4 words from Rudy Giuliani unwound months of White House misdirection about Stormy Daniels

On Wednesday night, in the unlikeliest of places -- the cozy conservative comfort of Sean Hannity's show on Fox News ...

Posted: May 3, 2018 5:25 PM
Updated: May 3, 2018 5:25 PM

On Wednesday night, in the unlikeliest of places -- the cozy conservative comfort of Sean Hannity's show on Fox News -- the web of stories constructed by President Donald Trump and those around him to explain a $130,000 hush payment to porn star Stormy Daniels came tumbling down.

It was in that setting that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is now a legal adviser to Trump, acknowledged that the President had repaid attorney/fixer Michael Cohen the $130,000 that Cohen had directed to Daniels via a shell company just 11 days before the election to ensure she remained silent about an alleged sexual liaison she and Trump had in the mid 2000s.

"The President repaid it,'' said Giuliani. And, with those four words, Giuliani turned months and months of explanations and excuses about the Cohen payment on their head.

The stories pile one on top of the other so let's break them out -- starting with Trump.

1. President Trump

Here's the exchange between Trump and reporters on Air Force One last month about this topic.

Reporter: Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?"

Trump: No.

Reporter: Then why did Michael Cohen make [the payment], if there was no truth to her allegations?

Trump: You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael's my attorney, and you'll have to ask Michael."

Reporter: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

Trump: No I don't know.

But he did know something!

Here's Trump's version of all of this, as conveyed by his tweets Thursday morning: He had Cohen on a monthly retainer to deal with issues that came up. Cohen used that money to pay off Daniels -- entirely without Trump's knowledge.

Here are Trump's exact words (or a lawyer's) on Twitter:

"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."

In a subsequent Washington Post interview Giuliani said he didn't know when the reimbursements began but said he thought it was "earlier than mid-last year." He argued that what Cohen made the payment with in 2016 was his own money. Cohen had complained to friends he was not reimbursed, according to a Wall Street Journal report in March of 2018.

So, I suppose you could say Trump didn't have direct knowledge of the $130,000 payment to Daniels because he and Cohen had a you-handle-this-and-don't-get-me-involved relationship. (Such a relationship is "very common among celebrities and people of wealth," according to Trump's tweets.)

And, I can buy that Trump then wouldn't know why Cohen made the payment to Daniels "if there was no truth to her allegations."

But, there can be no doubt that when Trump said he didn't know where Cohen got the money to make the payment, he was lying, at least in the context of these new tweets. He knew that Cohen was on a monthly retainer to handle matters like this. His personal funds were being used, according to Giuliani, to reimburse Cohen for this and possibly other matters. It's impossible -- short of willingly suspending your rational brain function -- to conclude Trump had no idea where the money came from. He knew it came from him!

2. Michael Cohen

There's a whole lot of problems with Cohen's story about where the money came from in light of last night's revelations by Giuliani.

When it was first was reported that Cohen had set up a shell company -- Essential Consultants -- in Delaware to keep the Daniels payment quiet, he released a statement saying this:

"In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford," Michael Cohen said in a statement. "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."

Then, in March, Cohen said he had taken a home equity line of credit out in order to make the payment to Daniels. He reiterated that he had never been instructed to make the payment by anyone in Trumpworld and had not been reimbursed for it.

That's of course not true.

While you could make the case that Cohen was using his "own" money to pay off Daniels, we now know he was on retainer given to him by Trump to deal with situations like these. It's the equivalent of someone giving me a big envelope of money to carry to someone else. Sure, the money is sort of "mine" when I possess it but it's not really meant for me -- and it never was. I'm a conduit -- not the final recipient.

Here's how Giuliani put it in the Post interview: "Was (President Trump) aware that Michael incurred expenses to help him? Yes. Did he have an arrangement so that Michael knew he'd be reimbursed for it? Yes. Was the President really wise to take it out of personal funds rather than from campaign funds? Thank God he did [or else] he'd get a campaign finance violation they'd try to drum up into a felony or something. The president is personally protected."

And the idea that Cohen was not reimbursed by "the Trump organization or the Trump campaign" also hugely strains credulity -- and that's being nice. Donald Trump is a member of the Trump organization. He is also a member of the Trump campaign. Whether or not Trump made these payments from his personal accounts may be a legal loophole but it doesn't change the fact that no reasonable person would separate Donald Trump from either his organization or his campaign.

