Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani has gone farther in the campaign to undermine the Russia investigation, claiming that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is trying to “frame” Trump.

At a conference in Tel Aviv, Israel on Thursday, Giuliani was defending Trump’s assertion that he can pardon itself even though “he isn’t going to do it — he’s innocent. He hasn’t done anything wrong.”

He put out Trump’s lie that Mueller’s team are “a group of 13 highly partisan Democrats” — the Special Counsel and several of the team are registered Republicans — and then said, “They are trying to frame him [Trump], to get him in trouble when he hasn’t done anything wrong.”

In a later interview, Giuliani tried to explain his use of the incendiary word “frame”:

They don’t have a crime. And that’s why I say they’re trying to frame him. Because if they had any sense, they would realize they’re trying to put together a case on an innocent man. And that’s what we call in America framing somebody.

He rejected the claim that he and Trump are damaging the FBI and the Justice Department with attacks on the agencies’ approach to the Russia investigation: “We’re trying to purify institutions.”