SEVERE WX : Severe Thunderstorm Warning View Alerts

Trump changes his story about Stormy Daniels

President Donald Trump is shifting his story about the Stormy Daniels controversy ...

Posted: May 4, 2018 9:26 AM
Updated: May 4, 2018 9:26 AM

President Donald Trump is shifting his story about the Stormy Daniels controversy following the revelation by his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, that the President reimbursed a payment to the adult film actress by Michael Cohen.

Trump -- who previously said he was not aware of the $130,000 Cohen paid to Daniels before the 2016 election in an effort to keep her quiet about an alleged affair between her and the President -- denied on Thursday that any campaign money was used to reimburse Cohen and said he was paid via retainer. The payment has prompted complaints to the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission over potential violations of campaign finance law.

"Mr. Cohen, an attorney, 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," Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday morning.

"These agreements are very common among celebrities and people of wealth," Trump continued. "In this case it is in full force and effect and will be used in Arbitration for damages against Ms. Clifford (Daniels). The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair. "

He added, "Prior to its violation by Ms. Clifford and her attorney, this was a private agreement. Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction."

Cohen had admitted to paying Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, out of his own pocket through a private LLC. Daniels has sued Trump and Cohen, saying the nondisclosure agreement is void because Trump did not sign it.

The White House has said Trump denies the alleged affair.

Legal implications

Giuliani said on "Fox & Friends" Thursday morning that Cohen attempted to make the Daniels controversy "go away" with the payment -- a suggestion that the agreement was intended to help Trump's election chances.

Upon hearing that comment Thursday morning, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin referred to it as a "confession that this is a campaign finance violation because they wanted to shut her up in October of 2016."

Toobin also said the penalty for violating campaign finance laws "depends on the level of intent. Most FEC, Federal Election Commission, violations are handled civilly. But if it's willful, if it's intentional, it can be handled criminally."

Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Daniels, told CNN's "New Day" on Thursday that he was "speechless" and "stunned" after hearing Giuliani's revelation about the reimbursement. He suggested that there would be a violation of campaign finance laws if Trump and Cohen structured the payment "in a way to avoid detection or in an effort to make it appear to be something that it was not, namely, a retainer payment as opposed to $130,000 reimbursement, that may involve money laundering depending on how it was handled."

"There also may be tax issues relating to the deductibility of those expenses," he continued. "If they were deducted as legal expenses for tax purposes when in reality it had nothing to do with legal services rendered but instead was the reimbursement of the $130,000, that, too, is going to be a problem."

In an interview on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper," Avenatti said he believed Giuliani was trying to get in front of the information inevitably coming out.

"I absolutely believe that," Avenatti said. "I believe that this was an attempt by Giuliani to hang a lantern on this and to disclose it on terms that he believed to be friendly to the President and friendly to him."

But Bradley Smith, a former FEC chairman, told CNN that he doesn't believe the payment constitutes a campaign finance violation.

"I don't think it matters whether Trump paid Cohen back or not," Smith said, adding, "The standard is not: If it's related to the campaign, it's a campaign expenditure. The standard is: It's a campaign expenditure if it is an obligation that would not exist were it not for the campaign."

Giuliani says Cohen, Trump did not discuss payment during election

Giuliani went into further detail in another interview Thursday morning about the extent to which the President was involved with the transaction, suggesting on Fox Business Network that Cohen did not communicate with Trump about the payment at the time he made it to Daniels and that Trump later reimbursed the money after the presidential election was over.

"The money was paid by Michael Cohen in October of 2016. Of course he didn't talk to the presidential candidate then because the man wouldn't have even remembered. I wouldn't remember if you talked to me then. I was with him 24 hours a day," Giuliani said.

"After it was over, there was the opportunity to reimburse," he added, saying, "the President reimbursed him out of non-campaign, non-campaign contribution money, private money, his money, and he did it over a course of 2017. It was mixed in with a couple of other things that have nothing to do with them or anybody else, just things that a lawyer would take care of for his client."

But Giuliani also suggested that Trump may have forgotten about the transaction at some point.

"How many times do you have to go back to your checkbook to see, you know, you forget," he said. "Did I make that contribution, didn't I make it, was it $2,000, $5,000, did I take it from this account or that account?"

He went on to say, "If you have to speak off the cuff, you're going to say, 'well, I did it from here, I did it from there.' Now we have the records, we can see exactly what it was. Now they should drop this."

Shifting explanations

This week's revelations have, at a minimum, deepened a political controversy for Trump as explanations over the Daniels controversy continue to evolve.

Just weeks before the 2016 election, Cohen created a private LLC to pay Daniels following an alleged July 2006 encounter with Trump, The Wall Street Journal reported in January.

In February, Cohen said in a statement that he used his own "personal funds" to facilitate the payment to Daniels.

"Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly," Cohen said at the time.

But Giuliani contradicted that statement on Thursday, telling "Fox & Friends" that Cohen was "definitely reimbursed." He added that he believed Cohen was "trying to help" the Trump family and doing his job as a lawyer.

Trump said last month that he didn't know about the payment and deferred questions about the matter to Cohen. Giuliani told "Fox & Friends" that Trump learned the details about the payment "10 days ago."

The President has since distanced himself from Cohen, who was formerly a top confidant, telling Fox News last week that Cohen had overseen "a tiny, tiny little fraction" of his legal work.

West Lafayette
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 75°
Kokomo
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 73°
Rensselaer
Broken Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 75°
Fowler
Broken Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 75°
Williamsport
Overcast
71° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 71°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
Frankfort
Scattered Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
Delphi
Scattered Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 75°
Monticello
Scattered Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 75°
Logansport
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 50300

Reported Deaths: 2748
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11920692
Lake5432248
Elkhart347058
Allen2902133
St. Joseph205169
Hamilton1665101
Cass16449
Hendricks1446100
Johnson1325118
Porter80238
Tippecanoe7599
Clark68144
Vanderburgh6816
Madison67264
LaPorte60527
Howard59458
Bartholomew59345
Kosciusko5704
Marshall5308
Noble50128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4783
Boone47444
Delaware46952
Hancock46036
Shelby43525
Floyd40444
Morgan33631
Monroe32928
Grant30926
Dubois2976
Henry29717
Montgomery29720
Clinton2893
White26810
Decatur25532
Dearborn25423
Lawrence25225
Vigo2478
Warrick24329
Harrison21722
Greene19332
Miami1922
Jennings17912
Putnam1728
DeKalb1674
Scott1639
Wayne1536
Daviess15017
Perry1459
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1332
Franklin1278
Ripley1277
Wabash1152
Carroll1132
Gibson1132
Fayette1057
Whitley1045
Newton10010
Starke983
Huntington932
Randolph794
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington681
Knox670
Clay665
Pulaski661
Rush613
Posey550
Owen521
Benton510
Spencer501
Adams491
Sullivan471
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Tipton321
Switzerland300
Martin240
Parke230
Ohio220
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events