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.”
That was an apparent reversal from the Wednesday television appearance in which he said, “I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.”
It was not clear whether Giuliani in the television interview was reflecting a new position or talking point from the Trump legal team or was making a strategic attempt to get ahead of potentially damaging findings from special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been investigating potential co-ordination between Russia and the president’s campaign.
Either way, 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 defences 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 himself has repeatedly insisted there was no collusion during his successful White House run.
Eric Tucker, The Associated Press