Rudy Giuliani: Sure, Trump Reimbursed Cohen For That Stormy Daniels Payment

Rudy Giuliani threw a live grenade into the middle of the Stormy Daniels affair last night, and he's made things much, much worse for his client.

After months of denying that there was any connection between President and the payment that Michael Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in October 2016 to keep her silent about her relationship with Donald Trump, one of the President’s newest attorneys now says that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment:

WASHINGTON — President Trump reimbursed Michael D. Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer, for a $130,000 payment that Mr. Cohen has said he made to keep a pornographic film actress from going public before the 2016 election with her story about an affair with Mr. Trump, according to Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of the president’s lawyers.

That statement, which Mr. Giuliani made Wednesday night on Fox News, contradicted the president, who has said he had no knowledge about any payment to the actress, Stephanie Clifford, to keep quiet before the election.

Asked specifically last month by reporters aboard Air Force One whether he knew about the payment, Mr. Trump said, “No,” and referred questions to Mr. Cohen. He was then asked, “Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?”

“No,” Mr. Trump responded. “I don’t know.”

In an interview with The New York Times shortly after his Fox News appearance, Mr. Giuliani, the former New York mayor and longtime Trump confidant who recently joined the president’s legal team, said that he had documentation showing that Mr. Trump had personally made the payment. Mr. Giuliani indicated that the goal was to conclusively demonstrate that there was no campaign finance violation involved.

“That removes the campaign finance violation, and we have all the documentary proof for it,” he said. Mr. Giuliani added that when the initial payment was made, Mr. Cohen did it “on his own authority.”

“Some time after the campaign is over, they set up a reimbursement, $35,000 a month, out of his personal family account,” Mr. Giuliani said. He added that over all, Mr. Cohen was paid $460,000 or $470,000 from Mr. Trump through those payments, which also included money for “incidental expenses” that he had incurred on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

Mr. Giuliani said that he had spoken with the president before and after his interview on Fox News, and that Mr. Trump and other lawyers on the team were aware of what he would say.

The president has repeatedly denied that he had an affair with Ms. Clifford, who has described having intimate contact with Mr. Trump before he became president.

Mr. Giuliani’s comments are also in direct contrast to what Mr. Cohen has been saying for months — that he used his own money to pay Ms. Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels. Mr. Cohen is under investigation by the F.B.I., which raided his home and office last month and seized documents that included information about the payment to Ms. Clifford.

“They funneled through a law firm, and the president repaid it,” Mr. Giuliani told Sean Hannity, the Fox News host. After Mr. Hannity asked for clarification, Mr. Giuliani insisted: “That was money that was paid by his lawyer. The president reimbursed that over the period of several months.”

The source of the $130,000 payment is at the center of several legal disputes involving Mr. Trump, Mr. Cohen and Ms. Clifford. That includes whether the payment to Ms. Clifford was in effect a contribution to Mr. Trump’s campaign aimed at preventing a negative article from surfacing just before Election Day.

Mr. Giuliani said that Mr. Cohen had “settled several problems for” Mr. Trump, and that the payment related to them. Another person familiar with the payment confirmed that that was the mechanism used to repay Mr. Cohen.

Mr. Giuliani said that he was “not clear that” Mr. Trump was aware of the payment to Ms. Clifford at the time it was made, and he said that his understanding was that the president did not learn about the payment to her until recently.

“I don’t think he did” know “until now,” Mr. Giuliani said.

The comments on Fox sent a jolt through Washington and New York, including the legal teams working on behalf of the president, Mr. Cohen and Ms. Clifford, who has sued Mr. Cohen in an attempt to be released from the nondisclosure agreement that accompanied the $130,000 payment in October 2016.

Here’s the video of Giuliani’s statements on Hannity’s show last night:

Giuliani spoke with The Washington Post’s Robert Costa shortly after the Hannity interview and revealed even more about Trump’s payments to Cohen, including the fact that he apparently reimbursed his longtime lawyer and “fixer” for as-yet-unexplained matters in amounts that exceed $30,000:

Later, Giuliani said in an interview with The Washington Post that when Cohen paid the settlement to actress Stormy Daniels, he knew he would eventually get paid back by Trump, as he was for other expenses.

Giuliani said it was his understanding that repayment from Trump came in a series of transactions after the election that he believes were completed in 2017 but could have included a reimbursement in 2018.

