Trump once said he was unaware of the payment to the adult film actress.
Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr.
Typically when you hire a lawyer, they’re supposed to get you out of trouble, not put you in more trouble.
But nothing is typical in Donald Trump’s America.
Trump’s newly-hired lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, admitted the president reimbursed his lawyer, Michael Cohen, for $130,000 in hush money received by adult film star Stormy Daniels.
The payment occurred in the final days of the 2016 election and may have violated campaign finance laws.
“The president repaid it,” Giuliani told Sean Hannity on May 2, continuing:
“[Trump] didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know. But he did know the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this, like I take care of things like this with my clients. I don’t burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people.”
Here's the moment Rudy Giuliani told Sean Hannity that "they funneled the [$130,000] through a law firm, and the president repaid it.” pic.twitter.com/XWGKE77Ysq— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) May 3, 2018\n
Giuliani’s admission doesn’t align with Trump’s comments on the Daniels situation.
Last month, while on board Air Force One, Trump told reporters he was unaware of the payment. “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” he said. “Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”
WATCH: President Trump says he did not know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels while speaking to reporters on Air Force One pic.twitter.com/IPQ786tWRa— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) April 5, 2018\n
After Giuliani’s interview, Trump contradicted his original statement, saying he reimbursed Cohen for the payment to Daniels, but that it wasn’t in violation of any campaign finance laws.
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. These agreements are.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2018\n
...very common among celebrities and people of wealth. In this case it is in full force and effect and will be used in Arbitration for damages against Ms. Clifford (Daniels). The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair,......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2018\n
...despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair. Prior to its violation by Ms. Clifford and her attorney, this was a private agreement. Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2018\n
While Giuliani insists the payments were legal because they weren’t sourced by campaign money, Lawrence Noble, senior director and general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, says otherwise.
“We still have the same question: What was the purpose of this?” Noble told The Washington Post. “If the purpose of this was to stop [Daniels] from hurting the campaign, then what you have is Cohen made a loan to the campaign,” he continued. “And it was an excessive loan because lending the campaign money is a contribution. It was an excessive contribution until it’s repaid.”
Some are calling Giuliani’s revelation a gaffe of epic proportions, but it may be part of a deeper strategy. Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room were raided in April by the FBI as part of the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Giuliani could be changing the public narrative to align with what prosecutors may already know.
An NBC news report on May 3 revealed that the FBI tapped Cohen’s phone and at least one call with the White House was intercepted.