After months of blasting the Russia investigation as a hoax, President Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, appeared to abruptly walk back his client’s “no collusion” mantra on Wednesday night with the bombshell claim that neither he nor Trump had ever ruled out collusion by other members of the campaign.
“You just misstated my position. I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or between people in the campaign; I have no idea,” Giuliani told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “I said the president of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence that the president of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC.”
Giuliani also said, falsely, that Trump himself had never said that his campaign had not colluded with Russia, but only that he himself had not.
“He actually did say that,” Cuomo shot back, referring to Trump’s previous statements on the matter, one of which was a very public assertion on Twitter last year that “the Trump campaign did nothing wrong—no collusion!”
“Well, I never said that,” Giuliani responded.
In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity last August, however, Giuliani had said the only collusion in the case involved the intelligence community launching an “illegitimate investigation” based on the Steele dossier.
Speaking with Cuomo Wednesday evening, Giuliani shrugged off the news that then campaign manager Paul Manafort had handed over polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik—thought to be connected to Russian intelligence.
“[Manafort] was only there for six months or four months,” he said. “The polling data was given to everybody. I mean he shouldn’t have given it to them. It’s wrong to give it to them.”
Giuliani added that he and Trump had no idea that Manafort had shared polling data with Kilimnik until it was inadvertently revealed in a court document filed by Manafort’s lawyers—which Giuliani erroneously referred to as a “leak to a newspaper.”
“He did not know about it until it was revealed a few weeks ago in an article,” Giuliani said of Trump.
Manafort and Kilimnik were both indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and Manafort was charged with eight fraud-related counts before sabotaging his own plea deal by lying to Mueller about the polling data, according to the special prosecutor.
After facing backlash over his statements, Giuliani said Thursday that his comments on Cuomo’s show had been “misinterpreted.”
“I represent only President Trump not the Trump campaign,” he said, according to a tweet from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman. “There was no collusion by President Trump in any way, shape or form. Likewise, I have no knowledge of any collusion by any of the thousands of people who have worked on the campaign.”
“The only knowledge I have in this regard is the collusion of the Clinton campaign with Russia,” he concluded, “which has so far been ignored.”