Why Giuliani's latest claim about the hush money Trump 'funneled' to Stormy Daniels may be his most absurd yet
The latest dispatch in Rudy Giuliani's ever evolving twisted story about the hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels is that Donald Trump wasn't aware of it "at the time."
“[I]t’s our view of it that the President didn’t know about it at the time," Giuliani told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade in a radio interview Friday morning. "And then the President when he found out about it made arrangements for reimbursement.”
Let's just stop right there for a second—what exactly does "it's our view" mean? "Our view," as in, our version of events? "Our view," as in, this is what serial liar Trump has told us? Because "our view" certainly isn't the same thing as simply stating: Donald Trump did not know about the payment.
Honest to god, if Southern District of New York investigators released the full weight of the evidence they used to argue that Trump committed a campaign finance violation in their Cohen sentencing memo, it would surely crush that last leg Trump and Co. are trying to stand on here.
But here's just a taste of what's in the public realm. First of all, there's a recording of Trump and Cohen discussing opening up a company for "the transfer of all that info from our friend, David," referring to David Pecker, CEO of AMI, parent company of the National Enquirer. The conversation reportedly pertained to paying off former Playboy model Karen McDougal, but Cohen did ultimately create Essential Consulting LLC to hide the payment to Daniels.
Second, Trump's story around those hush money payments to both Daniels and McDougal has changed a gazillion times. First, they had "no knowledge of any of this." Then "none of these allegations" were true. Then Trump himself denied knowing anything about the Daniels payment aboard Air Force One. "You'll have to ask Michael Cohen," Trump said on April 5. Oh, wait, but then FBI investigators executed a search warrant on Cohen on April 9, and lo and behold, they had indeed "funneled" money to Daniels, which Trump reimbursed, Uncle Rudy confirmed on May 2.
The next day, Trump put out a 3-tweet treatise about the "monthly retainer" he paid Cohen that he said had "nothing to do with the campaign" because nondisclosure agreements (executed weeks in advance of a national election) are "very common among celebrities and people of wealth." Gee, that’s quite a bit of detail regarding a payment about which Trump said he knew absolutely nothing.
Third, Trump clearly took pains to cover up the payments by disguising them as a retainer and leaving them off his 2017 Financial Disclosure Statement.
Fourth, Cohen was more than explicit in his testimony about Trump agreeing to make the payment and then directing him and Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg to figure out how to structure it. In recapping Cohen's testimony, California Rep. Ro Khanna put a fine point on it.
"Are you telling us, Mr. Cohen, that the president directed transactions in conspiracy with Allen Weisselberg and his son Donald Trump Jr. as part of a criminal conspiracy of financial fraud. Is that your testimony today?," Khanna asked.
"Yes," Cohen responded.
So who to believe? It's a real quandary. Do we place our faith in the guy who's already lied to the American people more than 8,000 times, whose story keeps changing every time new details emerge, who covered his tracks, and whose lawyer can’t even give a straight denial? Or do we believe the guy who has already pleaded guilty to lying, who's going to jail for it, who now has zero incentive to lie and every incentive to the tell the truth, who brought a Trump-signed check to corroborate his story, and whose story matches that of federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York? Such a Friday stumper.