarifies that Trump never did amid court filings
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani now says he “never said there was no collusion” between Russia and members of Trump's 2016 White House campaign, contradicting public positions that he and his client have taken.
Giuliani, who previously called the idea of Russian collusion “total fake news,” appears to have left open the possibility of improper contacts, in light of court filings in the past year that have detailed ties between Trump aides and Russia.
After his comments in a CNN interview Wednesday night, the former New York City mayor tried to clarify what he meant.
“I represent only the president, not the campaign,” he told The Associated Press in an interview. “And I can only speak of what I know, and that is that I have no knowledge that anyone on the campaign illegally colluded with Russia. But I can only speak definitively about the president, as he is my client.”
In a separate statement Thursday, he said that “there was no collusion by President Trump in any way, shape or form” and that he had “no knowledge of any collusion by any of the thousands of people who worked on the campaign.”
The comment reflected a stark turnabout from long-standing denials by the White House and Trump advisers of improper collusion, and it underscored how the president's lawyers have adapted their message and defenses as additional revelations have emerged.
In November 2016, for instance, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said, “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.” Trump has repeatedly insisted there was no collusion during his White House run.
In a Fox News interview last May, Giuliani described the idea of Russian collusion as “total fake news” and said, “Unfortunately, it has become the basis of the investigation. Mueller owes us a report saying that Russia collusion means nothing, it didn't happen.”
On Wednesday, Giuliani told CNN that even if some people working on the campaign did something wrong, the president was not part of any collusion.
“There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you could commit here, conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC,” Giuliani said, referring to the Democratic National Committee.
The comments on collusion came after Giuliani was confronted with prosecutors' allegations, detailed in court papers this month, that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had lied to investigators about sharing campaign polling data with an associate whom U.S. authorities have tied to Russian intelligence.
Giuliani repeated to the AP on Thursday that there was no collusion “connected to Russian hacking” and that Manafort's sharing of polling data had nothing to do with the campaign or the president.
So far, Mueller has charged 33 people, including five Trump associates and 32 Russians accused of interfering in the election either through hacking or through a hidden social media campaign aimed at swaying American public opinion.
Giuliani also said the Trump legal team had told Mueller that the president would not answer any additional questions from prosecutors. Trump has so far answered only a limited number of questions in writing. Trump's lawyers have balked at the idea of a face-to-face interview with Mueller's office or having Trump questioned about potential obstruction of justice or other actions he took as president.