A handful of Trump supporters like Laura Ingraham feigned shock and outrage on Wednesday after Rudy Giuliani revealed that – gasp – President Trump knew about the Stormy Daniels’ payment and, indeed, did reimburse attorney Michael Cohen for the hush money.
Well, okay, we’ll be charitable and say that they didn’t “feign” shock that this is now the official story coming from Team Trump, because it WAS a dramatic turnaround when Giuliani told Sean Hannity about the real details of the payment. But this was the outcome that was inevitable from the beginning of this sordid story. We’re not going to speculate on whether or not Trump really had an affair with Ms. Daniels/Clifford, and frankly, we don’t really care one way or the other. What’s important now is that he get free of these campaign finance allegations, and Giuliani (and, Thursday, the president) made that possible with his admission.
Now, there is a question over whether or not Giuliani was “on script” when he made his revelation on the Hannity program. Certainly, it seemed to take the host by surprise when the newest member of Trump’s legal team contradicted the president’s story that he never knew a thing about Cohen’s payment of $130,000 to the porn star. Giuliani said the revelation, however, was planned and done in accordance with Trump’s wishes.
As for the payment, he told Hannity that it was completely above board and “perfectly legal.”
“It’s not campaign money,” Giuliani said. “No campaign finance violation. They funneled through a law firm and the president repaid it.”
Trump weighed in Thursday morning with a series of tweets.
“Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA,” Trump wrote. “These agreements are very common among celebrities and people of wealth. In this case it is in full force and effect and will be used in Arbitration for damages against Ms. Clifford (Daniels). The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair…despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair. Prior to its violation by Ms. Clifford and her attorney, this was a private agreement. Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no role in this transaction.”
Opinions are conflicted as to whether or not this revelation actually gets the president and his attorney out of hot water. Some believe that by acknowledging the repayment, Trump actually took Cohen out of hot water only to plunge into it himself. Others say that by characterizing it this way, Trump and his team took the edge off of any potential campaign finance charges…even if this acknowledgement could be damaging from a political perspective.