It's beginning to seem like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani can't go 24 hours without saying something controversial (or is hoping to get fired in less than one Scaramucci, i.e. 10 days).
After he directly contradicted President Trump during an interview with Sean Hannity last week when he revealed that Trump was, in fact, aware of Michael Cohen's $130,000 hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford), Giuliani said during an interview Sunday with ABC's George Stephanopoulos that, if it were necessary, he believes Cohen would've made similar payments to other women.
Did Michael Cohen make payments to other women on behalf of the president? Rudy Giuliani tells @GStephanopoulos: “I have no knowledge of that, but I would think if it was necessary, yes." https://t.co/LYBy2d6vA3 pic.twitter.com/ESMcGETxx4— ABC News (@ABC) May 6, 2018
Engaging in some much needed damage control, when asked about the retainer arrangement between Trump and Cohen, the former NYC mayor parroted Trump's line that these types of agreements are common among wealthy individuals, and that the specific agreement between Trump and Cohen had been worked out some time before - and that Cohen likely wouldn't have informed Trump before making these types of settlement payments.
Pres. Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani tells @GStephanopoulos he expects Michael Cohen “is going to cooperate” with investigators, but adds “I don’t think they’ll be happy with it because he doesn’t have any incriminating evidence about the president.” https://t.co/LYBy2d6vA3 pic.twitter.com/VMl7To87ZR— ABC News (@ABC) May 6, 2018
Stephanopoulos asked if Cohen made similar payments to other women. Giuliani said that, while he has no knowledge of other payments, he wouldn't be surprised to learn that Cohen did so.
"I have no knowledge of that but I -- I -- I would think if it was necessary, yes. He made payments for the president or he’s conducted business for the president. Which means he had legal fees, monies laid out and expenditures, which I have on my bills to my clients," Giuliani said.
For what it's worth, Giuliani also tried to walk back his Hannity comment by parroting the new White House line - that Trump was only made aware of the payment after the fact - which was introduced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders during a press briefing earlier this week.
"I don't think anyone believes that he knew about it at the time. The question is, when did he find out," Giuliani added.
Giuliani added that Trump wouldn't have known about the $130,000 payment initially because the sum is so small. Trump wouldn't have been consulted before the settlement - and that's actually somewhat commonplace for wealthy individuals, Giuliani said.
"$130,000 between a lawyer and a client and - and a client who’s worth, you know, billions, is not - George, you know, I don’t like saying this, but it’s not a great deal of money. $1.3 million is a great deal of money. That’s the kind of money you would think of as a settlement. If I saw $130,000, I would never think it was to settle a substantial claims against my client.
"Well how could he if he didn’t know it? Right? I mean, first of all, it isn’t a liability, it’s an expense and I don’t think those are included. So I’m representing the president, let’s say. And I came down to Washington this weekend. That’s a certain expense. I’d bill him for it three months from now or two months from now. That’s not a loan. He’s not loaning me money."
"I’m -- I’m -- my law firm or I -- in this case, I, because I’m representing him individually. I lay out the money and then he pays me back. Sometimes those expenses go on for a couple years."
"The agreement with Michael Cohen, as far as I know, is a longstanding agreement that Michael Cohen takes care of situations like this then gets paid for them sometimes. Gets -- pays him (ph) sometimes it’s reimbursed in another way, depends on whether it’s business or personal."
Describing the Daniels payment as a "nuisance payment," Giuliani insisted that people "don't go away" for $130,000.
"I never thought $130,000 -- I know this sounds funny to people there at home. I never thought $130,000 was a real payment, it’s a nuisance payment," Giuliani continued. "People don’t go away for $130,000."
Pres. Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani calls $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels “a nuisance payment."— ABC News (@ABC) May 6, 2018
“I never thought $130,000 was a real payment… people don't go away for $130,000." https://t.co/lh2gx0bKQO pic.twitter.com/PhJjXUKeNX
Asked if Cohen is still serving as Trump's attorney, Giuliani pointed out that Cohen would be barred from representing Trump because of conflicts. He also insisted that while there might be minor inconsistencies between Trump and Cohen's testimony in the Daniels case, they would agree on the key points.
"Not in any material respect. Look, if it didn’t contradict it at all, then somebody would be lying. I remember that great cross examination when the person just repeated the things over and over again the same way. Of course there’ll be minor details. On the two main facts, was it for the -- was it for another purpose other than just campaign, even if it was campaign? Yes. It was to settle a personal issue that would be embarrassing to him and his wife. Number two, did he repay it over a period of time and then find out ultimately what it was about? Yes."
While Giuliani says he has "great respect" for the president's pardon power...
Pres. Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani says pardoning Michael Cohen is "obviously not on the table."— ABC News (@ABC) May 6, 2018
"It has not been discussed, and would not be discussed." https://t.co/LLi1C5Cedc pic.twitter.com/dWFHM591BD
...Cohen and his legal team know that a pardon isn't on the table.
That -- that -- that -- we -- Jay and I have made it clear, and -- and -- and Michael’s lawyers all know that that obviously is not on the table. That’s not a decision to be made now, there’s no reason to pardon anybody now.
It has not been discussed, and -- and would not be discussed. Does the president have the unfitted (ph) power as President Clinton had, President Reagan? I used to -- I -- (inaudible) the pardon attorney worked for me with President Reagan. He gave out 900 pardons, far fewer than -- than Obama or -- or President Trump.
I’m -- I’m a big believer in the pardon power. There are people I wanted to see get pardons like Michael Milken, who I prosecuted. But right now, pardons would be a bit -- they wouldn’t be illegal to talk about, they’d be kind of confusing.
Reports surfaced last week claiming that President Trump wasn't happy with Giuliani's interview with Hannity. And once again, it appears Giuliani might've said a few things that he might later regret (certainly, that comment about Cohen possibly paying other women appears ill-advised).
We now wait to see if Trump - or Daniels - will respond, and what Giuliani's latest odds are of lasting the week in the president's employ.
* * *
While Giuliani credited Stephanopoulos for being "always fair" with Trump and his associates, he clearly couldn't resist ribbing the former Clinton administration official for his obvious hypocrisy for insinuating that Giuliani had endorsed lying to the press.
Giuliani's point here - obviously - was to remind Stephanopoulos he worked for a President (named Bill Clinton) who lied to the press about many things, including multiple affairs. Draw distinctions if you want (wasn't about hush money, etc) but let's not feign ignorance: https://t.co/WhVmHr2TWm— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 6, 2018
While the press persistently hammers Trump as a compulsive liar, as Giuliani reminds us, he's hardly the first president to consistently lie to the press.