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Donald Trump

Rudy Giuliani defends legality of Donald Trump’s porn star payment as president says lawyer ‘doesn’t have facts straight’

Giuliani appeared to imply on Wednesday that Trump had paid off Stormy Daniels to avoid election woes – which would be a violation of campaign law

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 May, 2018, 6:29am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 May, 2018, 6:35am

Rudy Giuliani said on Friday that the US$130,000 in hush money paid by his client, US President Donald Trump, to porn star Stormy Daniels was not an election law violation – despite apparently suggesting the opposite on Thursday. 

“There is no campaign violation. The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the president’s family,” Giuliani said in a brief statement.

“It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not.” He said the statement was “intended to clarify the views I expressed over the past few days”.

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His remarks came hours after Trump undercut Giuliani, the president’s newest lawyer, by saying that the former New York mayor “did not have his facts straight”.

The payment had been made via Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to Daniels in order to persuade her to keep quiet about a 2006 sexual encounter she said she had with Trump before the election.

Giuliani wondered aloud on Thursday what would have happened if Daniels’ claim of an affair had come up in a debate between Trump and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton before adding: “Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”

Those remarks raised the possibility that the transaction violated federal election law.

Giuliani admits Trump repaid lawyer US$130,000 in Stormy Daniels hush money

In comments to reporters at the White House before boarding a helicopter, Trump seemed to undercut Giuliani, who is also a former federal prosecutor.

Giuliani conducted a series of news media interviews this week that only intensified the controversy involving Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and other matters.

“Rudy is a great guy, but he just started a day ago. But he really has his heart into it. He’s working hard. He’s learning the subject matter,” Trump said.

“He’ll get his facts straight,” Trump added, though he did not specify the statements by Giuliani to which he was referring.

Giuliani late on Wednesday revealed that Trump had repaid Cohen for the US$130,000 the lawyer had provided to Daniels. Trump previously had denied knowing about the payment.

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The next morning, Trump said on Twitter that Cohen was paid back through a monthly retainer, not campaign funds, to stop Daniels’ “false and extortionist accusations”.

Asked about the matter on Friday, Trump said, without explicitly mentioning Giuliani, that “virtually everything said has been said incorrectly, and it’s been said wrong, or it’s been covered wrong by the press”.

In his statement on Friday, Giuliani said, “My references to timing were not describing my understanding of the President’s knowledge, but instead, my understanding of these matters,” but did not provide specifics.

The Republican president, facing legal troubles on several fronts, also indicated he would be willing to be interviewed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but only if he knew he would be treated fairly.

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Mueller is investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and whether the president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the investigation.

Trump has previously expressed a desire to talk to Mueller, a fellow Republican and a former FBI director under Republican former President George W. Bush and Democratic former President Barack Obama, but said on Friday he has been advised by legal counsel not to.

“I would love to speak. I would love to. Nobody wants to speak more than me … because we’ve done nothing wrong,” Trump said.

“I have to find that we’re going to be treated fairly, because everybody sees it now, and it is a pure witch hunt,” Trump added, while incorrectly saying that Mueller has a “group of investigators that are all Democrats.”

Trump says he’d ‘love to’ talk to Mueller but wants ‘fairness’

“If I thought it was fair, I would override my lawyer,” Trump added.

During a pretrial hearing in Virginia on Mueller’s charges against Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, US District Judge T.S. Ellis III openly questioned whether the special counsel had exceeded his prosecutorial powers by bringing the case.