Giuliani Tries To ‘Clarify’ His Statements After Trump Throws Him Under The Bus

Rudy Giuliani tried to clean up the mess he created for his client earlier this week. He failed miserably.

Rudy Giuliani is trying to “clarify” his remarks earlier this week regarding the President’s knowledge of the payment made to Stormy Daniels in October 2016 on the eve of the Presidential election to buy her silence about her relationship with Trump dating back to when his wife was pregnant with their son. All he really did, though, was solidify what he said before and raise even further questions about the President’s involvement in the effort of his longtime attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen to silence Daniels on the eve of the election: (emphasis mine)

President Trump’s new lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani sought Friday to clean up a series of comments made during a whirlwind media tour meant to bolster the president’s standing regarding a payment to a porn star but that instead created new problems for his client.

In a statement issued hours after Trump told reporters Giuliani was still getting up to speed on the facts, the former New York mayor said that a $130,000 payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels by longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen would have happened regardless of whether Trump was on the presidential ballot the following month.

“The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the President’s family,” Giuliani said in the statement. “It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not.”

On Wednesday, Giuliani revealed that the president had reimbursed Cohen for the settlement Cohen paid in October 2016 to keep Daniels from disclosing details of a sexual encounter she alleged she had with Trump a decade earlier.

Giuliani has said that the details of the reimbursement showed that Trump paid back Cohen because it was a personal, not a campaign expense. But campaign finance law experts said Giuliani’s remarks did not rule out violations of campaign finance laws, and some of his statements may have actually provided new evidence for investigators.

Appearing Thursday on the Fox News Channel, for instance, Giuliani asked viewers to imagine if Daniels had aired her allegations “on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton.”

“Cohen didn’t even ask,” Giuliani told viewers. “Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”

In his statement, Giuliani also sought to make clear that he speaking in television interviews about his understanding of events in which Trump had been involved and not about what the president knew at the time. The distinction is important because if Giuliani publicly described a private conversation with the president, he might have inadvertently waived attorney-client privilege on that conversation, potentially opening the door for prosecutors to probe further into what was said.

One close Trump adviser said Giuliani had “waived the privilege big time” with his appearance on “Fox & Friends” and description of his conversations with his client, the president.

This adviser, who requested anonymnity to speak more candidly, said Giuliani’s misstatement came because he relied on Trump’s description of what happened, without independently researching the nature of the payments.

“Rudy followed the client’s wishes without knowing all the facts,” the person said.

Here’s the full text of Giuliani’s statement released earlier this afternoon:

This is intended to clarify the views I expressed over the past few days.

These are my views:

There is no campaign violation. The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the President’s family. It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not.

My references to timing were not describing my understanding of the President’s knowledge, but instead, my understanding of these matters.

It is undisputed that the President’s dismissal of former Director Comey – an inferior executive officer – was clearly within his Article II power. Recent revelations about former Director Comey further confirm the wisdom of the President’s decision, which was plainly in the best interests of our nation.

Giuliani’s statement came just hours after the President essentially threw his newest attorney under the bus, saying that he didn’t have all the facts when he made the comments he did on Fox News Channel on Wednesday night and Thursday morning:

President Trump undercut his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani on Friday, and said the former New York mayor will eventually get the facts right regarding a payment to a pornographic actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

“And virtually everything said has been said incorrectly, and it’s been said wrong, or it’s been covered wrong by the press,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Giuliani, who joined Mr. Trump’s legal team last month, “just started a day ago,” Mr. Trump said, speaking to reporters on Friday as he left Washington to attend a National Rifle Association convention in Dallas.

“He is a great guy,” Mr. Trump said. “He’ll get his facts straight.”

It was the first time the president addressed the inconsistent narrative about the payment made by his personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to the actress, Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels. Mr. Trump did not offer any details on Friday to clarify the confusion, but said, “It’s actually very simple. But there has been a lot of misinformation.”

