Giuliani says Trump repaid lawyer for Stormy Daniels hush money

US president appears to confirm payment on Twitter but says no campaign funds used

Former federal prosecutor and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has said that President Trump had reimbursed his lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the money he had paid adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence. Video: Reuters

 

Donald Trump personally repaid his lawyer Michael Cohen the $130,000 hush money given to the adult-film star Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 presidential election to buy her silence over an alleged affair, Rudy Giuliani said on Wednesday night.

In an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, the former mayor of New York, who recently joined Mr Trump’s legal team dealing with the Russian investigation, let out the bombshell detail that the US president fully repaid the hush money.

The disclosure contradicts Mr Trump’s own firm statement, made on Air Force One last month, that he had no knowledge of his private lawyer Michael Cohen having paid Daniels the $130,000 sum.

On the Hannity show, Mr Giuliani insisted that the payment to Daniels, who claims she had sex with Mr Trump in 2006 at a golf tournament in Nevada, was entirely legal and broke no campaign finance laws.

“So they funnelled it through the law firm,” Hannity asked, referring to Mr Cohen’s legal practice.

“Funnelled it through the law firm,” Mr Giuliani concurred, “and the president repaid it.”

Hannity appeared to be surprised by the revelation. “Oh, I didn’t know that he did.”

“Yup,” said Mr Giuliani.

Michael Avenatti, who represents Daniels, told CNBC: “This is exactly what we predicted would ultimately be shown. Every American, regardless of their politics, should be outraged.”

Trump tweets

In a series of tweets on Thursday morning, Mr Trump said Mr Cohen received a monthly retainer, from which he entered into a non-disclosure agreement with Daniels. He said agreement was used to stop Daniels making “false and extortionist allegations” about an affair.

“Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll [sic] in this transaction,” he said.

By disclosing Mr Trump’s own financial involvement in the hush money, Mr Giuliani and the president might be making the calculation that pain today is merited to minimize even greater grief further down the line. White House aides have been seriously concerned about the fallout of the FBI raid in April on the premises of Mr Cohen’s law firm.

But it also puts Mr Trump in a difficult position in which he has to answer for his apparent contradictions over the handling of Stormy Daniels’ allegations in the final run-up to the 2016 election. Asked by reporters on April 5th while on board the official presidential jet whether he knew of the $130,000 payment, he bluntly replied: “No”.

Mr Trump only finally admitted that Mr Cohen had represented him in the Daniels negotiations last week. “He represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me,” he said, again on Fox News.

But even then, Mr Trump made no mention of the repayment, now made public by Mr Giuliani.

Deep worry

Under questioning from Hannity, Mr Giuliani went on in the Wednesday night interview to provide further details.

He said that the $130,000 was initially paid for by Mr Cohen but then “the president had reimbursed him over a period of several months”.

Asked by Hannity whether Mr Trump had known about the payment, Mr Giuliani said: “He didn’t know about the specifics as far as I know, but he did know about the general arrangement. Michael would take care of things like this.”

Mr Giuliani alluded to the deep worry, bordering on panic, that had taken hold of the White House over the Daniels affair. “Everybody was nervous about this from the very beginning,” he said. Then he added: “I wasn’t.”

He went on: “I know how much Donald Trump put into that campaign. I said, ‘$130,000. You are going to do a couple of checks for $130,000’.” – Guardian