Giuliani Interview Throws Trump Defense Team In Disarray
President Donald Trump’s new lead attorney for the Russia investigation Rudy Giuliani told Fox News Host Sean Hannity on Wednesday that Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.
Giuliani’s comment about the $130,000 paid to pornstar Stormy Daniels directly contradicted Trump’s denial last month that he had any knowledge of the payment.
Trump told inflight reporters on Air Force One that he did not know about the payment and to reach out Michael Cohen directly for information. Trump said, “Well, you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. And you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen.”
When asked if Trump knew where Michael Cohen “got the money to make the payment” the President said, “No, I don’t know. No.”
In series of tweets on Thursday Trump confirmed Giuliani’s claim he reimbursed Cohen.
Trump tweeted, “Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA.”
In subsequent tweets, Trump said that this type of arrangement was “very common among celebrities and people of wealth.” “The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair.…despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair,” Trump said.
Trump’s tweet thread also followed up on a statement made by Guiliani that the payment did not violate campaign finance laws. Trump said, “Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.”
Giuliani told Hannity the transaction was “perfectly legal.” He said it was “not campaign money.”
Giuliani said, “It’s not a campaign money. No campaign finance violation. They funneled through a law firm and the president repaid it.”
In an interview on Thursday with the Washington Post Giuliani said most of the payments Trump made to Cohen occurred in 2017.
Giuliani told the Washington Post, “The president was always going to make sure he got it back, and enough money to pay the taxes.”
CNN reported on Thursday that White House staffers were caught off guard by Giuliani’s “cable rollout, and the torrent of statements he made Wednesday night.”
On Thursday, White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the press pool she learned about the Cohen reimbursement when Giuliani mentioned it on television.
White House staffers were effectively boxed out of a Trump/Giuliani strategy session. Trump met privately with Guiliani prior to Wednesday’s announcement on Fox News.
CNN reported that Giuliani also had dinner with former Trump Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski before his appearance on Fox News.
A White House official told CNN, “Giuliani undermined the administration’s entire defense strategy when it came to not just Daniels, but also former FBI Director James Comey and the special counsel, all in the span of a single interview.”
Guiliani told Hannity on Wednesday that Comey was fired because he didn’t say that Trump was not a target of the Russia investigation.
“He fired Comey because Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn’t a target of the investigation,” Giuliani said.
This is the third reason given by Trump directly or a White House official for Comey’s firing.
On May 9, 2017, former Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Comey was fired because of a recommendation by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. On May 11, 2017, Trump told NBC News anchor Lester Holt that Comey was fired because of the Russia investigation. On Wednesday former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Comey was fired because he wouldn’t say Trump was not a target of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation.