During a Fox News interview on Thursday afternoon, Republican National Committee spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany downplayed President Trump’s admission that his personal attorney made a hush payment to an adult film actress (Stormy Daniels) who says she had an affair with Trump. McEnany argued that $130,000 payments for false accusations are totally routine for people like the president.
“The president was very clear on this, he said on Twitter he paid Michael Cohen a monthly retainer — that’s not unusual for celebrities, people of power, businessmen to sign non-disclosures with people who are accusing them of things they haven’t done,” McEnany said, before quickly trying to change the topic.
“You know, I think the real takeaway from all of this is a Quinnipiac poll I saw recently that said 73 percent of voters do not think the Stormy Daniels saga is of any importance,” she continued. “So this is a Democratic effort to replace the failed Russia collusion narrative with another one, but it’s not going to work as we approach midterms.”
McEnany may think the financial disclosure is a nothingburger, but the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics (OGE) doesn’t. Because Trump didn’t disclose the October 2016 payment in his 2017 disclosure, the head of the OGE, David Apol, wrote deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and said the payment “should have been reported” and may have violated federal law.
Just last month, Trump publicly denied having any knowledge of Michael Cohen’s payment to Daniels. But his tune has changed since the FBI raided the office, home, and hotel room of his longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, on April 9, in search of documents pertaining to the payment.
The president’s new story — one told publicly by his attorney, Rudy Giuliani — is that he didn’t know about the payment, but reimbursed Cohen for it anyway through a monthly retainer. That story is consistent with Trump’s financial disclosure, which reports that the president reimbursed Cohen for an amount between $100,000 and $250,000.
On Hannity, Giuliani said that “Michael would take care of things like this, like I take care of things like this for my clients.” But even his old law firm doesn’t buy that Cohen would make a payment on behalf of Trump without his knowledge.