“The president was always going to make sure he got it back, and enough money to pay the taxes,” Giuliani said. “There probably were other things of a personal nature that Michael took care of for which the president would have always trusted him as his lawyer . . . and that was paid back out of the rest of the money, and Michael earned a fee out of it.”

Giuliani said that even though Trump reimbursed Cohen, he does not know when the president learned of the nature of the payment Cohen had made to Daniels. Giuliani said the president didn’t learn many of the details about the settlement until the past two weeks, in the wake of an FBI raid on Cohen’s office and residence.

“I don’t know if he distinguished it from other things Cohen might have done for him during the campaign,” Giuliani said, adding, “He trusted Michael, and Michael trusted him.”

Last month, a reporter on Air Force One pressed Trump about the payment, asking him, “Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?”

Trump responded, “No.”

The reporter then asked, “Then why did Michael Cohen make [the payment], if there was no truth to her allegations?”

“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” Trump said. “Michael’s my attorney, and you’ll have to ask Michael.”

Another reporter asked the president, “Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?”

“No,” Trump said. “I don’t know.”

Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating Cohen’s business practices, including whether there were any crimes committed as part of a possible pattern or strategy in 2016 of buying the silence of people who could have damaged Trump’s candidacy, according to people familiar with the probe.

Cohen has said he arranged the financing of the settlement with Daniels through his home-equity line of credit. In a statement earlier this year, he did not mention any role by Trump.

“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 said, using Daniels’s real name, Stephanie Clifford.

(…)

“Everyone in Trump world will see this as a total unforced error and further affirmation that hiring Rudy wasn’t the best idea,” said one presidential adviser, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the internal dynamics.

However, Giuliani told The Post that he and Trump discussed the fact that he planned to disclose that Trump reimbursed Cohen.

“Oh, yeah, yeah,” he said. “Sure, sure. He was well aware that at some point when I saw the opportunity, I was going to get this over with.”

In another follow-up interview with Buzzfeed, Giuliani stated that the repayment to Cohen was made over the course of several months in the amount of $35,000 per month and that they were made out of President Trump’s personal funds. This would mean that the payments were made over the course of a roughly four-month period. While Giuliani didn’t specify when the repayments were made, this would mean that the majority of payments were made while Trump was President. The most interesting thing about both the Buzzfeed interview and the interview with Costa, though, is the fact that Rudy implied that the reimbursements to Cohen involved more than just the Daniels payoff, but also other matters as well as “the taxes,” whatever that means. It can’t be a reference to the Daniels payment itself because Cohen would not be on the hook for any taxes. Instead, it suggests that there were other matters that Cohen had handled for Trump, perhaps during the course of the campaign and perhaps matters that payoffs to other people to buy their silence during the course of the Presidential campaign.

The President tweeted about Giuliani’s statements this morning and essentially confirmed everything that Giuliani said, while at the same time opening himself up to further claims against him by Daniels:

Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing Stormy Daniels in her ongoing legal matters, responded to Giuliani’s statements last night:

The extent to which what Giuliani said last night, and what the President tweeted this morning,  contradicts everything that Trump, the White House, and Michael Cohen have all said regarding the payment to Daniels and the circumstances behind the October 2016 agreement that formed the basis for that payment. Up until now, the President has specifically denied that he knew anything about Cohen’s dealings with Daniels, that he knew nothing about the payment to Daniels, and that he did not reimburse Cohen for the payment. The line from the White House and the Trump legal team mirrored what the President was saying. As for Cohen, before he stopped speaking to the press after his office and home were searched by the F.B.I., Cohen was stating that Trump knew nothing about the payment to Daniels and that he made the payment on his own without the expectation of reimbursement, and that he was in fact never reimbursed.

What Giuliani said last night completely contradicts all of that. It contradicts what Trump has said in the past, what the White House has said in the past, and what Cohen has said in the past. Based on Trump’s tweet’s this morning it’s clear that what Giuliani said last night is true, and that everything we’ve heard for the past several months from the Trump/White House/Cohen side of the aisle has been a bald-faced lie. Besides, Giuliani is now Trump’s attorney, and it’s inconceivable that he would make statements like this without clearing them with the President.

All that being said, it seems rather obvious that Giuliani has made things much, much worse for his client. Based on his statement to Hannity, Giuliani seems to think that the fact that no money from the campaign was used to reimburse Cohen for the payment to Daniels means that there were no campaign finance laws violated and that there are other potential violations of the law involved in the payment. This is so wrong is hard to even know where to begin.

