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Rudy Giuliani Is Changing Trump's Story About Whether People On His 2016 Campaign Colluded With Russia

“I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign.”

Last updated on January 17, 2019, at 5:05 p.m. ET

Posted on January 16, 2019, at 10:36 p.m. ET

Don Emmert / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared to walk back past claims about allegations of collusion between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russians, telling CNN Wednesday night that while the president was not involved in any such collusion, he could not rule out that other people working on the campaign had been.

In a lengthy back-and-forth interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo, the anchor pushed back against Giuliani's claim that recent news reports about the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians were false.

"False reporting is saying that there has been no suggestion of any kind of collusion between the campaign and any Russians," Cuomo said.

"You just misstated my position. I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or between people in the campaign," Giuliani replied. "I have no idea. I said the president of the United States."

.@ChrisCuomo: “False reporting is saying that there has been no suggestion of any kind of collusion between the campaign and any Russians.” Giuliani: “I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign” Cuomo: “Yes you did”

Giuliani went on to repeat the claim — made frequently by Trump himself — that the president was not involved in collusion. But while Trump has often extended that claim to include his entire 2016 campaign operation, Giuliani seemed to walk back that position, suggesting that neither he nor the president has claimed to know whether other people on the campaign were involved in collusion.

"He didn't say nobody. He said he didn't," Guiliani said.

Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!

This is, of course, false. Trump has declared multiple times — both in person and via Twitter — that there was no collusion by him or anyone else in his campaign.

Cuomo pointed out this falsehood and also noted that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had multiple interactions with Russians during the campaign, including allegedly sharing 2016 polling data with his former Russian-Ukrainian business partner Konstantin Kilimnik, who reportedly had ties to Russian intelligence.

Giuliani replied that the president was unaware of that at the time.

"He did not know about it until it was revealed a few weeks ago in an article," Giuliani said. He added that Manafort only served as Trump's campaign manager for five months.

As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign. As many are now finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State. #DrainTheSwamp

Giuliani also suggested that Manafort may have been motivated by his own financial agenda; he owed millions of dollars to a Russian oligarch. Giuliani then repeated that there was no collusion, but with a caveat.

"I'm telling you there's no chance it happened, with the president of the United States," he said.

On Thursday, Giuliani sought to clarify his statements, saying once again in a tweet that he had not backed away from his claims that the campaign did not collude with Russians.

"The point is I represent the President not the campaign," he wrote. "But from both perspectives there is no involvement in collusion with Russians on the email hack, the only possible crime."

My statements on collusion haven’t changed. The misinterpretation has changed. The point is I represent the President not the campaign. But from both perspectives there is no involvement in collusion with Russians on the email hack, the only possible crime.

He did not address other means of potential collusion.

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