Rudy Giuliani issued a statement Friday attempting to clarify remarks he’d made in recent days about a $130,000 payment that lawyer Michael Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election.
In his statement, Giuliani, one of President Donald Trump’s lawyers, said the payment did not amount to a campaign finance violation because it “was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the President’s family.”
“It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not,” Giuliani said of the payment 11 days before the election.
That was an attempt to clean up what Giuliani had said in an interview Thursday on “Fox and Friends,” when he suggested Trump could have faced political fallout if Daniels’ claim she had an affair with Trump had become public before Election Day — a remark experts told NBC News raised serious questions about whether the unreported payment constituted a campaign finance violation, even if it didn’t come from campaign funds.
“Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton,” Giuliani said on “Fox and Friends,” referring to Daniels’ claim that she had a one-night stand with Trump in 2006.
Cohen and Trump aides have denied any affair.
Giuliani also said in his statement Friday that his “references to timing” in media interviews this week were “not describing my understanding of the President’s knowledge, but instead, my understanding of these matters.”
Giuliani had said Thursday on Fox News that Trump learned about the payment to Daniels “10 days ago.”
Last month, Trump answered “no” when asked by reporters if he had been aware of Cohen’s payment to Daniels.
Giuliani, in his statement Friday, also addressed the issue of Trump’s authority to fire FBI Director James Comey.
“It is undisputed that the President’s dismissal of former Director Comey — an inferior executive officer — was clearly within his Article II power,” Giuliani said, referring to the section of the Constitution that outlines the sweeping authority of the president. “
That point was in reference to Giuliani, during his Wednesday night interview on “Hannity,” having contradicted Trump’s initial assertions in May 2017 that the FBI’s investigation of alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign had nothing to do with his decision to fire Comey.
Instead, Giuliani said Wednesday night, the president removed Comey because “Comey would not, among other things, say that (Trump) wasn’t a target of the investigation.”
Earlier Friday, Trump defended Giuliani and insisted he was still learning “the subject matter” as it relates to the Daniels payment.
“Rudy is a great guy, but he just started a day ago,” Trump told reporters. “He’s working hard. He’s learning the subject matter. Rudy knows it’s a witch hunt. He started yesterday. He’ll get his facts straight.”
Giuliani revealed for the first time this week that Trump had reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 payment. Cohen had said previously that he paid Daniels out of his own pocket and without Trump’s knowledge.