The issue with the Cohen payment has never been about whether money from the Trump campaign was used to pay Stormy Daniels. The question has been whether the payment could qualify as an illegal undisclosed in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign. While it would have also been a violation of campaign finance laws for the campaign to have reimbursed Cohen out of campaign funds without disclosing it, the in-kind contribution issue is separate and apart from that. Giuliani’s admission seems to me to make it more likely than not that the payment to Daniels was, in fact, an in-kind contribution to the campaign in that its purpose was to benefit Trump’s campaign by buying Daniels’ silence on the eve of this election. In this respect, it doesn’t even matter if the allegations that Daniels was making were true or not, the issue is that Cohen decided to buy her silence for the express purpose of benefiting the campaign.

Rick Hasen comments on the campaign finance law issues at Slate:

If what Giuliani says is true, and if the payments were made to help the campaign and not (just) to help Trump personally, the campaign may be implicated in illegal activity. If Trump knew that Cohen was advancing him a $130,000 loan for campaign purposes, that would have to be reported by the campaign, as would the payments Giuliani said Trump made in installments to Cohen. These would be campaign expenditures that the committee has to keep track of. As Philip Bump notes, if the Trump Organization facilities were used to help make these payments, then there may be additional campaign violations related to the use of corporate resources for campaigns.

Although many campaign finance violations are handled just as fines, as Giuliani seemed to suggest in his Hannity interview Wednesday night, that’s not true for willful violations of campaign finance law, especially those implicating the public interest. Those can lead to criminal liability. If there was an unreported six-figure loan to the campaign to pay off someone who had an affair with a presidential candidate, with repayments facilitated through corporate resources, that seems like a serious enough violation to merit review by the Justice Department.

In addition to the campaign law violations, which wouldn’t necessarily lead to criminal charges, Giuliani’s admission also opens up the potential that the payment to Daniels could give rise to other potential criminal charges. The fact that Cohen was apparently reimbursed surreptitiously for the payment to Daniels, among other things, raises potential money laundering issues, for example. Additionally, since Cohen has said in the past that he took out a bank loan for the purpose of making the payment to Daniels raises the possibility that there could be bank, wire, and mail fraud issues could be implicated by this payment. Finally, there is the fact that even though Trump’s past statements about Daniels and the payment completely contradict what Giuliani said last night, and what the President tweeted this morning this could nonetheless have a serious impact on the President’s credibility in any legal proceedings related to this matter going forward. Rather than make things better for his client, Giuliani has made things much, much worse both from a legal and a public relations point of view.

On a final note, Trump himself dug the hole even deeper with his own tweets this morning. As I noted yesterday, Stormy Daniels has already filed a defamation lawsuit against the President for his claim that she had fabricated the claim that she had been threatened to remain silent about her relationship with Trump by an as-yet-unidentified man who confronted her in the parking lot. This morning, Trump accused Daniels of lying about the underlying allegations she has made regarding their relationship in 2005 and 2006. This could potentially give Daniels another ground for a defamation claim, which I’m sure her already aggressive attorney is already thinking about.

It’s not even nine in the morning on the East Coast, folks, and this has already turned into an entirely surreal news day.

Update: Giuliani appeared on Fox & Friends this morning and appeared to dig the hole even further:

A day after contradicting Donald Trump’s and longtime Trump general counsel Michael Cohen’s claims that the president knew nothing about Cohen’s payments to Stormy Daniels, Rudy Giuliani contradicted himself in a Fox & Friends interview.

The former New York City Mayor and current Trump legal team member insisted that the payments were personal, not political — but moments later demonstrated that they were indeed campaign related.

On Thursday morning, Giuliani first said that the payment was to protect the Trump family from a “six year old, false allegation” that Donald Trump had had an extramarital affair.

“If we had to defend this as not being a campaign contribution, I think we could do that,” he said. “This is for personal reasons. The was the president had been hurt personally, not politically, personally so much — and the first lady — by some of the false allegations.  That one more false allegation six years old, I think [Cohen] was trying to help the family. For that he’s treated like some kind of villain.”

Giuliani added that the $130,000 payment was “to save not so much their marriage, as much as their reputation.”

But then moments later, Giuliani noted the political reason for the payment. “Imagine if that came out of October 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton…” he said. “Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”

If Cohen indeed made the payment — either as a gift or even as a loan without interest — to aid Trump politically, it could be considered an illegal and unreported campaign contribution in excess of the $2,700 federal contribution limit that was in effect for the 2016 campaign.

