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May 03 2018

Guiliani Spills the Beans

Wednesday night Donald Trump’s lawyer, former US Attorney and NYC Mayor, Rudolph Guiliani appeared with Fox News’ Sean Hannity spilling the beans on the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels creating even greater legal headaches for Trump. In the typical long winded interview, Guiliani revealed that Trump repaid his private lawyer Michael Cohen after Trump’s continued public denial that he knew anything about the transaction to keep Ms. Daniels from telling her story.

“I’m giving you a fact that you don’t know,” Giuliani, the former New York mayor who recently joined the president’s legal team, told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “It’s not campaign money. No campaign finance violation. They funneled through a law firm and the president repaid it.”

That seemed to contradict Trump’s public statements on the payment, which has become a subject of a criminal investigation into Cohen, whose residences and office were raided by the FBI last month.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One in early April, Trump replied, “No,” when asked, “Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?” [..]

In his Fox interview, Giuliani went on to say that Trump “didn’t know about the specifics about it, as far as I know. But he did know about the general arrangements.” The former prosecutor and mayor indicated that Trump reimbursed Cohen through a series of payments of about $35,000, with some extra funds added to cover taxes and perhaps other services rendered. Reports indicated Cohen may have been paid as much as $460,000. [..]

“He was well-aware that at some point when I saw the opportunity, I was going to get this over with,” Giuliani told The Washington Post, adding that he discussed the issue with the president “probably 4 or 5 days ago.” The former U.S. attorney said he didn’t think he was at risk of being fired over his comments.

“No! No! No! I’’ not going to get fired,” Giuliani told the Post. “But if I do, I do. It wouldn’t be the first time it ever happened. But I don’t think so, no.”

Then Thursday morning, Guiliani doubled down on “Fox and Friends,” which Trump watches religiously, further complicating Trumps legal woes by stating that the payment to Ms. Daniels was to cover up the alleged affair in an effort to protect the Trump campaign.

“She was alleging — although there’s the contrary letter she signed that it never happened — that there was a one-time affair,” the president’s lawyer explained. “And I think when Cohen heard $130,000, he said, ‘My God, this is cheap. They come cheap. Let me get the thing signed up and signed off.’”

“Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15, 2016 in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton,” Giuliani added. “Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”

Is as Guiliani claims this wasn’t a campaign contribution, how is this a legal problem for Trump? The Daily Beast‘s Lachlan Markay explains:

(I)n detailing the structure of the payments, Giuliani may have admitted that Trump fudged federal ethics paperwork—paperwork that his lawyers tried, unsuccessfully, to keep Trump from swearing was true and accurate.

By Giuliani’s account, Cohen’s payment to Daniels was effectively a loan, as he knew it would be repaid per the terms of his agreement with Trump. Giuliani insists that it was not a loan to the campaign, which would have amounted to an illegal contribution. Trump’s repayment was entirely a personal expense designed to avoid personal embarrassment, Giuliani explained. Hence, Cohen’s payment was in effect a loan to Trump personally, which Trump would later repay. [..]

“If [the] Cohen loan was not one to [the] campaign, then it was one to you, and you omitted it from your personal federal financial disclosures for the period,” noted Norm Eisen, a former White House ethics lawyer, in a tweet on Thursday. “That’s a crime under 18 USC 1001 & we have filed a criminal complaint with DOJ.” [..]

Under the Ethics in Government Act, most federal officeholders, including the president, must file annual reports that give a full accounting of their finances, including income, assets, and liabilities, among other information. The report that Trump filed last year disclosed no debts owed to either Cohen or Essential Consultants LLC, the company he used to make payments to Daniels.

“The parties involved in the transaction apparently took extreme measures to ensure that their identities would not be disclosed,” CREW wrote in its complaint to the Justice Department and the Office of Government Ethics. “These facts suggest President Trump’s failure to report the loan may have been done both knowingly and willfully.” [..]

In April, as Trump’s attorneys gathered information for a financial disclosure report covering 2016 and early 2017, those attorneys met with officials from the Office of Government Ethics. At that meeting, according to correspondence subsequently reported by the Associated Press, Trump’s attorneys requested that Trump be excused from legally certifying that the disclosure of his assets and liabilities was accurate and complete. OGE balked and required that he do so.

Trump assented, and certified that the the statements “made in this report are true, complete and correct to the best of my knowledge.”

Then to add insult to injury for Trump and his legal eagles, it was revealed that Cohen’s phones were wiretapped by the federal prosecutors prior to the raid on his office and residences early last month and one White House call was intercepted.

Former U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg, now an NBC News analyst, says there’s a high bar for having a wiretap approved.

“The affidavits are typically highly detailed and carefully vetted by experienced lawyers,” he said. “In all cases the wiretap must be approved by a federal judge.”

Rosenberg said that wiretaps are usually approved for an investigation into a current crime and not solely for possible crimes that have been committed in the past.

“This is an exacting process where the government must demonstrate to a federal judge that there is an ongoing crime.”

Stayed tuned, it’s only Thursday