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Giuliani won’t explain the ‘very nasty’ business relationship Trump says he had with Mueller

President Trump's lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani tried to downplay collusion by saying it isn't a crime and attacked the special counsel on July 30. (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani declined on Monday to explain the president’s allegation that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has a conflict of interest because of a past business relationship with Trump.

In tweets about the Russia investigation on Sunday, Trump claimed that Mueller has multiple conflicts of interests, including “the fact that we had a very nasty & contentious business relationship.”

Pressed during a television interview Monday about what Trump meant, Giuliani said the dispute remains unresolved “even to this day” and was serious enough that it would have kept him from taking a position investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

But Giuliani declined to detail the alleged conflict, calling on Mueller to “stand up and be a man” and disclose it.

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“He has the conflict, not the president,” Giuliani told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “I have a good idea what it is. It’s one that would have kept me out of the investigation.”

Giuliani also declined to say whether Trump was referring to an alleged dispute over membership fees at Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia.

Last year, two White House advisers told The Washington Post that Mueller had a dispute over membership fees when he resigned as a club member in 2011. A spokesman for Mueller, who was FBI director at the time, said there was no dispute when Mueller left the club.

Since Robert S. Mueller III was appointed in May 2017 to investigate the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, President Trump has relentlessly attacked him. (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

“I’m not going to go any further,” Giuliani said when asked about the golf club allegation.

In his Sunday tweet about alleged Mueller conflicts, Trump also said that he turned down Mueller “to head the FBI” shortly before he was named special counsel by the Justice Department and that former FBI director James B. Comey is a “close friend” of Mueller.

Trump’s firing of Comey last year is among the actions being examined by Mueller’s team as it probes whether Trump has sought to obstruct the investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and Russia.

During testimony before Congress last month, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mueller’s work, said he was “not aware of any disqualifying conflict of interest.”

During his CNN interview, Giuliani declined to say whether he still respects Mueller, whom he has known for a long time.

“We’ll see,” Giuliani said, adding: “You can only investigate an innocent man so long.”