A person familiar with the hush-money payoff to Stormy Daniels says the president's senior staff was taken aback by Rudy Giuliani's revelation yesterday that the president repaid Michael Cohen the $130,000 he gave the porn actress.
‘White House officials were surprised by Giuliani’s Stormy Daniels disclosures, although it’s not a matter their involved in,' a person familiar with the matter said.
‘That’s not shocking because this is a personal matter and not a White House matter,’ the person added.
Giuliani said he spoke to the president before he went on air and had permission to disclose the payment. It was unclear on Thursday how many of the president's senior staffers were looped into that discussion, particularly since it was a conversation that took place between the president and his personal lawyer.
A person familiar with the hush-money payoff to Stormy Daniels says the president's senior staff was taken aback by Rudy Giuliani's revelation yesterday that the president repaid Michael Cohen the $130,000 he gave the porn actress
Trump claimed Thursday morning that a $130,000 hush-money payment to a porn star who claims to have been his mistress was an ordinary legal expense – part of the costs covered by a monthly retainer agreement between him and his longtime lawyer.
'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,' Trump wrote in a series of tweets.
'These agreements are 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 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 [sic] in this transaction,' the president concluded.
Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now serving as a Trump legal adviser, revealed Wednesday night that Trump repaid Cohen – but didn't address the president's April 5 statement aboard Air Force One that he knew nothing about it.
He said Thursday on 'Fox & Friends' that Cohen's payment to Clifford 'wasn't for the campaign. It was to save their marriage,' referring to Donald and Melania Trump. 'I think he was trying to help the family. And for that, the man is being treated like some kind of villain.'
But in the same interview, he suggested that a bombshell claim from Daniels would have disastrous consequences for the president's political prospects.
'Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton,' he said.
'Cohen didn't even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.'
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEOS
President Donald Trump has laid out the details of a new rationale for the infamous hugh-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels during the last days of the 2016 campaign
Trump articulated a new line of defense on Thursday morning, saying his attorney Michael Cohen was repaid for his $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels through an ordinary legal retainer
Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti scoffed at the latest legal tactic from the White House: 'They're not thinking this through. We've been playing three-dimensional chess, they've been playing tic-tac-toe'
Rudy Giuliani said Thursday morning on 'Fox & Friends' that Cohen's payment wasn't a campaign contribution because his purpose was personal – an unsolicited favor to Donald and Melania Trump: 'It wasn't for the campaign. It was to save their marriage'
Trumps morning tweets drew mocking criticism from Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti, who told the 'Morning Joe' hosts on MSNBC that 'they're not thinking this through. We've been playing three-dimensional chess, they've been playing tic-tac-toe.'
'Mr. President, you and your advisers and your lawyers need to bring it. Bring it. Because you continue to lie to the American people. We are not going to tolerate it,' he said.
Giuliani, who has joined Trump's legal team in recent weeks, created an overnight tempest with his initial statement during an interview with Sean Hannity on the Fox News Chanel
'Having something to do with paying some Stormy Daniels woman $130,000? Which, I mean, is going to turn out to be perfectly legal,' Giuliani said.
'That money was not campaign money. Sorry, I'm giving you a fact now that you don't know. It's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation.
'They funneled through the law firm and the president repaid it.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Fox News just minutes after Giuliani's appearance Thursday that she wouldn't expand on his explanation: 'It's something that we at the White House can't comment on'
Giuliani called Avenatti and Daniels 'stick-up artists' who are looking for a seven-figure payday, and reacted to news that Avenatti had approached MSNBC with an idea for a legal program starring himself: 'The TV show he could get is – well, "Ambulance Chaser"'
Cohen has said that he took out the $130,000 from his home equity line of credit to make the payment. And Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on April 5 that 'no,' he had no knowledge of the financial arrangement with Daniels.
He has claimed that Cohen made the payment on his own.
Cohen faces a criminal probe into his business affairs by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, including over the $130,000 payment, which he has called legal.
Daniels has since sued Trump and Cohen claiming that the non-disclosure agreement she signed was invalid.
Appearing Thursday morning on 'Fox & Friends,' Giuliani called Avenatti and Daniels 'stick-up artists' who are looking for a seven-figure payday.
He reacted to news that Avenatti had approached MSNBC with an idea for a legal program starring himself: 'The TV show he could get is – well, "Ambulance Chaser".'
And Giuliani reiterated that Trump 'didn't know the details of this until we knew the details of it, which was a couple weeks ago. Maybe not even a couple, maybe 10 days ago.'
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Fox News just minutes after Giuliani's appearance Thursday that she wouldn't expand on his explanation.
'Mayor Giuliani is part of the president's legal team. He's got visibility and insight into this issue. He's spoken about this at length, both last night and this morning. I would refer you back to his comments,' she said.
'Particularly given the fact tat his is ongoing legislation, it's something that we at the White House can't comment on.'
Rudy Giuliani (above) has said that Donald Trump re-paid Michael Cohen $130,000 after the personal attorney made the initial hush money payment to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with the president over a decade ago
Giuliani's facial expressions suggest he realizes he made a mistake in revealing the reimbursement
Avenatti said Wednesday night that Giuliani's comments on the 'Hannity' program were a 'stunning revelation' and that Trump 'evidently participated in a felony.'
Avenatti told MSNBC immediately after the Giuliani revelations that Trump may be guilty of money laundering, campaign finance violations, and fraud by paying Cohen back in small increments over the course of several months.
'That's a serious, serious problem,' Avenatti said. 'It's a violation of federal law. It's a criminal act to do that.'
After the interview with Hannity, The Wall Street Journal asked Giuliani if his comments on Fox put the president in legal jeopardy.
'[Trump] paid [Cohen] back,' Giuliani told the Journal.
'No campaign finance violations, no crime of any kind. Michael had discretion to solve these.'
Giuliani told Hannity that the $130,000 payment was 'a very regular thing for lawyers to do.'
The statement by Giuliani contradicts Trump's denial last month that he had any knowledge of Cohen's initial payment to Daniels. Daniels is seen above in downtown Pittsburgh late Wednesday being escorted to a club by a bodyguard
Trump has denied allegations that he had an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford
Giuliani told Hannity that the $130,000 payment was 'a very regular thing for lawyers to do.' Daniels is seen left and Cohen is seen right
The president's attorney said, 'Everybody was nervous about this from the very beginning. I wasn't...
'When I heard Cohen's retainer of $35,000, when he was doing no work for the president, I said, 'That's how he's repaying it, with a little profit and a little margin for paying taxes, for Michael'.'
Giuliani also told Hannity the president 'didn't know about the specifics of it (the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels), as far as I know.
'But he did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this.'
Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti (seen above on CNN on Wednesday), said Giuliani's comments were a 'stunning revelation' and that Trump 'evidently participated in a felony'
Daniels claims she had intercourse with Trump one time, in 2006, and they kept in touch afterward on the promise that he would try to secure her a spot as a contestant on his reality TV show, The Apprentice.
Trump has denied the affair and previously denied having knowledge of the payment Cohen made to Daniels in exchange for her silence.'
Avenatti said Wednesday evening that Trump 'evidently has participated in a felony and there must be serious consequences for his conduct and his lies and deception to the American people.'
He again predicted that Trump will not make it until the end of his first term as a result of the dishonesty.
'I said it weeks ago. I'm going to say it again. Mr. Trump will not serve his term. No way, no how. He will be forced to ultimately resign,' the attorney who is representing Daniels in her suit against Trump said on CNN.
Avanatti in a Wednesday evening tweet doubled down, saying, 'We predicted months ago that it would be proven that the American people had been