President TrumpDonald TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE on Thursday defended hush money paid to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, saying he reimbursed his personal attorney through a retainer that had “nothing to do with the campaign.”
Trump in a series of tweets said his attorney, Michael Cohen, received a monthly retainer “from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA.”
The president said the Daniels agreement “was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair."
Contradicting past claims that he knew nothing about the payment, Trump said such arrangements “are very common 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. These agreements are.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2018
...very common among celebrities and people of wealth. In this case it is in full force and effect and will be used in Arbitration for damages against Ms. Clifford (Daniels). The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair,......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2018
...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. Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2018
Trump offered his most extensive comments to date about the payment one day after Rudy Giuliani, another Trump lawyer, said the president reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 he paid ahead of the 2016 presidential election in exchange for Daniels’s silence about the alleged sexual encounter.
Giuliani’s comments were at odds with Trump’s prior statements that he had no knowledge of the payment by Cohen and did not know the source of the money.
During an interview late Wednesday with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, Giuliani said the payment was “funneled through a law firm and the president repaid it.”
The former New York City mayor said Trump did not know about the specifics of the payment, but did have general knowledge of the agreement.
“He did know about the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this,” Giuliani said. "Like, I take care of this with my clients. I don’t burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people.”
Those comments stood in stark contrast to remarks several weeks ago from Trump, who claimed he had no knowledge of the payment to Daniels, which was made as part of a nondisclosure agreement.
Asked by a reporter aboard Air Force One on April 5 whether he knew about the Daniels payment, Trump flatly replied, "No."
Trump also said he did not know where Cohen got the money to make the payment. But the president later revealed in a “Fox & Friends” interview that Cohen represented him in “this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.”
Giuliani’s comments were intended to defend Trump from legal trouble related to the payment. Cohen is under federal criminal investigation, and authorities are reportedly looking into whether the hush money violated banking or campaign finance laws.
“It’s not campaign money. No campaign finance violation,” Giuliani said.
Instead, the comment spurred even more questions for the president, including whether the repayment was disclosed under campaign finance law.
Daniels’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said he was “rendered speechless” by Giuliani’s claims.
“There may be potential campaign finance violations, felonies, there may, in fact, be money laundering issues, there may be bank fraud issues,” he said on MSNBC. “I mean, this is a very, very serious matter that deserves the attention of the American people, regardless of your political persuasion, period.”
Max Greenwood contributed to this report, which was updated at 8:25 a.m.