Here’s the video of Giuliani on Fox & Friends:

Again, rather than helping his client, Giuliani has made things much, much worse.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds 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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mu says:

    The question to me is, was this aimed at the arbitration issue lawsuit. The thinking being if DJT paid Cohen he was part of the contract, the NDA is valid, Stormy can’t testify as to defamation, and we deal with the banking/campaign issues when they’re up.




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  2. teve tory says:

    Asked specifically last month by reporters aboard Air Force One whether he knew about the payment, Mr. Trump said, “No,” and referred questions to Mr. Cohen. He was then asked, “Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?”

    “No,” Mr. Trump responded. “I don’t know.”

    It’s almost like trump doesn’t tell the truth or something.




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  3. Daryl’s other brother Darryl says:

    Waiting for MBinge to stop in and explain this 3-D chess move for us.




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  4. MarkedMan says:

    Doug, I’m not sure I understand why you are saying that Giuliani’s comments made things worse for the Prez. Isn’t it simply that Trump’s lies were eventually going to be exposed and Giuliani and Trump decided it was better to do it on a sycophant’s show than in court testimony in say, October?




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  5. @MarkedMan:

    Who knows what their reasoning is. Assuming they reasoned at all.




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  6. I can't believe it's not butter says:

    At 73, Giulianni is a candidate early-onset Alzheimer’s, so that explains his comments, I guess. On Trump’s tweet, I got nuthin’. Acres and acres of it.




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  7. By the way folks, Giuliani appeared on Fox & Friends this morning and just made things worse for everyone. I’ve added something about that as an update. I also added a comment from election law expert Rick Hasen on the campaign finance side of the equation to the main body of the post that’s worth checking out.

    Apologies for the length of the post, but it was rather unavoidable. The potential consequences of what Rudy has done here cannot be understated.




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  8. teve tory says:

    All that being said, it seems rather obvious that Giuliani has made things much, much worse for his client. Based on his statement to Hannity, Giuliani seems to think that the fact that no money from the campaign was used to reimburse Cohen for the payment to Daniels means that there were no campaign finance laws violated and that there are other potential violations of the law involved in the payment. This is so wrong is hard to even know where to begin.

    Keystone Kops.




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  9. teve tory says:

    On Thursday morning, Giuliani first said that the payment was to protect the Trump family from a “six year old, false allegation” that Donald Trump had had an extramarital affair.

    Oh Come On. I doubt even the Trumpers can believe the Daniels affair didn’t happen. I know it’s Sean Hannity’s audience he’s talking to, but christ.




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  10. Pete S says:

    I see this another way. Giuliani seems to be conducting himself like a lawyer who knows he is not going to be paid and does not appreciate it. He is 73 and has not been an actual working lawyer for years. What does he care if he gets disbarred?




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  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    You get what you pay for.




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  12. Lounsbury says:

    Was this not part of the same interview:
    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/03/giuliani-trump-fired-comey-because-he-wouldnt-tell-him-he-wasnt-a-target.html

    Rudy Giuliani: President Trump fired James Comey because he wouldn’t say he wasn’t a target of the Russia investigation
    Rudy Giuliani said President Trump’s motive for firing FBI Director James Comey was that Comey would not say that he wasn’t a target of an investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
    “He fired him and he said, ‘I’m free of this guy,'” Giuliani said of Trump’s firing of Comey.
    Giuliani made the revelation during an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

    For the love of God, what the bloody f**k are they doing?




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  13. @Lounsbury:

    Yea, the Comey stuff is another subject altogether.




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  14. rachel says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It’s truer to say that you always pay for what you get.




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  15. CSK says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Just playing to the Trumpkins, one supposes. Remember that Trump maintains that at least 60% of the country loves him and believes in him.




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  16. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Is everyone still upset that Michelle Wolf called Sarah Sanders a liar?




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  17. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Rudy Giuliani: President Trump fired James Comey because he wouldn’t say he wasn’t a target of the Russia investigation

    Yup…pretty much the definition of obstruction.




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  18. Kathy says:

    Rudy was mayor of NYC, where he accrued a rather good record. He’s credited with lowering crime in the city, and weathered the 9/11 attacks rather well.

    In 2008 he was the front runner for the GOP presidential nomination. He lost. But then 8 years later this clueless upstart, who has no relevant experience and is not qualified to scoop dog do off the sidewalk, just goes and cruises to the nomination, and worse yet, wins the general election.