Here’s the video of the statements Trump made to the press as he was boarding Marine One earlier today, and before he boarded Air Force One:

Giuliani’s attempted clarification does nothing to refute the statements he made on Fox News this week, nor do they change the potential impact that those statements could have on the ongoing criminal investigation of the transaction involving Daniels that became public in the wake of the search conducted on Cohen’s home and office. In his initial comments, of course, Giuliani revealed for the first time that President Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for the payment that he made to Daniels, allegedly in a series of payments of $35,000 each over an unspecified period of time. He also indicated that Trump was aware of the reason for the reimbursement he was making and stated specifically that he and Trump had discussed the matter and that Trump was the one who authorized him to make the statements that he did. Furthermore, in the wake of Giuliani’s comments the White House, in both an official written statement and in the response from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at yesterday’s press briefing, acknowledged what Giuliani had said and stated that he was speaking accurately. It was also reported that Trump and Giuliani planned the revelation of the President’s knowledge of the Cohen payment to Daniels without consulting either Trump’s attorney’s or any members of the White House staff. Given all of this, the effort to walk back Giuliani’s comments at this point is disingenuous and futile, especially since nothing he said today contradicts what he told Sean Hannity or the hosts on Fox & Friends. Finally, it is undisputed that what Giuliani said was completely at odds with what the President himself had said regarding his knowledge of the Cohen-Daniels transaction and what both his Administration and Michael Cohen had said about that same transaction. So, either Trump, the White House, and Cohen were lying or Giuliani is lying. Based on the available information, it seems to me to be fairly clear that

In a similar vein, Giuliani’s clarification today does nothing to contradict what he said regarding the reasons that President Trump fired James Comey nearly one year ago. As you’ll recall, Giuliani essentially confirmed that Trump had fired Comey due to the Russia investigation, and specifically due to the fact that Comey would not publicly state that Trump was not a target of that investigation. While Trump has recently tried to claim that his decision to fire Comey had nothing to do with a Russia investigation, that statement is contradicted by his own statements in the immediate aftermath of Comey’s dismissal. As the days went on after that firing on May 9th of last year, it quickly became more and more apparent that Comey was fired because of the President’s frustration with the Russia investigation, something that Trump himself seemed to confirm. Later, we learned that Trump had told the Russian Ambassador to the United States and the Russian Foreign Minister that he had fired Comey because of the Russia investigation just days after Comey’s dismissal. Finally, by the end of the week that had begun with Comey’s firing last year, Trump admitted that to Lester Holt of NBC News that he had fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. Giuliani’s comments this week confirmed all this again, and his clarification today did nothing to contradict that statement.

The effort to walk back Giuliani’s statements seems to be a clear recognition by the White House and by Trump’s legal team that Giuliani did grave damage to the President’s credibility with his statements, and that he may have inadvertently made his legal position more difficult as well. In both respects, it seems clear to me that it is an utter failure, and that the reality is that all he really did is to further confirm the validity of what he said initially. More importantly, it stands as confirmation of something that has become apparent over the course of the month that has passed since Michael Cohen came under the scope of a Federal investigation, namely the fact that Trump is far more concerned about the investigation into Cohen that’s going on in New York City than he is about Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation. Arguably, he should be concerned about both, but the manner in which he has acted suggests that he’s afraid of what could happen if Cohen flips in the same manner that men like Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, and Rick Gates have. Given the long relationship between the two, and the fact that Cohen likely knows everything there is to know about Trump’s business and personal affairs, perhaps there’s a good reason for that concern.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Kathy says:

    “The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the President’s family,” Giuliani said in the statement. “It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not.”

    There it is. The stupidest thing I’ll read this hour.

    Not long ago it would have done duty for a whole day, or more, but with the Moron Parade in Trump’s “legal team,” a day might as well be an eternity.

    Now, how to make sure Donnie keeps Rudy on board until the bitter end?

  2. Kylopod says:

    There’s been a debate going on over the past few days about whether Giuliani was being as laughably inept as he seemed, or whether this was some kind of 9-dimensional chess move. I think the answer couldn’t be clearer now.

  3. Mister Bluster says:

    The effort to walk back Giuliani’s statements seems to be a clear recognition by the White House and by Trump’s legal team that Giuliani did grave damage to the President’s credibility with his statements, and that he may have inadvertently made his legal position more difficult as well.

