The most important thing for Giuliani to establish is that Michael Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels was not a campaign contribution. But in the Washington Post interview, Giuliani provided more evidence to the contrary.
Giuliani told a muddled story about the payment to Daniels. While he repeatedly insisted that that money ultimately came from Trump’s “personal funds” and that Cohen and Trump “never considered this a campaign payment,” at another point he admits that he’s doesn’t know if Trump “distinguished it from other things Cohen might have done for him during the campaign… I don’t know that he distinguished it from other expenses that Cohen had for which he had to be reimbursed.”
By acknowledging that Trump lumped the expense with other explicitly campaign-related expenses, Giuliani suggests that, in Trump’s mind, the payment was designed to benefit his campaign. Giuliani also blows up the fundamental argument as to why this was not a campaign expense: it was paid for with Trump’s personal funds. Now, Giuliani is saying that campaign expenses were paid in the exact same way.
During his conversation with The Post, Giuliani also contradicted himself about when President Trump learned of Cohen’s payment to Daniels. At one point, Giuliani suggested that Trump was aware of the $130,000 payment at the time it was made in October 2016, and even chatted with Cohen about it.
“I also think, personally, neither one of them saw it as a campaign thing; they thought of it as a personal thing,” Giuliani said. “Personal reputation, family, wife, harassment charge. She doesn’t want a lot of money? Pay her. Let her go away. Follow me?”
But at another point, Giuliani explicitly says that Trump “wasn’t told” about the payment before the election — and even if he was, he “wouldn’t have remembered it, like I wouldn’t have remembered it,” because he was so busy in the days leading up to November 8, 2016.
Giuliani also offered an implausible interpretation of the comments Trump made aboard Air Force One on April 5, when he pretended to know nothing about the Daniels payment.
Pressed on why his personal attorney would, just before the 2016 election, make a $130,000 hush payment to Daniels, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One, “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”
Giuliani’s explanation for Trump’s comment is that Trump didn’t get the “full picture” about the Daniels payment until “about two weeks ago.” But he argues there’s nothing unusual about that, because $130,000 is chump change for Trump.
“This is not the kind of money that you would absolutely think of as the settlement of some kind of substantial case,” Giuliani said. “It’d be more the kind of money that you’d think of to be used to pay for a harassment case, which is the way they always thought of this.”
According to Giuliani, Trump did not know about the expense even after the details of the agreement with Cohen became public, and despite the fact that Trump was reimbursing Cohen for it throughout last year. It’s a valiant effort by Giuliani — but it strains credulity.
Giuliani wants the American people to buy that Cohen decided to make a hush payment to Daniels despite the fact that Trump never actually had an affair with her, because it wasn’t “a lot of money.”
“What the public doesn’t understand is that lawyers have the authorization up to a certain amount to spend money to protect their clients from embarrassment or unjust charges, shakedowns,” Giuliani said. “That’s not uncommon.”