In a remarkable appearance Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani said Donald Trump had indeed repaid the money used to buy Stormy Daniels’ silence about their affair, and that Trump had indeed fired then-FBI Director James Comey because Comey wouldn’t tell Trump that he wasn’t under investigation.
Both statements contradict the story the president himself and his White House have previously offered.
Giuliani’s appearance with Sean Hannity—one of the first by the former U.S. attorney since he joined Trump’s rapidly assembled new legal team, which has promised a tougher response to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe—left the Fox News host and frequent Trump adviser and enabler openly stunned.
In an appearance stuffed with odd factual errors, like saying no president had ever before been subpoenaed, and sweeping claims about “criminal” Hillary Clinton and “disgraceful liar” and “very perverted man” James Comey, Giuliani flat out said Trump had paid back the money shelled out to buy the porn star’s silence, and that there was no problem there.
That claim—contradicting the insistence of Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen that he paid the money himself after taking out a home loan—marked the first time a member of Team Trump admitted the president had paid money to Cohen for the nondisclosure agreement with Daniels, which was inked days before the 2016 election.
About Trump “paying some Stormy Daniels woman one hundred and thirty thousand,” Giuliani declared that “is going to turn out to be perfectly legal. That money was not campaign money. Sorry I’m giving you a fact now that you don’t know. It’s not campaign money. No campaign finance violation.”
An incredulous Hannity—outed in a federal courthouse last week as one of Cohen’s clients—interrupted: “They funneled it through the law firm?”
Giuliani barreled on: “Funneled through the law firm, and then the president repaid it.”
Said Hannity: “Oh. I didn’t know. He did?”
The apparent admission came less than a month after Trump categorically denied knowing about Daniels’ pay-off, and a week after he admitted that Cohen had represented him in negotiating her nondisclosure agreement.
Near the end of his hour-long appearance, Giuliani called the federal agents who raided Cohen’s Manhattan office last month “stormtroopers.”
Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District, repeatedly boasted on Fox during the 2016 presidential campaign about information on the Hillary Clinton investigation he said came from active FBI agents—a leak that’s expected to be addressed in a forthcoming report by the Justice Department’s inspector general.
Significantly for Mueller’s investigation into possible obstruction of justice by Trump, Giuliani said the president “fired Comey because Comey would not—among other things—say that he wasn't a target of the investigation.”
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday, Giuliani seemed to try to walk back his on-air remarks, saying Trump was “probably not aware” of the payment at the time it was made.
“Cohen was his lawyer and had discretion to settle, as I have had for clients ultimately paying for it,” he told the paper. “Remember October 2016, hardly will recall any of that in detail. I don’t remember it clearly either.”