Rudy Giuliani followed up his disastrous Hannity interview last night with an equally bad attempt on Fox & Friends this morning to explain away his bombshell about Donald Trump reimbursing lawyer Michael Cohen for the Stormy Daniels hush money. Afterward, Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti sent his hilarious appreciation to the show.
As I predicted, Giuliani’s “clarifications” to his remarks on Hannity only served to open new questions. This morning, Giuliani took to Fox & Friends for what was obviously designed as a rehab session.
Even on Fox’s other Trump-friendliest show, Giuliani blew it. On the one hand, he insisted that the hush money was not a campaign contribution, then, moments later, he characterized it as a payment to help Trump’s campaign. And, of course, the Fox Friends were there to help.
BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST: You said about Michael Cohen and the private money - Stormy Daniels got paid $130,000. Michael Cohen said, “Hey, I took this out, I took a loan out to pay it.” The president said, "I didn’t know anything about it." You came out last night and said, "I looked at the receipts. This was done through private. Nothing to do with campaign funds. It was done through a retainer - "
GIULIANI: That’s clear as a bell.
But as Giuliani went on, that bell became a lot less clear. Giuliani tried to argue that Trump did not know of the hush money payment at the time but made payments to Michael Cohen as some sort of insurance against false claims against Trump. Some might call it a slush fund.
GIULIANI: The president indicates he understood it. He didn’t know the details of this until we knew the details of it which was a couple weeks ago. Maybe not even a couple [weeks], maybe 10 days ago. Remember, remember when this came up, October 2016. I was with him day in and day out then. I can’t remember the details of what happened. And—I know $135,000. I don’t want to demean anyone. $135,000, it sounds like a lot of money. It’s not when you’re putting a hundred million dollars into your campaign. It isn’t pocket change but it’s pretty close to it at the end.
That, of course, helps Stormy Daniels’ case that seeks to void her nondisclosure agreement based on the argument that Trump was never a proper party to the agreement. However, Giuliani seemed to be setting up a scenario where Trump can later claim he knew of and agreed to the nondisclosure agreement but promptly forgot about it because it was such a small matter to him. Which strains credulity.
GIULIANI: First of all, if we had to defend this as not being a campaign contribution, I think we could do that. This was for personal reasons. This was the president had been hurt personally, not politically, personally so much, and the first lady, by some of the false allegations - that one more false allegation, six years old, I think he was trying to help the family. For that the man is being treated like some kind of a villain. And I think he was just being a good lawyer, and a good man.
STEVE DOOCY, CO-HOST: So, there were no campaign violations because it was out of Donald Trump’s pocket.
GIULIANI: That makes it nice and clear. But it wasn’t for the campaign. It was to save their marriage - not their marriage so much as their reputation.
Then, Giuliani strongly suggested that the hush money was for the campaign, after all. And he claimed that Cohen took care of the whole thing without Trump’s knowledge:
DOOCY: Why did the attorney pay her the money? What was she alleging?
GIULIANI: Well, she was alleging - although there’s a contrary letter that she signed that it never happened - that there was a one-time affair. And I think when Cohen heard $130,000, he said, “My God, this is cheap. They come cheap. Let me get the thing signed up and signed off.”
DOOCY: So in other words, to make it go away, rather than fight this allegation –
GIULIANI: Don’t you think a lot of the people would pay that when they can?
If you’re wealthy, you’re a target. ….
Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016 in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton.
DOOCY: So to make it go away, they made this deal.
GUIULIANI: Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.
No wonder Avenatti tweeted this afterward:
Whatever happens @foxandfriends, please do not stop helping our case week in and week out by having Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani appear and make damaging stmts. You are truly THE BEST; where can we send the gift basket? #basta— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 3, 2018
Cohen dips into his personal home equity resources to pay out US$ 130,000 on behalf of a political candidate and – after everybody denying that ever happened – Rudy spills the beans: Cohen was reimbursed through four monthly payments under a fake contract.
I recall reading somewhere that the Trump campaign gave the then candidate almost US$ 130,000 at about that same time. The pieces of this puzzle are starting to fit.