    I think Giuliani is out for revenge.




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  19. CSK says:

    I suspect, now, that Giuliani’s performance last night and this morning was in response to the fact that he and Trump know what Cohen has told Mueller, and that admitting that Trump knew about the payments and reimbursed Cohen is better than lying about it under oath down the road,




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  20. Franklin says:

    I almost feel sorry for the poor depleted brains of Trumpaloons trying to resolve their dissonances this morning. Not even giving themselves a good old-fashioned “but Clinton” could help at this point.




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  21. teve tory says:

    @CSK: Giuliani admitted shortly afterward that he called trump and trump was happy. They appear to be trying to get ahead of a story they knew was gonna come out.




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  22. Franklin says:

    @Kathy: LOL, excellent theory!




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  23. teve tory says:

    @Franklin: one trumper on brit hume’s twitter thread is taking the route that it wasn’t an illegal campaign contribution / reimbursement because it was just a retainer that happened to be the same size, and retainers are legal.




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  24. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: SDNY seized cubic yards and terabytes of material from Cohen. If Trump, via Giuliani, is going to start copping to everything the Feds got from Cohen, FOX better start an all Rudy, all the time channel.




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  25. CSK says:

    @teve tory:

    Yeah, I think that’s it. And…Giuliani did say that he and Trump had discussed it before Giuliani went on the show. So this was a pre-emptive strike.

    Now all they have to do is figure out what else Cohen might have said, or be in the process of saying. Cohen’s been doing Trump’s dirty work for 12 years now.




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  26. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:

    Sean Hannity’s going to be a busy little bee.




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  27. Kathy says:

    BTW, at last measurement, the nothingburger was approaching the size of Jupiter.




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  28. teve tory says:

    This was probably necessitated by them realizing Cohen has already told Mueller about it. I wonder what next revelation will come.




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  29. CSK says:

    @teve tory:

    Whatever it is, it probably won’t be long in coming.




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  30. teve tory says:

    Rudy Giuliani by Monday: “Sure there’s a pee tape. It’s going on PornHub in a week.”
    Rudy Giuliani by Wednesday: “Of course trump called putin and asked if the FSB could do anything to help.”
    Sean Hannity starts appearing on his show visibly drunk….




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  31. dmichael says:

    Two points (the second one minor): Please note the serial tweets allegedly from Trump this morning. They consist of rather careful wording from someone who can write coherently, therefore they were not written by Trump. Second, to Kathy: There are lots of folks who disagree with your statement that Giuliani “accrued a rather good record” while mayor of NYC. For one, he insisted, over the objections of security professionals to put the command center for emergencies in the Twin Towers before the attack. Also, several of the first responding units couldn’t communicate with each because of planning errors.




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  32. CSK says:

    I also liked the part where Rudy said that if Mueller went after Ivanka, he’d grab his lance, mount his horse, and ride to her rescue. But Jared? “He’s disposable.”

    At first I laughed when Giuliani compared Jared to a used Kleenex, but now I wonder if he’s paving the way for the kid to be thrown under the bus by his daddy-in-law. Or he’s suggesting that Mueller really is going to turn the old Gatling gun on Kushner.

    Good times.




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  33. Cory says:

    If it wasn’t obvious from the start, it should be now. Mueller’s team is an All-Pro team. Team Trump is a pee-wee football team. Trump better hope beyond hope that he’s clean, because if he’s not (Spoiler alert: He isn’t) then Mueller will tear him to pieces and find no resistance on his way to doing so




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  34. Tony W says:

    @CSK:

    and ride to her rescue.

    The internet has ruined me.

    I read this completely differently at first.




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  35. Kylopod says:

    Rudy’s Razor. Let’s not assume Rudy is doing all this as part of some strategy, or that he’s deliberately set out to screw Trump. Most likely, he’s just flailing, desperate, and inept. I’m half expecting Will Ferrell to appear as Trump and say “It turns out I was the smart one.”




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  36. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Still waiting for Binge, JKB, Guarneri, TMzero, John420, et al to come along and explain this master-stroke of legal defense to us….




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  37. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    I said this when the Stormy Daniels thing first started to pop…and I’ll say it again; the biggest part of this story is that it shows just how open to extortion Dennison really is, whether by a porn star or the President of Russia.




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  38. teve tory says:

    Peter Alexander

    NEW: Sarah Sanders refuses to answer multiple questions about why she and Trump made statements about Stormy Daniels payment that we now know aren’t true.
    Sanders says she can’t comment due to ongoing litigation.

