- Trump’s lawyer denies president himself conspired with Russia
- Cohen reported to have tried to rig polls in Trump’s favour
Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has insisted that he “never said there was no collusion” between Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign and Russia – only that Trump himself was not involved.
The former New York mayor said he did not know if others involved in the campaign had worked with Russia.
“I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or between people in the campaign,” Giuliani said on CNN on Wednesday night.
“I said the president of the United States,” he added.
Later in the interview, Giuliani said: “If the collusion happened, it happened a long time ago.”
But he once again defended the president.
“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,” he said, referring to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and leaking the emails of senior Democrats during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
Thousands of emails taken from the accounts of staff at the DNC and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, were published by outlets including WikiLeaks.
On Tuesday, Trump had been obliged to state that he “never worked for Russia” following two reports that he may have been used as an asset by Moscow.
“It’s a disgrace that you even ask that question,” he told reporters on the White House lawn. “It’s all a big fat hoax.”
Both men’s comments come as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of links between the Trump campaign and Russia, and obstruction of justice, looms large, punctuated by guilty pleas, convictions and indictments of former Trump associates.
Manafort has admitted to sharing polling data with a Russian during the 2016 presidential race, according to a court filing inadvertently made public by his lawyers.
But on Wednesday, Giuliani suggested that was “not collusion”, a change of stance from multiple previous statements such as one given to Axios in November about the Mueller investigation that: “I don’t think they have any evidence of collusion of any kind.”
“Polling data is given to everybody,” he told CNN on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Michael Cohen tried to rig online opinion polls in Trump’s favor before the 2016 election, when he was still acting as the candidate’s personal attorney and fixer.
In response, Cohen tweeted on Thursday morning: “As for the @WSJ article on poll rigging, what I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of @realDonaldTrump @POTUS. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.”
The Journal reported that Cohen is accused of paying a polling company to rig online results to Trump’s advantage, although the attempts were unsuccessful.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in December for crimes including lying to Congress and facilitating illegal payments to silence two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who alleged affairs with Trump. He has been cooperating with prosecutors and has agreed to testify to Congress in February.
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