Trump Says The Stormy Daniels Payment & Reimbursement Is "Common" For Wealthy People
While he's remained mostly mum on the matter of Stormy Daniels and her allegations of an affair with him, President Trump broke his uncharacteristic silence Thursday morning. In a series of three no-nonsense tweets, Trump admitted he paid lawyer Michael Cohen a reimbursement and offered a legal-sounding explanation for why he did so.
Trump's first tweet on the the matter concerned itself with clarifying that no campaign funds were used in the transaction. Trump wrote that Cohen received a monthly retainer fee "not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign." And, according to Trump's tweet, it was from Cohen's private, non-campaign-funded stance in "which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA."
The second tweet notes that NDAs are common among "celebrities and people of wealth" and the one signed by Stormy Daniels remains "in full force and effect." Trump went on to write, "The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair."
Trump's third tweet seemed an attempt to further discredit Daniels — whose given name is Stephanie Clifford — by pointing out she had previously "signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair." It ended with a reiteration that campaign funds were never in play.
While Trump has tweeted about everything from the physical appearance of a political opponent's wife to the president's willingness to utilize his "bigger," "powerful" nuclear button on North Korea, he's been remarkably careful to refrain from commenting on the deluge of Stormy Daniels headlines. (He did seem to refer to the Daniels allegations as a "con job" in an April 18 tweet. For that, Daniels has filed a lawsuit against Trump for defamation.)
Trump's latest tweets come in response to the admission by Rudy Giuliani that Trump has repaid Cohen the $130,000 in hush money. CNN reports that during an appearance Wednesday on Sean Hannity's titular Fox News program, Giuliani told the host, "That money was not campaign money." When Hannity asked if the payment was legal because they "funneled it through a law firm," Giuliani responded, "Funneled it through the law firm, and the President repaid him."
Giuliani joined Trump's legal team in April, after the departure in March of the president's former top lawyer, John Dowd. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Giuliani said he'd been given the green light by Trump to reveal the president's personal role in repaying Cohen.
Trump's first personally made comments on the subject of Daniels came on April 5, and they were exceedingly brief. When asked by a reporter if he knew about the hush money payment to Daniels, Trump said, "No." According to New York Magazine, he also said that he didn't know where the money Cohen used to pay Daniels had come from — an admission that seems at least complicated by his Thursday tweets.
Further complications include the fact that, according to Vanity Fair's Emily Jane Fox, Cohen himself has denied the assertion that Trump — or anyone — reimbursed him for his $130,000 payment to Daniels. The president just contradicted that claim on the proudly public venue of Twitter.
Still, anyone hoping to prove Trump has made knowingly false statements may have a hard time doing so. Giuliani has since clarified that Trump reimbursed Cohen the money, but had been unaware of the original payment when it first took place. And as the New York Times reports, Cohen is currently under FBI investigation — which could be used by Trump defenders to paint the lawyer as an unreliable source of information.
Based on Trump's tweets, the president appears to consider himself innocent in the Stormy Daniels matter.