May 02, 2018
“It’s not campaign money; no campaign finance violation,” the former New York City mayor said.
In a sweeping interview on Fox News Wednesday night, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said President Donald Trump had repaid his lawyer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 presidential election.
“It’s going to turn out to be perfectly legal; that money was not campaign money,” Giuliani, Trump’s new lead attorney regarding issues related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
“Sorry, I’m giving you a fact now that you don’t know,” Giuliani continued, before saying that the payment was “funneled through a law firm, and then the president repaid it.”
The news directly contradicts Trump’s statements last month that he had no knowledge that Cohen had paid Daniels. Reporters aboard Air Force One had asked whether Trump knew about the payment, to which the president replied: “No.”
“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” Trump said when pressed on the issue. “Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”
The White House declined to comment to HuffPost.
Hogan Gidley, the deputy White House press secretary, told Fox later on Wednesday that he had “no idea of the topics of the show” before Giuliani’s interview, but then directed all questions to Trump’s outside lawyers.
Cohen is currently under criminal investigation by the Justice Department and FBI agents raided his office, home and hotel room last month, seizing business records and documents, including those related to the payout to Daniels. Trump has moved to distance himself from the attorney, saying last week Cohen only handled a “tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work.
During Wednesday’s interview, Giuliani said Trump paid Cohen a retainer of $35,000 “when he was doing no work for the president” and insinuated that that fund was used for reimbursements. Such retainers are typically paid monthly, although it’s unclear what contract Trump had with Cohen.
“I said that’s how he’s repaying it, with a little profit and a margin for paying taxes, for Michael,” he continued.
When Hannity asked if Trump knew about the details of the payments, Giuliani backtracked slightly, saying that the president “didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know.”
“But he did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this. I take care of things like this for my clients,” Giuliani said. “I don’t burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people.”
Giuliani says Trump repaid lawyer for $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels
Giuliani’s revelation appeared to take Hannity aback, and just moments after the host went off the air, Fox’s Laura Ingraham questioned the bombshell.
“I love Rudy, but they better have an explanation for that,” she said. “That’s a problem.”
In March, Cohen confirmed that he’d made a payment to Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with Trump, out of his own pocket.
“Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Cohen told The New York Times in a statement at the time. “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”
Giuliani’s statements Wednesday also appear to contradict that claim.
Still, shortly after the interview, Giuliani told The Wall Street Journal that Trump’s earlier comments were “not [an] issue.”
“Cohen was his lawyer and had discretion to settle, as I have had for clients ultimately paying for it,” he told the outlet, before noting that Trump was “probably not aware” of the payment.
But Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said “every American, regardless of their politics, should be outraged” by the news.
“Mr. Trump stood on AF1 and blatantly lied,” he wrote on Twitter. “This followed the lies told by others close to him, including Mr. Cohen. This should never be acceptable in our America.”
Giuliani joined Trump’s legal team last month. John Dowd, Trump’s former top lawyer, resigned in March after repeatedly butting heads with the president over how cooperative he should be with Mueller.
Dowd had urged Trump to reject any sit-down interview but grew increasingly worried that his client would ignore his advice.
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