In a series of tweets on Thursday, President Trump confirmed the account of his handling of the Stormy Daniels “hush money” revealed by Rudy Guiliani on Wednesday night. Trump said he did reimburse his personal lawyer Michael Cohen for the $130,000 NDA payment to Daniels through “a monthly retainer.” The arrangement, he said, was standard operating procedure “among celebrities and people of wealth.”
“Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA,” wrote Trump.
“These agreements are very common among celebrities and people of wealth,” he continued.
“In this case it is in full force and effect and will be used in Arbitration for damages against Ms. Clifford (Daniels),” he wrote. “The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair, despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair. Prior to its violation by Ms. Clifford and her attorney, this was a private agreement.”
He ended his statement by underscoring that the $130,000 payment to Daniels did not violate campaign finance law, as many have speculated.
“Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction,” he concluded.
Trump has consistently denied having an affair with Daniels, an alleged one-night stand she says took place back in 2006. In October 2016, Daniels signed a nondisclosure agreement for $130,000, paid by Cohen. She has since violated the agreement, arguing that it is invalid because Trump did not sign it himself. Trump and Cohen both say that Trump did not know about the agreement at the time, and Trump told the press in early April that he did not know how Cohen paid for it.
Pressed on what seems like a reversal on his knowledge of Cohen’s reimbursement, Trump legal adviser Rudy Giuliani told The Washington Post’s Robert Costa Wednesday that Trump was paying a monthly retainer to Cohen of $35,000, which was in part paying off the $130,000.
Pressed by Costa when Trump realized that his monthly retainer was paying Cohen back for the Daniels payment, Giuliani said, “Don’t know that. Probably now, when I told him.” Giuliani said Trump’s claim on April 5 that he didn’t know about the NDA payment was “absolutely true.”
“Does that mean he didn’t know about the payment when it was made to Daniels, or that he didn’t know about it on April 5?” asked Costa.
“Both. I think. I never asked him that. So you probably should be careful,” said Giuliani. “I don’t know the answer to that, except to say that when I talk to him, it seems to me that he was getting the full picture for the first time. … About two weeks ago.”
Asked about how exactly the payments were made, Giuliani said, “Do the arithmetic, right? $35,000 a month, probably starting in January or February. By the time you get to $250,000, it’s all paid off. Remember, he also paid for the taxes. Then there probably were other things of a personal nature that Michael took care of, for which the president would have always trusted him as his lawyer, as my clients do with me. And that was paid back out of the rest of the money. And Michael earned a fee out of it.”