The New York Times reported Friday that President Donald Trump was aware of the payment of $130,000 made to Stormy Daniels on his behalf by his attorney Michael Cohen “several months before he denied any knowledge of it to reporters aboard Air Force One in April.”
What the president knew about the Daniels payment, and when he knew it, have been the subject of great speculation since Wednesday’s television interview by Sean Hannity with Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani initially contradicted Trump’s Air Force One statement, but later backtracked which caused even more confusion about the matter.
According to the Times:
“It was not immediately clear when Mr. Trump learned of the payment, which Mr. Cohen made in October 2016, at a time when news media outlets were poised to pay her for her story about an alleged affair with Mr. Trump in 2006. But three people close to the matter said that Mr. Trump knew that Mr. Cohen had succeeded in keeping the allegations from becoming public at the time the president denied it.”
So far we know that at various times Mr. Trump has:
- Denied he had an affair with Daniels,
- Denied he entered into a nondisclosure agreement with Daniels,
- Denied $130,000 was paid to Daniels, and
- Denied he reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 paid to Daniels.
The new revelations that Mr. Trump knew about the payments a long time ago are shocking because they seem to prove that the President of the United States has lied to the American people.
After the Hannity interview Giuliani kept speaking to the press in his attempts to add clarity to his earlier comments. What he accomplished, however, was adding additional confusion instead of clarity.
For example, on Friday he said that Trump, through the Trump Organization, had paid Cohen’s law firm $35,000 per month over a period of time and the total payments were “$460,000 or $470,000.” He did not ever attempt to explain, however, what the additional money was for, although he did imply that Cohen made other payments on Trump’s behalf.
The Times’ article adds this additional explanation:
“Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has known since last year the details of how Mr. Cohen was being reimbursed, which was mainly through payments of $35,000 per month from the trust that contains the president’s personal fortune, according to two people with knowledge of the arrangement.”
“Mr. Weisselberg’s knowledge of the retainer agreement could draw Mr. Trump’s company deeper into the federal investigation of Mr. Cohen’s activities, increasing the president’s legal exposure in a wide-ranging case involving the lawyer often described as the president’s “fixer” in New York City.”
In interviews on Thursday and Friday Giuliani clarified that he really didn’t know when Trump learned about the payments by Cohen to Daniels, even though he knew Cohen was receiving $35,000 per month from his company.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, Trump was supportive of Giuliani’s Hannity comments, but then reversed himself after he discovered that his new lawyer’s public comments had increased his legal jeopardy. When he spoke to reporters on Friday the president criticized Giuliani and said he would eventually “get his facts straight.”
“Virtually everything said has been said incorrectly, and it’s been said wrong, or it’s been covered wrong by the press,” Trump told reporters.
Giuliani sent out a prepared statement on Friday claiming that he had not been “describing my understanding of the president’s knowledge.” He also changed his earlier comments where he said the $130,000 payment to Daniels was motivated by a desire to keep her quiet before the election so she wouldn’t influence the results.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.