At first, it may sound like the former mayor of New York City just spilled the beans on President Donald Trump and his alleged hush agreement with an adult film star. But when Rudy Giuliani revealed Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen for the Stormy Daniels payment, he probably wasn't trying to rat him out. The exchange of money, Giuliani told Fox News' Sean Hannity, was "perfectly legal" and in no way violated campaign finance laws, in his view. Still, the admission could be problematic for the president.
Trump, for the record, has said he didn't know anything about the $130,000 payment to Daniels, but has acknowledged that Cohen represented him in a case related to her. The White House has also vehemently denied allegations that the president and Daniels had an affair back in 2011.
During the interview on Wednesday, Giuliani told Hannity:
That money was not campaign money. Sorry, I'm giving you a fact you don't know. It's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation. ... They funneled through a law firm and the president repaid it.
Hannity even seemed a bit shocked. In fact, he asked Giuliani if he was aware of the fact that Trump had actually denied in the past knowing anything about the payment. Giuliani responded:
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.
Later on, Giuliani told Fox News that he actually simply meant Trump had paid Cohen back for "expenses" in general and didn't know those expenses involved Daniels until the public found out about the case. Though Giuliani probably brought this point up to try and prove that Trump didn't violate campaign finance law, people are fixating on a different takeaway entirely: Guiliani just contradicted his own client's denial. And the public totally noticed.
For example, Michael Avenatti, Daniels' attorney, was quick to tweet about the Fox News segment:
1/2. We predicted months ago that it would be proven that the American people had been lied to as to the $130k payment and what Mr. Trump knew, when he knew it and what he did in connection with it. Every American, regardless of their politics, should be outraged ...
But that's far from the only topic Giuliani's interview with Hannity touched on. Among other things, the former NYC mayor bashed James Comey as a liar, claiming that "every FBI agent in America has his head down" because of him. That, however, shouldn't come as much of a surprise, considering how often Trump's insulted the ex-FBI director he himself fired. Before Comey's book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies & Leadership, was released, Trump tweeted:
Slippery James Comey, a man who always ends up badly and out of whack (he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!
In fact, Trump has slammed him so many times, Comey speculated aloud on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that the president's treating him like a breakup he just can't get past. The former FBI director, at the same time, has been pretty frank about Trump. For example, he told USA Today that Trump is outright "morally unfit" to be president.
Giuliani clearly disagrees very strongly. The Trump loyalist actually just announced earlier in April that he's joining Trump's legal team to help bring an end to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Both Trump and the Kremlin have denied collusion allegations.
Though Trump has spoken favorably of Guiliani in the past, it's not yet clear how the president will react to his recent interview with Hannity. Either way, Giuliani claimed to Fox News that Trump was fully aware of what was going to be said Wednesday night.