'I never said there was no collusion' with Russia: Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani

US President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani speaking at a convention in Washington, on May 5, 2018.
US President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani speaking at a convention in Washington, on May 5, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani insisted on Wednesday (Jan 16) that he "never said there was no collusion" between Mr Trump's 2016 presidential election campaign and Russia - only that Mr Trump himself was not involved.

Speaking to CNN's Chris Cuomo, 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," Mr Giuliani said.

"I said the President of the United States," he added.

"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."

A day earlier, Mr Trump had insisted he "never worked for Russia" following two bombshell reports.

"It's a disgrace that you even ask that question," he told reporters on the White House's South Lawn. "It's all a big fat hoax."

In the first report, The New York Times said the FBI opened an investigation into whether Mr Trump was acting on Russia's behalf soon after he became president.

 
 
 

Meanwhile, The Washington Post detailed what it said were the unusual lengths taken by Mr Trump to hide the contents of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Both men's comments come as Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation looms large in the background, punctuated by guilty pleas, convictions and indictments of former Trump associates.

These include his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort and Mr Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

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. CNN reported that the intended recipients were two pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarchs.

But on Wednesday, Mr Giuliani suggested that was "not collusion".

"Polling data is given to everybody," he told CNN.