Just a few weeks ago, on April 5, Donald Trump was asked by reporters if he knew about the $130,000 payment made by his attorney, Michael Cohen, to porn star, Stormy Daniels as part of a settlement to keep her from disclosing details of her affair with the president. Trump bluntly replied: “No.”
Today, on Fox News, Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said that Trump did indeed know about the hush money and that the president had repaid the funds to his attorney, Michael Cohen.
The disclosure contradicts 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, Giuliani insisted that the payment to Daniels, who claims she had sex with Trump in 2006 at a golf tournament in Nevada, was entirely legal and broke no campaign finance laws.
“So they funneled it through the law firm,” Hannity asked, referring to Cohen’s legal practice.
“Funnelled it through the law firm,” 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 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.”
By disclosing Trump’s own financial involvement in the hush money, 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 Cohen’s law firm.
But it also puts Trump in a difficult spot 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 5 April while on board the official presidential jet whether he knew of the $130,000 payment, he bluntly replied: “No.”
Trump only finally admitted that 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, Trump made no mention of the repayment, now made public by Giuliani.
Under questioning from Hannity, Giuliani went on in the Wednesday night interview to provide further details. He said that the $130,000 was initially paid for by Cohen but then “the president had reimbursed him over a period of several months”.
Asked by Hannity whether Trump had known about the payment, Giuliani appeared to dig the hole deeper when he 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.”