In a stunning turn of events, Donald Trump’s new personal lawyer — former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — admitted on Wednesday that Trump reimbursed his “fixer” Michael Cohen for the entire $130,000 that Cohen paid to Stormy Daniels as “hush money” to keep her quiet about her sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.
Giuliani’s startling admission came less than a month after Trump flatly denied knowing anything about the payment, in an exchange with reporters on Air Force One.
In an even more stunning turn of events, Giuliani later on Wednesday told The Washington Post that he had discussed his statements with Trump in advance, and that Trump gave him the go-ahead to reveal the alleged reimbursement. If Trump indeed gave Giuliani permission to talk about the supposed reimbursement, Trump’s earlier blanket denial of any knowledge of the payment becomes even more suspect.
The former mayor made his comments in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, broadcast Wednesday evening. Shortly after the broadcast, however, Giuliani scrambled to square his claim about Trump reimbursing Cohen with Trump’s earlier denial that he knew anything about the money.
In a subsequent interview with the Wall Street Journal Giuliani stated that Trump "probably was not aware" of the payment at the time it was made, on October 27, 2016. "Cohen was his lawyer and had discretion to settle, as I have had for clients ultimately paying for it,” Giuliani said.
Trump admitted in a Fox News interview last week that Cohen represented him “like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal he represented me.” But Trump has never claimed direct knowledge of the payment and has never, of course, acknowledged that he personally reimbursed Cohen for those funds — funds which Cohen claimed that he personally put up by borrowing against his house.
Cohen himself has said that he was not reimbursed by the Trump campaign or by Trump’s business. And according to reporting by The Wall Street Journal, Cohen has openly complained to friends that he has not been reimbursed for the Stormy Daniels hush money payoff.
Giuliani’s claim that Trump did, in fact, pay back Cohen after the money for Daniels was the first time such a reimbursement has been acknowledged either in media reporting or by anyone in Trump’s social, business or legal circle.
But the new Trump lawyer, who also ran for president in 2008, added another strange detail to the claim that Trump paid back Cohen, saying that the reimbursement was made in installments over a period of time that Giuliani did not specify.
Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, was interviewed later Wednesday on MSNBC, and said that he was shocked by Giuliani’s statement.
“I am absolutely speechless at this revelation,” Avenatti said. “This is an outrage what has gone on here. The American people have been lied to about this agreement.”
Avenatti said that if the payment was made in installments of $10,000 or less in order to avoid the legal requirement of reporting the payments to comply with money laundering laws, Trump and Cohen may have committed a crime.
“According to Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen were co-conspirators in a felony,” Avenatti said.
Photos by Fox News Screen Capture, Adam Bielawski / Wikimedia Commons