Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and newest member of President Trump’s legal team, gave a startling report on Fox News Wednesday night. He said President Trump 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 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.”
🚨 Giuliani says Trump repaid Cohen the $130,000 used as hush money for Stormy Daniels pic.twitter.com/pqNtZthgwf
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) May 3, 2018
This directly contradicts previous statements the president made last month. He said 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 pushed on the issue. “Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”
CBS Evening News jumped on the new information tweeting:
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
During the Hannity interview on Fox News, Giuliani said Trump paid Cohen a retainer of $35,000 “when he was doing no work for the president” and claimed the fund was used for reimbursements. Giuliani later clarified to The New York Times that the payments to the retainer were made monthly from a personal Trump family account and that Cohen was paid between $460,000 and $470,000 in total, including money for “incidental expenses.”
When Hannity asked if Trump knew about the details of the payments, Giuliani backed up 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.”
Even later on Wednesday, Fox News’ John Roberts said Giuliani backtracked even more and said that the president didn’t know what the money was for, but was simply told by Cohen to pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnamed “expenses.”
Giuliani’s new “news” appeared to take Hannity by surprise, and as soon as 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.”
Way back 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. “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”
Giuliani’s statements Wednesday appears to contradict that claim.
Shortly after the interview, Giuliani told The Wall Street Journal: “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.
“I know the public may think the settlement may mean an admission of guilt, but it’s not,” Giuliani told the Washington Post. “People settle things all the time just to get rid of harassment. The amount of money tells me this was a harassment settlement.”
Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said “every American, regardless of their politics, should be outraged” by the news.