Thursday 20 September 2018

Trump: No campaign cash paid to Stormy

Stormy Daniels with a bodyguard as she arrives to perform in a show in downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Photo: Stephanie Strasburg/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Stormy Daniels with a bodyguard as she arrives to perform in a show in downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Photo: Stephanie Strasburg/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Chris Vander

US President Donald Trump has denied any money from his campaign was used to buy a porn star's silence over an affair he says never happened.

He admitted in a tweet lawyer Michael Cohen had paid off Stormy Daniels during the campaign and was reimbursed. Using campaign funds could have been a violation of federal law.

Rudy Giuliani with Donald Trump after the election in 2016. Photo: Getty Images
Rudy Giuliani with Donald Trump after the election in 2016. Photo: Getty Images

Earlier, his legal aide Rudy Giuliani said the money was Mr Trump's personal cash.

Ms Daniels says she had an affair with Mr Trump in 2006.

The president admitted that Mr Cohen had "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".

Earlier Mr Giuliani said the president repaid Mr Cohen for a $130,000 (€108,000) payment to Ms Daniels, a claim that appeared to contradict his client.

During an appearance on Fox News channel's 'Hannity', programme, Mr Giuliani said the money had been "funnelled ... through the law firm and the president repaid it".

Asked if Mr Trump knew about the arrangement, Mr Giuliani said: "He didn't know about the specifics of it, as far as I know. But he did know about the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this, like I take care of things like this for my clients. I don't burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people."

Mr Trump told reporters several weeks ago that he didn't know about the $130,000 payment to Ms Daniels as part of a non-disclosure agreement she signed days before the 2016 presidential election. Asked aboard Air Force One whether he knew about the payment, Mr Trump said flatly: "No." Mr Trump also said he didn't know why Mr Cohen had made the payment or where he got the money.

In a phone interview with 'Fox and Friends' last week, however, Mr Trump appeared to muddy the waters, saying that Mr Cohen represented him in the "crazy Stormy Daniels deal".

Mr Giuliani's revelation seemed aimed at reducing the president's legal exposure. But outside experts said it raised a number of questions, including whether the money represented repayment of an undisclosed loan or could be seen as reimbursement for a campaign expenditure.

Mr Giuliani, who joined Mr Trump's legal team last month, said the president had repaid Mr Cohen over several months, indicating the payments continued through at least the presidential transition, if not into his presidency.

He also says the payment "is going to turn out to be perfectly legal" because "that money was not campaign money".

Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, says she had a sexual encounter with Mr Trump in 2006 and was paid to keep quiet as part of a non-disclosure agreement she is now seeking to invalidate.

She has also filed a defamation suit against Mr Trump, who denies having sex with Ms Daniels.

Ms Daniels's lawyer, Michael Avenatti, called Mr Giuliani's comment "a stunning revelation".

"Mr 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 said.

Mr Cohen's payment to the president's accuser in the weeks leading up to the presidential election could be cast as an illegal contribution but not if he were acting on the president's behest and with his money.

The revelation from Mr Giuliani came as Mr Cohen is under escalating legal pressure. He is facing a criminal investigation in New York and FBI agents raided his home and office several weeks ago.

The FBI was seeking records about the non-disclosure agreement.

Irish Independent

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