After a series of disastrous media interviews, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s newly minted lead attorney, issued on Friday afternoon a new statement which he promised would “correct” his previous comments.
The three-point statement clarifies precisely nothing.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 4, 2018
Giuliani’s first point
Giuliani starts by making a conclusory statement about campaign law. He then says the payment was made to Stormy Daniels to “resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the president’s family.” Giuliani claims the payment would have been made whether or not Trump was a candidate for president.
But on Thursday on Fox and Friends, Giuliani had a much different story. “Imagine if that came out of October 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton…Cohen made it go away. He did his job,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani did not explain why, yesterday, he claimed the payment was influenced by the election.
He also did not explain how he knows the purpose of the payment at all. According to Giuliani and others, the payment was made by Cohen without consulting Trump. Giuliani says he has not spoken to Cohen about the payment, so it’s unclear how he would know the actual motivation for the initial payment.
Giuliani’s second point
Giuliani claimed on Wednesday and throughout the day on Thursday that Trump first learned that he reimbursed Cohen for the Stormy Daniels payment a few days ago, even though Trump reimbursed Cohen in 2017. This was hard to believe.
Friday morning on MSNBC, advertising executive Donny Deutsch said that he spoke to Cohen on Thursday night and Cohen told him that Giuliani had no idea what he was talking about.
Then, Trump threw Giuliani under the bus and said he was not familiar with the facts.
Now Giuliani is saying his understanding of when Trump found out about the payments might be wrong. But he’s not saying it is wrong or what is right.
In other words, we still have no idea of when Cohen first discussed his payments to Stormy Daniels, or Trump’s reimbursement, with Trump.
Giuliani’s third point
Early in the interview, Giuliani said that Trump fired James Comey as FBI director because “Comey would not — among other things — say that he wasn’t a target of the investigation.” Giuliani said Trump was “entitled to that.”
This rationale was not mentioned either in the official memo explaining Comey’s dismissal or Trump’s statements to NBC’s Lester Holt. Avoiding an obstruction charge requires Trump to present a “a consistent, and legal, explanation for the firing.”
In his statement, Giuliani skirts around the issue by claiming Trump had the ability to fire Comey for any purpose, even if his motives were corrupt. This is a legal argument many experts reject.