    Are we to assume that Trump’s legal team did not know that the President’s credibility has been minus zero up to now?
    Can they be this dumb?

  4. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    There may be limits to human intelligence, but that human stupidity knows no bounds.

  5. CSK says:

    This is insane. There’s no other word for it. Trump sent Giuliani out to Hannity to defend him. Trump, before and after, approves what Giuliani tells Hannity–at least, according to what Giuliani says, and Trump’s own Thursday morning Twitter feed. Someone semi-rational grabs hold of Trump and says, “No, you don’t get it. Giuliani just made things worse for you.” Trump then announces that he never knew anything about the payments, and then says Giuliani is a newbie and just now learning the facts. Trump’s own legal team and comm office don’t know what the hell is going on.

    This isn’t nine-dimensional chess. It’s fwcking Bedlam.

  6. Mister Bluster says:

    …there was once an insane asylum so notorious that its very name entered the English language as a word for chaos, mayhem, and confusion. That institution is London’s Bethlem Royal Hospital—nicknamed Bedlam.

  7. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I know. That’s why I used the name Bedlam.

  8. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..I figured you did.
    My post was for the benefit of Rudy and his boss just in case they log on to OTB.

  9. sam says:

    The perfect putz gets the perfect yutz for a lawyer.

  10. Joe says:


    9-dimensional Bedlam

  11. teve tory says:

    So now if they subpoena Rudy and ask him when trump knew about the payments, is Rudy in a “Perjury Trap”? 🙂 these guys are indeed the Keystone Kops.

  12. teve tory says:

    “In a unique deal for the good of the nation, announced late Friday night, every last member of the Administration has agreed to resign, board a plane for nicaragua, and promise to never come back, in exchange for us forgetting any of this ever happened.”

  13. CSK says:


    Yeah, that’s it. The 25th Amendment is looking mighty good.

  14. Kathy says:

    I bet Mike and Rudy wish they’d pay more attention during Hush Money Payoffs 101 in law school.

    I’m not a lawyer. But it seems to me Rudy, if he had to talk about this, should have said “Mr. Mangolini acted ethically in this matter, and we stand ready to prove it in court. ” Or words to that effect. If you go around blabbing all sorts of details, aren’t you just telling investigators where to look? Never mind making outright admissions, like Giuliani seems intent on.

  15. Joe Lindley says:

    Here’s a preview of next week’s episode of the New Rudy Show (catch it before it’s canceled):

  16. CSK says:


    Not to excuse Rudy’s multitudinous derelictions here, but honestly, how are you supposed to represent a client like Trump, who not only doesn’t take his lawyers’ advice, but actively goes against it and undercuts you in the process?

  17. MarkedMan says:

    In all seriousness, I wonder why they bother. Republicans don’t care about the truth and serious people can see this as the panicked adolescent lying that it is.

  18. Lounsbury says:

    @Mister Bluster: One can reasonably guess there could be fear of undermining Plausible Deniability chez Republican Party members who are reluctant Trumpists.
    Undermining the defence at the margins.

  19. Lounsbury says:

    Ahem:”So, either Trump, the White House, and Cohen were lying or Giuliani is lying. Based on the available information, it seems to me to be fairly clear that” … unfinished statement / cut off statement leaves me with a wee doubt as to your inclination.

  20. de stijl says:

    Take ten seconds and look at the top picture for this post.

    Notice the flag? See how it has a fringe? See the fringe sensuously caressing Rudy’s rosy cheek?

    My goodness! Sovereign Citizen-types will be freaking the eff out when they see that photo! Those dudes (they’re always guys – it’s a white, male affliction) have this very weird theory about US flags with fringes. Well, they have weird theories about basically everything. Like sheriffs.

  21. An Interested Party says:

    All of this is so surreal…if someone made a movie based on all of this, no one would believe it could ever be true…these idiots are far more ridiculous than anything you could see in Doctor Strangelove or Team America: World Police or a dozen other political satires…and this is what Republicans have hitched their wagons to? Dummies…

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: And me. The things I learn here (or as in this case, relearn)