    5:56 AM – 3 May 2018




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  39. Kathy says:

    @dmichael:

    Second, to Kathy: There are lots of folks who disagree with your statement that Giuliani “accrued a rather good record” while mayor of NYC.

    Oh, absolutely. But crime did fall in his terms, he was popular while in office, he was very popular with the GOP since, and had a very good shot at the nomination. Early on in the 08 campaign season, the assumption for November was Giuliani vs Clinton. He must be really sore about it.




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  40. CSK says:

    @teve tory:

    Well, what the hell is she going to say? “Yes, that flabby cretin lied, and so did I”?




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  41. Kylopod says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Still waiting for Binge, JKB, Guarneri, TMzero, John420, et al to come along and explain this master-stroke of legal defense to us….

    I’m predicting a string of glorious whataboutism.




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  42. Roger says:

    “The most interesting thing about both the Buzzfeed interview and the interview with Costa, though, is the fact that Rudy implied that the reimbursements to Cohen involved more than just the Daniels payoff, but also other matters as well as “the taxes,” whatever that means. It can’t be a reference to the Daniels payment itself because Cohen would not be on the hook for any taxes.”

    Lawyers pay taxes on their income. When you try to launder the money you’re using to reimburse your lawyer for the money he (perhaps illegally) advanced on your behalf by calling it a retainer, the lawyer will pay income taxes on the money you pay him. I took this to mean that Trump paid Cohen the amount Cohen paid Daniels, plus enough to cover Cohen’s tax liability on that money, plus a little sweetener for his trouble.




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  43. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Ladies and gentlemen, America’s Mayor!

    In the thread of the post announcing Giuliani’s addition to Team Stupid – Legal Eagles, I asked if this is what the bottom of the barrel looked like.

    And I’m confident we can all answer: Yes. Yes it is.




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  44. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    had a very good shot at the nomination

    I would dispute that. Sure, he was leading the polls for some time in 2007, but it was always an illusion. His campaign never really imploded, it’s more like voters just sort of woke up and realized they’d be voting for a pro-choice, pro-gay candidate. He was running as the national security tough-guy and war hawk, but they already had John McCain, who had a comparatively orthodox GOP record.

    I’m aware that many people attribute Rudy’s failure to his decision to ignore Iowa, NH, and South Carolina and focus on Florida. However, the entire reason he adopted that strategy in the first place was because he knew he wasn’t gaining any traction in those early states. It was the desperate, Hail-Mary move of a doomed campaign, not a fatal misstep by a healthy one.




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  45. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    An interesting read by Jon Chait:

    At some point, the power of Trump’s government will either break the rule of law, or be broken by it.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/05/giuliani-fbi-stormtroopers-and-trumps-authoritarianism-mueller.html
    Dennison is going to test our democracy in ways it hasn’t been tested. Who here thinks it survives?




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  46. Giuliani never really had a shot at the nomination in 2008. He was leading in a lot of the early polling in 2007 and before that mostly based on name recognition and the legacy of the 9/11 attacks. Once the campaign started, though, things quickly fell apart for him. He was not competitive at all in the Iowa Caucuses, came in fourth place in New Hampshire, and in sixth place in South Carolina. His campaign said at the time he was putting all his money into a big win in Florida, which coincidentally what Marco Rubio’s campaign would say eight years later, and came in third place there.

    In the end, Giuliani spent $20,000,000 and won a single delegate to the Republican Convention. Perhaps the biggest failure since John Connolly in 1980.




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  47. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’m predicting a string of glorious whataboutism.

    https://twitter.com/davidplouffe/status/992019886242070530




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  48. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’m predicting a string of glorious whataboutism.

    “What about Nixon?” just doesn’t pack the same punch.




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  49. Gustopher says:

    “Some time after the campaign is over, they set up a reimbursement, $35,000 a month, out of his personal family account,” Mr. Giuliani said. He added that over all, Mr. Cohen was paid $460,000 or $470,000 from Mr. Trump through those payments, which also included money for “incidental expenses” that he had incurred on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

    If Stormy Daniels got $130,000, then that means $330,000 in incidentals.

    Since the Trump story is always more absurd and sad than you can predict, I’m going to assume that the “incidentals” involve him repeatedly seeing the escort that Elliot Spitzer was using.




