Trump to Giuliani: Get facts straight
President says new guy still learning about porn actress
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump insisted Friday that “we’re not changing any stories” about the 2016 hush payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels, even as he further muddied the explanations by suggesting the new face of his legal team needed to “get his facts straight.”
Trump said that Rudy Giuliani, who upended the previous White House defense this week by saying the president knew about his personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s payment to Daniels, was “a great guy, but he just started a day ago” and said the former mayor of New York City was still “learning the subject matter.”
Hours later, Giuliani issued a statement in which he tried to back away from his previous suggestion that the $130,000 payment was made because Trump was in the stretch run of the 2016 campaign.
“The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the president’s family,” Giuliani said. “It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not.”
That was a marked change from Giuliani’s earlier comments about the timing of the payment, made on Oct. 27, 2016, less than two weeks before the election.
Of Daniels’ allegations of an affair with Trump, Giuliani said Thursday: “Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton. Cohen didn’t ask. He made it go away.”
Giuliani insisted Trump didn’t know the specifics of Cohen’s arrangement with Daniels until recently, telling “Fox & Friends” on Thursday that the president didn’t know all the details until “maybe 10 days ago.”
Giuliani told The New York Times that Trump had repaid Cohen $35,000 a month “out of his personal family account” after the campaign was over. He said Cohen received $460,000 or $470,000 in all for expenses related to Trump.
In his statement Friday, the former mayor added that his previous “references to timing were not describing my understanding of the president’s knowledge, but instead, my understanding of these matters” but did not elaborate. His statement came just a day Giuliani said “You won’t see daylight between me and the president.”
While Giuliani also repeated his belief that the payment did not constitute a campaign finance violation, legal experts have said the new information raised a number of questions, including whether the money represented repayment of an undisclosed loan or could be seen as reimbursement for a campaign expenditure. Either could be legally problematic.
Trump himself called news stories about Daniels “crap” and said the White House would offer an accounting of the payments. But he offered no details.
The president added that “virtually everything” reported about the payments — which are the subject of swirling legal action and frenzied cable newsbreaks — was wrong. But he declined to elaborate.
Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, is seeking to be released from a non-disclosure deal she signed in the days before the 2016 election to keep her from talking about a 2006 sexual encounter she said she had with Trump. She has also filed defamation suits against Cohen and Trump.