- President Donald Trump said his new lawyer Rudy Giuliani would “get his facts straight” about the $US130,000 payment to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in October 2016.
- Giuliani said this week that Trump had reimbursed Michael Cohen, his longtime attorney, for the payment – something Cohen had denied.
- The revelation ignited a strange, furious news cycle and questions about whether the president misrepresented the payment in earlier comments.
President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that Rudy Giuliani, his new outside attorney, would “get his facts straight” on the $US130,000 payment to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in October 2016.
Giuliani went on a media tear this week and said Trump had reimbursed Michael Cohen, his longtime lawyer, shifting the administration’s narrative on the payment.
Before boarding Marine One outside the White House, Trump said Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and US attorney, was a “great guy” who “really has his heart in” handling Trump’s legal work.
The president also said that Giuliani, who began representing Trump last month, “just started a day ago.”
“He’s leaning the subject matter,” Trump said, adding: “He started yesterday. He’ll get his facts straight.”
Later, speaking to reporters at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Trump insisted that his team was “not changing any stories” about the payment and lamented that news outlets were focusing on the “kind of crap” like the payment instead of news about the nation’s economy.
Giuliani sparked a firestorm
The latest episode in the saga involving Trump, Cohen, and Daniels began Wednesday night when, in a bombshell revelation, Giuliani told the Fox News host Sean Hannity that the president had reimbursed Cohen for the $US130,000 payment.
Earlier this year, Cohen said Trump had not done so. Cohen also said he used a home equity line of credit to pay Daniels, who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006.
The White House had also earlier denied that Trump reimbursed Cohen, and Trump himself has denied knowing about the payment.
After his interview with Hannity, Giuliani went on a media blitz in which he said his revelation about the reimbursement was made with Trump’s approval.
Cohen was paid $US35,000 monthly over a year beginning in January 2017 as part of the reimbursement, Giuliani said.
In an interview with NBC News on Thursday night, Giuliani said, “You’re not going to see daylight between the president and me.”
“We’re going to work hard to have a consistent strategy,” he added.
Giuliani told NBC News that Trump learned from his legal team that he had reimbursed Cohen only about a week ago.
“I don’t think the president realised he paid him back for that specific thing until we made him aware of the paperwork,” Giuliani said, recalling that Trump responded, “Oh my goodness, I guess that’s what it was for.”
Cohen pushes back
Cohen apparently doesn’t agree with what Giuliani is saying.
Donny Deutsch, an MSNBC contributor, said Cohen told him on Thursday that Giuliani “doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Cohen is the focus of a criminal investigation into whether he committed bank fraud or campaign finance violations. He has not been charged with a crime.
Questions have surfaced about whether the Daniels payment, made within weeks of the 2016 presidential election, was a violation of campaign finance laws. The Trump campaign did not report it to the Federal Election Commission, and it far exceeded the amount an individual can give to a presidential campaign.
Cohen has insisted the payment was not a campaign donation because its purpose was not to boost Trump’s candidacy but to protect his family from damaging information. Cohen and Trump, as well as their aides, have denied that any affair took place.
Giuliani, however, suggested during an interview on “Fox & Friends” on Thursday morning that such an allegation being made public would have been politically damaging to Trump.
Giuliani later told NBC News that the payment had nothing to do with the campaign and was instead meant to “prevent personal embarrassment and heartache to his wife,” Melania.
Watch some of Trump’s comments:
President Trump on Rudy Giuliani: "He started yesterday. He'll get his facts straight. He's a great guy." pic.twitter.com/mTjYdcMCCX
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 4, 2018
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