17/01/2019 13:46 GMT

Trump's Lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, Backtracks Over Russia Collusion In Car-Crash CNN Interview

"Make no mistake, there is a method to this madness."

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer gave a combative interview to CNN on Wednesday night, in which he appeared to backtrack on the White House’s official stance on allegations of collusion with Russia.

Rudy Giuliani insisted he had “never said there was no collusion” between the president’s 2016 election campaign and the Kremlin – only that he’s said Trump himself was never involved.

Speaking to CNN’s Chris Cuomo, he said: “I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or between people in the campaign.

“I said the president of the United States.

“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.”

Giuliani’s latest stance is a bit of a stretch – in May he told Fox News the Trump campaign, which would include Trump himself, did not collude with Russia and in the same month he said: “Russia collusion is total fake news.”

Speaking after the interview aired, CNN’s Don Lemon suggested there was a deliberate tactic being employed by Giuliani which was to pre-emptively deflect from anymore damaging revelations that come to light.

He said: “Quite a performance, right? But make no mistake, there is a method to this madness.

“The president’s attorney, as he always does, laying out the groundwork there for what is to come. So stay tuned to that.”

It’s not the first time Giuliani has sought to redefine collusion – in July of last year he went from saying it had never happened to arguing it was not even a crime

Giuliani, who was mayor of New York during the 9/11 attacks, gave the interview just days after a series of bombshell reports about Trump and his possible links to Russia.

The US president has been accused of going to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his meetings with his Vladimir Putin, including on at least one occasion seizing the notes of his own interpreter.

US officials have said it means there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of five of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with Putin over the last two years.

The extraordinary actions were reportedly brought to light when a White House adviser and senior State Department official requested further information from an interpreter who was present when the two world leaders spoke in Germany in 2017 – with no other officials attending.

The revelation, reported by the Washington Post on Saturday, came a day after it was revealed the FBI had investigated whether Trump has been working on behalf of Russia, against US interests.

The New York Times reported the probe began in the days after Trump fired James Comey as director of the FBI in May 2017 and said the agency’s counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether his actions constituted a possible threat to national security.

On Saturday evening, Trump phoned into Fox News to rebut the claims and speaking of the 2017 meeting with Putin, said: “We had a great conversation...I’m not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn’t care less.”

After being accused of dodging the accusations, he later in the week told reporters: “I never worked for Russia.”

Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation continues to probe alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Its findings are expected this year, but no date has been set.