President Trump said Friday that his lawyer Rudy Giuliani didn’t know the “facts” about hush-money payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels.
“Rudy is a great guy but he just started a day ago,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn before departing White House en route to Texas, where he is scheduled to speak at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention. “He’ll get his facts straight.”
In interviews with Fox News this week, the former mayor of New York City made the bombshell disclosure that Trump had reimbursed his personal attorney Michael Cohen for his $130,000 payment to Daniels in October 2016, as part of a non-disclosure agreement. Daniels has said she had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006.
“The president repaid it,” Giuliani told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday. “He didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know. But he did know the general arrangement — that Michael would take care of things like this, like I take care of things like this with my clients. I don’t burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people.”
The statement appeared to flatly contradict Trump’s previous claim that he was unaware of the payment.
On Thursday morning, Trump released a carefully-worded three-tweet statement that seemed to confirm Giuliani’s comments, saying the arrangement was “very common among celebrities and people of wealth.”
But on Friday, Trump appeared to walk back that confirmation, saying Giuliani is “learning the subject matter.”
The president criticized the press for its coverage of the administration’s differing statements on the Stormy Daniels saga, but also seemed to blame Giuliani for the “misinformation.”
“I say, learn before you speak, it’s a lot easier,” Trump said.
Trump was asked whether he had changed his mind about sitting down for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. Giuliani was hired by the Trump team, in part, to negotiate the terms of that interview.
“I would love to speak, I would love to, nobody wants to speak more than me,” Trump said. “I would love to speak because we’ve done nothing wrong. There was no collusion with the Russians. There was nothing. There was no obstruction.”
“You know, very funny,” the president continued. “If you fight back, because you people say something wrong or they say something wrong or they leak, which they’ve been doing, if you fight back they say, ‘Oh, that’s obstruction of justice.’ Somebody says something wrong, you fight back, they say that’s obstruction of justice. It’s nonsense.”
“I would love to go but I have find a way to be treated fairly,” he added. “Why don’t we have Republican people doing what these Democrats are doing? It is a very unfair thing. If I thought it was fair I would override my lawyers.”
Trump also falsely claimed that Mueller’s team was comprised of “all Democrats” and wrongly characterized how long Mueller worked for President Barack Obama.
“In all fairness, Bob Mueller worked for Obama for eight years,” Trump said. Mueller was appointed FBI director by President George W. Bush in 2001 and served through 2013, covering both of Bush’s terms and the first four years of the Obama administration.
Speaking to press at Andrews Air Force Base, Trump sparred with an Associated Press reporter who asked him about his assertion aboard Air Force One that he did not know about Cohen’s payment to Daniels.
“We’re not changing any stories,” Trump said. “All I’m telling you is that this country is right now running so smooth and to be bringing up that kind of crap and to be bringing up witch hunts all the time — that’s all you want to talk about.”
“You said on Air Force One that you did not know anything about the payments,” the AP’s Catherine Lucey pressed.
“Excuse me, excuse me,” Trump interjected. “You take a look at what I said. You go back and take a look. You’ll see what I said.”
“You said no when I asked you about the payment,” Lucey replied.
In a gaggle with reporters aboard Air Force One on April 5, Trump was asked whether he knew about Cohen’s payment.
“No,” Trump replied.
“Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?” another reporter asked Trump.
“No,” Trump replied. “I don’t know.”
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