WASHINGTON (AFP) - Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Monday (Aug 20) backpedaled after saying that "truth isn't truth" in explaining why the president should not be interviewed by the special counsel in charge of the Russia probe - a comment that left pundits baffled.
Giuliani - whose comment on NBC's Meet the Press earned him heaps of mockery and scorn - explained he was only trying to say that different people can offer different accounts of what happened in any given situation.
"My statement was not meant as a pontification on moral theology but one referring to the situation where two people make precisely contradictory statements, the classic 'he said, she said' puzzle," he said on Twitter.
"Sometimes further inquiry can reveal the truth other times it doesn't."
The tweet came after a Sunday (Aug 19) interview on NBC during which he was asked whether Trump should accept to be interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller over allegations that he obstructed the probe into Russian election meddling.
"I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury," the former New York mayor said.
"And when you tell me that he should testify because he's going to tell the truth and he shouldn't worry, well that's so silly because it's somebody's version of the truth. Not the truth."
"Truth is truth," countered NBC host Chuck Todd.
"No, it isn't truth. Truth isn't truth," Giuliani insisted.
TV commenters and social media laid into Giuliani mercilessly.
"Monday isn't Monday," quipped one CNN presenter.
Comedian John Oliver labelled Giuliani a "one-man legal improv troupe."
"That's not acceptable from a president's lawyer. It's barely acceptable from a sophomore philosophy major who just tried molly for the first time," Oliver quipped.
Others took it more seriously - that Giuliani wasn't serving his powerful client's interests well.
"If you have to resort to 'truth isn't truth,' particularly as a lawyer, you're in a very dark place. You're in a place where you know your client is in a lot of trouble," former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance said on MSNBC.
It was hardly the first time Giuliani delivered bewildering statements.
Facts are "in the eye of the beholder," he said last week.
And, in an earlier interview: "Men are, you know, disposable."