Trump al­legedly re­paid lawyer in porn star deal

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - NATIONAL REPORT - By Cather­ine Lucey and Jill Colvin

WASHINGTON >> In a star­tling reve­la­tion, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Gi­u­liani said Wed­nes­day that Trump re­paid his per­sonal at­tor­ney $130,000 in a deal made just be­fore the 2016 elec­tion to keep porn star Stormy Daniels quiet about her tryst with the pres­i­dent, di­rectly con­tra­dict­ing Trump’s state­ments about the hush money.

Dur­ing an ap­pear­ance on Fox News Chan­nel’s “Han­nity,” the former New York

City mayor and U.S. at­tor­ney said the money to re­pay Michael Co­hen had been “fun­neled … through the law firm and the pres­i­dent re­paid it.”

Asked if Trump knew about the ar­range­ment, Gi­u­liani said: “He didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know. But he did know about the gen­eral ar­range­ment, that Michael would take care of things like this, like I take care of things like this for my clients. I don’t bur­den them with ev­ery sin­gle thing that comes along. Th­ese are busy peo­ple.”

The com­ments con­tra­dict state­ments made by Trump sev­eral weeks ago, when he said he didn’t know about the pay­ment to Daniels as part of a nondis­clo­sure agree­ment she signed days be­fore the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Asked aboard Air Force One whether he knew about the pay­ment, Trump said flatly: “No.” Trump also said he didn’t know why Co­hen had made the pay­ment or where he got the money.

In a phone in­ter­view with “Fox and Friends” last week, how­ever, Trump ap­peared to muddy the wa­ters, say­ing that Co­hen rep­re­sented him in the “crazy Stormy Daniels deal.”

The White House re­ferred ques­tions to the pres­i­dent’s per­sonal le­gal team.

Gi­u­liani, who joined Trump’s le­gal team last month, said the pres­i­dent had re­paid Co­hen over sev­eral months, in­di­cat­ing the pay­ments con­tin­ued through at least the pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion, if not into his pres­i­dency. He also said the pay­ment “is go­ing to turn out to be per­fectly le­gal” be­cause “that money was not cam­paign money.”

No debt to Co­hen is listed on Trump’s per­sonal fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sure form, which was cer­ti­fied on June 16, 2017.

Gi­u­liani also de­scribed the pay­ment to Daniels as “a very reg­u­lar thing for lawyers to do.”

Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Ave­natti, called the com­ment “a stun­ning reve­la­tion.”

“Mr. Trump ev­i­dently has par­tic­i­pated in a felony and there must be se­ri­ous con­se­quences for his con­duct and his lies and de­cep­tion to the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” he said.

Gi­u­liani made the state­ments to Fox host Sean Han­nity, who has his own con­nec­tion to the case. It was re­cently re­vealed in court that Han­nity is one of Co­hen’s clients.

Daniels, whose le­gal name is Stephanie Clif­ford, says she had a sex­ual en­counter with Trump in 2006 and was paid to keep quiet as part of a nondis­clo­sure agree­ment she is now seek­ing to in­val­i­date.

The White House has said Trump de­nies hav­ing a re­la­tion­ship with Daniels.

Co­hen had said pre­vi­ously: “Nei­ther the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion nor the Trump cam­paign was a party to the trans­ac­tion with Ms. Clif­ford, and nei­ther re­im­bursed me for the pay­ment, ei­ther di­rectly or in­di­rectly.” He no­tably did not in­clude the pres­i­dent per­son­ally.

Asked about Co­hen’s de­nial, Gi­u­liani said that he didn’t know if Co­hen made the pay­ment with­out ask­ing Trump but that he had “no rea­son to dis­pute that.”

The pay­ment to Daniels has raised nu­mer­ous le­gal ques­tions, in­clud­ing whether it was an il­le­gal cam­paign con­tri­bu­tion and, now, loan.

Law firms ad­vance ex­penses for clients as a mat­ter of course, and so there’s noth­ing in­her­ently im­proper about a lawyer cov­er­ing a par­tic­u­lar pay­ment and then be­ing re­im­bursed.

In this case, though, the client who al­legedly re­im­bursed the ex­pense was run­ning for pres­i­dent and the money was paid days be­fore the elec­tion, rais­ing ques­tions about whether Co­hen’s law prac­tice was act­ing as a ven­dor for the cam­paign and whether the ex­pense was there­fore an un­re­ported cam­paign ex­pen­di­ture.

If so, that could be legally prob­lem­atic.

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