3. Sarah Sanders

On March 7, the White House press secretary was asked about Trump's knowledge (or lack thereof) of the payment to Daniels from Cohen. Here's how she responded:

"Yeah, I've had conversations with the President about this...There was no knowledge of any payments from the president and he's denied all of these allegations."

Obviously that's not right. There was quite clearly "knowledge" of the payment by the president since he was giving Cohen money for this type of purpose and then reimbursed him.

I think Sanders is the least culpable of the trio for her role in all of this deception because she was simply repeating what the president of the United States told her when she asked him about the Cohen payment. That's her job. Her job isn't to analyze whether or not -- and why -- Trump is/was telling the truth.

What's most amazing about all of this is that Giuliani was apparently acting on the orders of Trump in making this bombshell revelation.

"You wont see daylight between me and the president," Giuliani told CNN's Dana Bash Thursday."The strategy is to get everything wrapped up and done with this so that it doesn't take on a life of its own."

Um, too late.

Huntsville
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 75°
Florence
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 79°
Fayetteville
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 75°
Decatur
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 72°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 94827

Reported Deaths: 1674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12743242
Mobile9565206
Montgomery6521148
Madison525030
Tuscaloosa410371
Unassigned347461
Baldwin344323
Shelby320133
Marshall309034
Lee262844
Morgan233017
Etowah207530
DeKalb177113
Calhoun170413
Elmore169438
Walker150264
Houston136412
Russell13422
Dallas131123
St. Clair131016
Limestone128413
Franklin125820
Cullman120112
Colbert115613
Lauderdale113917
Autauga106521
Escambia105416
Talladega98613
Jackson9454
Tallapoosa84979
Chambers83538
Dale82323
Blount7743
Chilton7676
Butler75935
Coffee7475
Covington72620
Pike6907
Barbour5695
Lowndes56724
Marion56724
Marengo54614
Clarke4969
Hale46726
Bullock45411
Winston44411
Perry4364
Wilcox41810
Bibb4164
Monroe4154
Randolph39410
Pickens3849
Conecuh38210
Sumter36218
Lawrence3441
Macon33213
Washington32712
Crenshaw3133
Choctaw27912
Cherokee2637
Geneva2550
Henry2523
Greene25011
Clay2495
Lamar2172
Fayette1985
Cleburne1251
Coosa1012
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 118782

Reported Deaths: 1206
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby22635302
Davidson20185212
Rutherford640453
Hamilton597052
Knox440737
Williamson344825
Sumner336573
Unassigned30809
Out of TN284216
Wilson222923
Montgomery188313
Bradley187412
Sevier18307
Putnam171717
Trousdale15826
Robertson152119
Hamblen137214
Blount124310
Washington12002
Tipton11839
Maury11787
Madison102417
Sullivan93312
Bedford90811
Hardeman87517
Macon85613
Lake7820
Loudon7183
Bledsoe6901
Fayette6708
Gibson6705
Anderson6686
Dickson6662
Dyer6197
Cheatham5737
Jefferson5523
Henderson5472
Lawrence5346
McMinn52420
Rhea5221
Obion5194
Coffee5073
Warren4984
Carter4976
Lauderdale4878
Haywood4576
Hardin4538
Cocke4502
Greene4477
Smith4464
Hawkins4357
Roane4332
Cumberland4126
Monroe4079
Weakley3974
Giles36913
McNairy3665
DeKalb3392
Franklin3134
Carroll2903
Marshall2833
Lincoln2761
White2735
Henry2660
Crockett2604
Johnson2580
Claiborne2550
Hickman2530
Campbell2391
Wayne2252
Marion2164
Chester2112
Decatur1983
Polk1953
Grainger1940
Overton1751
Unicoi1560
Union1500
Cannon1420
Benton1391
Humphreys1203
Jackson1181
Scott1180
Grundy1112
Morgan1031
Sequatchie1020
Meigs1010
Fentress880
Hancock781
Perry770
Clay740
Stewart730
Lewis711
Moore600
Houston570
Van Buren350
Pickett311

Community Events