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  50. MarkedMan says:

    Trump is an imbecile. Im not arguing that. And i don’t have any respect for Giuliani. But I have yet to see a good argument as to what Giuliani said about the payments on Hannity was so bad. )Yes, I understand his comments today were a disaster.)

    So a question our OTB Lawyer Irregulars: given that Trump’s lie was going to come out both to prosecutors and Daniels lawyers and that it was going to be made public, was there anything about those initial Giuliani comments that did additional damage?




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  51. teve tory says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Lawyers can go into what kind of campaign finance laws were broken better than me, but there’s also the fact that trump told everyone last month that he didn’t know anything about any payment Cohen made, and you’d have to ask Cohen. Now it comes out that trump set up pricey reimbursement payments last year.




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  52. MarkedMan says:

    FWIW I lived in upstate NY in a small town during and after 9/11 that was also home to a lot of NYC firemen and police. In fact our small community lost 3 firefighters that day. And without exception every firefighter and policeman I met absolutely detested Rudy Giuliani. There were many reasons but number one on everyone’s list: they believed that Rudy’s 9/11 grandstanding and photo ops took the police and fire top brass out of the chain of command during the most crucial part of the disaster and that caused additional deaths of their coworkers and the citizens they were trying to save.




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  53. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Mu:

    Missing the point. These people are world class morons.

    Guiliani just characterized Trump as having REPAID Cohen, instead of characterizing it as Trump giving Cohen the money with which to buy off Daniels.

    It’s the difference between a private payment by Trump from his own funds directly to someone, which he’s essentially allowed to do without running afoul of federal election law, and Cohen making an illegal campaign contribution, which Trump then reimbursed him for.

    Rudy just managed to admit on national television that Trump and Cohen conspired to violate federal law. You shouldn’t need me to tell you what effect that will have on the assertion of privilege with respect to Cohen’s seized materials. Privilege can’t protect a conspiracy to violate the law.

    Rudy was never much of a criminal lawyer to begin with, and he’s been out of the game too long to be anywhere close to what he’s trying to accomplish here.

    Fun part – apparently nobody else in the White House is in the loop. Giuliani talks to Trump and goes on TV. Trump has, as we all hoped he would, evidently decided to be his own communications director and he’s circumventing the staff. Aides are saying privately that they can no longer control the situation

    LOL, what could possibly go wrong there? 🙂




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  54. MarkedMan says:

    @teve tory: I understand that, but it was a lie that was going to come out. My question is about how Giuliani chose to reveal it. Is there an argument that he made the best of a bad situation? What muddies the water is that he clearly screwed the pooch today.




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  55. teve tory says:

    If Stormy Daniels got $130,000, then that means $330,000 in incidentals.

    Since the Trump story is always more absurd and sad than you can predict, I’m going to assume that the “incidentals” involve him repeatedly seeing the escort that Elliot Spitzer was using.

    I’m with you, those numbers suggest more women, or at least unknown other blackmail problems.




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  56. teve tory says:

    @MarkedMan: Why was today worse than yesterday?




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  57. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I stand corrected, but I also stand by my joke.

    My defense is that Rudy is about 6 million times more qualified to be president than Trump (a random person taken off the streets is only 5.9 million times more qualified, so that’s something). So seeing this clown win where he lost must be galling.




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  58. michael reynolds says:

    NYT’s Mike Schmitt reported on Maddow last night that Trump’s legal team is “unnerved” because Trump won’t tell them what Cohen’s got. If Trump won’t tell his own lawyers what’s going on, it’s likely more than more payoffs to women. I’m going to go way, way out on a speculative limb (even further than @Gustopher🙂 and suggest: love child.




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  59. teve tory says:

    I didn’t notice this before, but Giuliani also said

    Well, the original payment from Cohen was sometime right before the election. The repayments took place over a period of time, probably in 2017, probably all paid back by the end of 2017. That and probably a few other situations that might have been considered campaign expenses.

    shit.




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  60. teve tory says:

    @michael reynolds: Almost certainly while he was married.




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  61. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @teve tory:

    Mmhmm. That translates to “my client conspired with his attorney to violate federal election laws – regarding multiple matters“.

    Once evidently wasn’t bad enough. They had to go for multiple causes for indictment. 🙄

    Trump talking to this moron, and then letting this moron speak for him publicly as his attorney, will go down in the annals of legal history as the dumbest move ever made by a sitting president.

    Hell, I’d characterize it as one of the dumbest moves ever made by anyone potentially facing indictment. Rudy’s not qualified to draft a will at this point, much less steer this sinking ship of a defense.




