Donald Trump spoke to reporters outside the White House on Friday morning and walked back statements by Rudy Giuliani about reimbursements to lawyer Michael Cohen for hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Said Trump: “Rudy is a great guy but he just started a day ago. He really has his heart into it. He’s working hard. He’s learning the subject matter and he’s going to be issuing a statement too. He knows it’s a witch hunt. That’s what he knows. He’s seen a lot of them. He says he’s never seen anything so horrible.”
Trump then returned to his obsession with the Hillary emails, before going back to Rudy: “Rudy knows it’s a witch hunt. He started yesterday, uh, he’ll get his facts straight.”
President Trump on Rudy Giuliani: "He started yesterday. He'll get his facts straight. He's a great guy." pic.twitter.com/mTjYdcMCCX
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 4, 2018
Trump then made an additional statement five minutes later at the airport:
In an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday night, Giuliani revealed that the president had lied to reporters when he said he did not know about the Stormy Daniels payments, and the next day, on FOX & Friends, admitted they were related to the upcoming election, which would be a violation of campaign finance rules.
“If we had to defend this as not being a campaign contribution,” said Giuliani, “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 villain…It wasn’t for the campaign. It was to save – not their marriage so much as their reputation.”
Then, he contradicted himself confessing that the payment was made because of the election. Giuliani added: “Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton! … Cohen didn’t even ask. He made it go away. He did his job.”
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Trump and Giuliani planned the rollout of Giuliani’s revelations about the payments on their own, blindsiding other White House advisers:
Giuliani’s admission, that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment after weeks of White House statements claiming the president knew nothing about the arrangement, caught many in the White House off-guard but was planned in advance by Giuliani and the president, according to the Journal.
“That was money that was paid by his lawyer, the way I would do, out of his law firm funds or whatever funds, it doesn’t matter. The president reimbursed that over a period of several months,” Giuliani told Fox’s Sean Hannity on Wednesday.
That interview shocked the White House and left the West Wing “completely frozen,” one aide told the Journal.
And Giuliani told NBC News that Trump only recently found out the payments that he was sending to Cohen were reimbursements for the Stormy Daniels payoff.