If you were hoping that the Michael Cohen raid and the Stormy Daniels non-disclosure agreement were going to be the way through which President Donald Trump met his downfall, new presidential attorney Rudy Giuliani has some bad news for you.
In an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program Wednesday night, Giuliani said that the money paid to Daniels had been “funneled … through the law firm and the president repaid it.”
“Sorry, I’m giving you a fact now that you don’t know,” Giuliani said to Hannity as he laid out how the Stormy Daniels payment was handled.
The $130,000 non-disclosure agreement, signed by the pornographic actress before the 2016 election, has become a source of hope for Democrats trying to find an impeachable offense to tie to the president.
It was implied after the raid on the offices of Trump attorney Michael Cohen that the purpose of the raid was discovering campaign finance violations on the part of the Trump campaign.
However, if the money had been funneled through a law firm and had been repaid by Trump himself, according to The Associated Press, the president’s legal liability would be considerably limited. The AP still noted that “outside experts said it raised a number of questions, including whether the money represented repayment of an undisclosed loan or could be seen as reimbursement for a campaign expenditure.”
On the second count, however, if the payment had existed entirely outside the aegis of the Trump campaign, the likelihood of it constituting a campaign expenditure seemed minute.
Wow Hannity's reaction https://t.co/EHdxuYhH41
— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) May 3, 2018
As for the first count, when questioned by Hannity as to whether Trump knew about the payment, Giuliani said, “He 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, like I take care of things like this for my clients. I don’t burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people.”
Whether or not this is true is still a matter of personal opinion, and it remains the biggest problem for President Trump, particularly given that it constitutes a personal loan given to aid the campaign. Giuliani’s defense seems to be plain: this is something that Cohen would do for Trump when he was a mere citizen with little to no knowledge on Trump’s part. This is going to make convictions and/or impeachments on the matter a significantly muddier affair, at least in terms of proving intent.
The left is currently treating this as if Giuliani went off the reservation by revealing that the president did know about the Stormy Daniels payment — contradicting what he had originally said. Sample headlines include “In One Hannity Interview, Giuliani Blew Up Trump’s Arguments in 3 Legal Cases” and “Holy S*** Did Rudy Giuliani F*** Up This Interview.”
The tactic may be a brilliant one, though. If Cohen was given authority to negotiate agreements like this with individuals who might potentially embarrass Trump in his role as Trump’s private attorney and was paid back out of private funds, that eliminates the specter of campaign finance violations.
Giuliani added that “the question there was, the only possible violation there would be: Was it a campaign finance violation? Which usually results in a fine, by the way, not this big stormtroopers coming in and breaking down (Cohen’s) apartment and breaking down his office.”
The only way that Giuliani may have weakened Trump’s position was by implying — by stating that Trump knew about the agreement, if not the specifics — that the president may have had the affair in the first place.
Campaign finance violations are a different issue entirely, and one more voters would likely care about — yet we have yet to see any particularly convincing evidence that Trump would commit campaign finance violations when he could have just as easily kept this matter private with his wealth. Why continue to defend Trump on whether he knew about the agreement in a formal sense when it would be much easier to end the Mueller investigation’s latest fishing expedition?
The president seemed to agree, according to Giuliani, who told The Washington Post that Trump was “very pleased” with his performance on Hannity.
“He was well aware that at some point when I saw the opportunity, I was going to get this over with,” Giuliani said.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.