Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who was forced to issue a statement recanting his previous comments on Stormy Daniels last week, went back on national TV on Sunday to discuss the matter in detail.
He came, by his own admission, with no greater understanding of the facts. On multiple occasions, he declared the facts of the matter irrelevant.
In the process, he made a number of damaging admissions that could complicate Trump’s efforts in ongoing civil and criminal legal processes surrounding the issue, all while claiming he was brought on as the president’s lawyers to deal with an entirely separate matter, the Mueller investigation.
Giuliani started by refusing to acknowledge that Trump had even met Stormy Daniels, though he was forced to backtrack after ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos showed a picture of Trump and Daniels standing together.
Indeed, throughout the interview, Giuliani often appeared confused and in over his head. After Stephanopoulos asked when Trump first learned that Daniels wanted money “to keep quiet about the relationship,” Giuliani’s response was “[I] don’t know and it doesn’t matter to me.”
Similarly, Stephanopoulos asked Giuliani about Giuliani’s own statements to Buzzfeed that Trump only agreed to reimburse his lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the money he paid to Stormy Daniels after Cohen complained to Trump about being stiffed. In response, Giuliani dismissed his own previous statements to Buzzfeed as “rumors” and claimed that “right now I’m at the point where I’m learning” about the facts.
Yet, no matter how unprepared Giuliani was for Sunday’s interview, he is still Trump’s lawyer and that carries with it very serious consequences for his client. When a lawyer speaks on behalf of a client, their words typically carry the same legal force as if they’d been spoken by the client him or herself.
So when Giuliani stated in Sunday’s interview that the $130,000 payment to Daniels “may have involved the campaign,” or when he suggested that Daniels had greater leverage over Trump because Trump was running for president, those are statements that run counter to the Trump legal team’s larger narrative — that the payment was irrelevant to the campaign. And they potentially could be turned against Trump in court.
There’s a reason, in other words, why sophisticated clients typically do not send confused and ill-informed lawyers out to represent them on national television. Trump, however, does not seem to have gotten that memo.