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  62. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    @michael reynolds:
    Emmett Flood must have woken up this am wanting to shoot himself.




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  63. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    More than one love child? The Enquirer paid Dino the Doorman to hush up about the housekeeper’s kid.




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  64. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Emmet’s one hell of a smart attorney. I’d be looking for him to suddenly remember where the exit door is any moment now.

    The only possible way that I could see him staying – and he’d be a fool to do so at this point, when it’s too late to contain the mess – would be Trump agreeing to show Giuliani the door. Emmet’s no fool …




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  65. MarkedMan says:

    @teve tory: Because today he contradicted what he has been claiming (payoffs were personal and not campaign related) by helpfully pointing out that Cohen had done his job to insure this didn’t come out as an October surprise just before the election.




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  66. Kylopod says:

    @teve tory:

    Why was today worse than yesterday?

    C’mon. Passover has already passed this year.




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  67. Hal_10000 says:

    I keep thinking to myself, “It’s gotten as dumb as it’s going to get. It can’t get any dumber.” And then the Trumpists manage to break through to a lower level.




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  68. teve tory says:

    I assumed it was understood that of course big cash payments right before the election were political, but then when he said it explicitly today he did make it worse. I probly don’t have a good separation of the two events because they both happened when i was offline and it rolled into my twitter feed as one long stream this morning.




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  69. grumpy realist says:

    Considering how much muck Trump has been involved with, why are he and Cohen in so much a panic about THIS case?

    What’s getting covered up?




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  70. Charon says:

    FEC

    The Federal Election Commission is clear that Cohen’s loan to Trump cannot be considered Trump’s money.

    Not considered the candidate’s personal funds
    Personal gifts and loans

    If any person, including a relative or friend of the candidate, gives or loans the candidate money “for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office,” the funds are not considered personal funds of the candidate even if they are given to the candidate directly. Instead, the gift or loan is considered a contribution from the donor to the campaign, subject to the per-election limit and reportable by the campaign. This is true even if the candidate uses the funds for personal living expenses while campaigning.




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  71. Charon says:

    BooMan

    Trump’s new attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has now made appearances on both Fox & Friends and Sean Hannity’s television program and made quite clear both that Michael Cohen loaned Donald Trump $130,000 and that the purpose of the loan was to prevent his affair with Stormy Daniels from becoming a topic in the third and final presidential debate.

    It’s true that Giuliani has also offered other motives for the pay-off, including saving Trump from embarrassment and preventing possible problems in his marriage to Melania. Legally speaking, though, Trump could have spent the $130,000 filling his extra freezer with Japanese Wagyu Rib Eye steaks and it wouldn’t make any difference. Money is fungible, and a candidate’s time is a limited resource. Time he doesn’t have to spend dialing for dollars is time he can spend on the campaign trail. You can’t give candidates for office giant loans. We have banks for that.




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  72. al-Ameda says:

    Donald Trump is exactly the person that conservatives warned us Hillary is.




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  73. grumpy realist says:

    Article over at Politico claiming that the strategy is to play a huge game of “whatabout”ism complaining about similar activities carried out by other candidates to totally bollox up the FEC.

    Somehow I doubt it’s going to work the way they think it will. I can protest vigorously to the cop that catches me speeding that “everyone else on the road was going even faster!” but chances are even more likely that I’ll be fined.




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  74. Joe says:

    @Roger:

    I took this to mean that Trump paid Cohen the amount Cohen paid Daniels, plus enough to cover Cohen’s tax liability on that money, plus a little sweetener for his trouble.

    If Cohen were a real lawyer, he could collect $35K or whatever in retainer every month, but he would still issue regular statements of account to identify what part of that retainer was used for out-of-pocket expenses like paying off affairs and what part was for hours spent on client work like drafting up agreements for paying off affairs. Importantly, out-of-pocket expenses would not be income to Cohen while billing for client work would. So those statements would be useful in determining Cohen’s own tax liability. Color me cynical, but I have to confess I doubt Cohen was generating such statements. Without such statements, some zealous IRS agent might assert that Cohen was hiding income. Just sayin’, could happen.




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  75. Mister Bluster says:

    WireTap at Trump Tower: The Movie
    featuring
    Elliott Gould as Robert Mueller
    Sally Kellerman as Stormy Daniels
    Robert Duvall as The President
    and
    Rene Auberjonois as The House Chaplain




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