As much of the country has no doubt noticed, Rudy Giuliani created something of a mess last night, telling Fox News that his client, Donald Trump, not only knew about Michael Cohen’s hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, the president also reimbursed his personal lawyer for the payoff.
This morning, Giuliani went back to Fox News, where he made matters just a little worse.
DOOCY: So you’re saying that Stephanie Clifford, made these allegations, told Donald trump’s lawyer –
GUILIANI: And denied them. And then said it wasn’t true. However, 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 –
GUILIANI: Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen didn’t ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.
The former New York City mayor may not fully understand this, but one of the key areas of legal jeopardy in this scandal is the possibility of a campaign-finance law violation. It’s why Trump and his team have gone out of their way to separate the hush money from the campaign.
That’s never been especially persuasive – Cohen delivered the money to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, on Oct. 27, 2016 – the height of the 2016 race, just days before Election Day – but that was their line and they stuck to it.
And yet, there was Giuliani this morning, once again connecting the payment to the campaign.
This area of the law can get complicated, but the core elements of this story are relatively straightforward: if the hush money was delivered as part of an effort to improve Trump’s chances of winning, then it may have been necessary to report the $130,000 as a campaign-related expenditure – and failure to do so may have been illegal.
It’s why Cohen and others have said the pre-election payoff was unrelated to the election. It’s also why Giuliani raised eyebrows by pushing in the opposite direction this morning.
What I find more difficult to understand is why Giuliani keeps talking – or more to the point, why Team Trump hasn’t reeled him back in. The former mayor has been leading an aggressive media blitz over the last 16 hours or so, talking to multiple print, broadcast, and online outlets. From what I gather, there are more interviews lined up for this afternoon.
What Giuliani isn’t doing, however, is helping the president is any tangible way. On the contrary, there’s ample reason to believe he’s making things worse.
Shouldn’t someone at the White House give him a call and encourage him to enjoy a little quiet time?
On a related note, what kind of day do you suppose Emmet Flood is having?