Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani appeared to inadvertently reveal the existence of taped evidence relating to collusion between the president’s campaign and Russia before immediately rowing back on his statement in a car-crash interview.
Mr Giuliani has struggled in recent days to help clear up the situation surrounding claims in a BuzzFeed News report Mr Trump instructed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
He had already attempted to walk back comments over the weekend, in which he suggested the president may have spoken to Cohen before he gave false testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee in October 2017.
However, in a chaotic interview with The New Yorker attempting to clear up his position on the BuzzFeed report, Mr Giuliani only succeeded in creating more questions.
Telling the reporter he had “only a minute before getting into the shower” in which to answer questions, the president’s attorney claimed he had known “from the moment I read the story” it was false.
Asked why he believed the report was incorrect, Mr Giuliani said: “Because I have been through all the tapes, I have been through all the texts, I have been through all the e-mails, and I knew none existed.”
When pressed to clarify what tapes he had “been through”, the former New York City mayor replied: “I shouldn’t have said tapes.”
“They alleged there were texts and e-mails that corroborated that Cohen was saying the president told him to lie,” Mr Giuliani added.
“There were no texts, there were no e-mails, and the president never told him to lie.”
When asked again if he had listened to tapes on the matter, he said: “No tapes. Well, I have listened to tapes, but none of them concern this.”
BuzzFeed reported last Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller had obtained evidence the president instructed Cohen to commit perjury in front of Congress.
The president’s former lawyer has already pleaded guilty to lying to senators about talks to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
He had told Congress negotiations ended in January 2016, but later admitted they progressed until at least July 2016, by which time Mr Trump had been named the presumed Republican presidential nominee.
The BuzzFeed report had been the first to claim Mr Trump himself had been directly involved in Cohen’s decision to commit perjury – a potential felony offence if proven.
However, other media organisations have struggled to since corroborate the claims attributed to two special counsel sources within the piece, which led to a rare statement from investigators denying the report’s contents.
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mr Mueller said.