Giuliani comments on Stormy payment raise legal questions

Rudy Giuliani, who just joined Trump’s legal team, said Wednesday on Fox News that Donald Trump repaid the $130,000 in hush money that his longtime attorney Michael Cohen paid to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

“It was funneled through a law firm, and then the president repaid it,” Giuliani told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday.

Giuliani’s revelation contradicts a statement Trump made last month in which he denied knowing anything about the payment Cohen had made to Daniels as part of a nondisclosure agreement to keep her from speaking about an alleged affair she had with Trump in 2006.

“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen is my attorney,” Trump said in April, when asked about the payment. “You’ll have to ask Michael.”

Cohen — who is currently under federal investigation — had previously said that he paid Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford) with his own money. In a statement to the New York Times in February, Cohen said that “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 added: “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”

Giuliani, in his interview with Hannity, said the money was not campaign money, though he didn’t go into detail about how or when Trump repaid Cohen. But Giuliani’s comments do raise questions about Trump’s possible involvement in the deal to pay off Daniels.

It also adds another twist to the spiraling legal problems tied to the Stormy Daniels saga. The FBI raided Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room in April, and agents reportedly seized documents and other materials related to the payments Cohen made to Daniels.

Daniels has also filed a lawsuit claiming the nondisclosure agreement she signed is void because the president himself never signed it. That suit is temporarily on hold for 90 days, as Cohen faces more pressing legal troubles in the form of that federal criminal probe. Daniels is also suing Trump for defamation over comments the president made in a tweet referencing a composite sketch of a man Daniels said threatened her in 2011 to keep quiet about her affair with Trump.

Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s attorney, responded to Giuliani’s comments on Twitter, saying: “We predicted months ago that it would be proven that the American people had been lied to as to the $130k payment and what Mr. Trump knew, when he knew it and what he did in connection with it.”