MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Giuliani Confesses to Spreading 'Rumors' About Stormy Daniels

The president's admittedly uninformed and unreliable lawyer says Donald Trump never lies to the press.

MEGA / NewscomMEGA / NewscomThis crazy Stormy Daniels deal keeps getting crazier. On Friday, Donald Trump said Rudy Giuliani, who supposedly is speaking on the president's behalf as his lawyer, does not have his facts straight regarding the $130,000 hush payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. On ABC's This Week yesterday, Giuliani seemed rattled by his client's criticism, confessing that he had reported "rumor" as fact in several interviews last week. "This is more rumor than it is anything else," he said, referring to his own account of how Trump had reimbursed his lawyer Michael Cohen for paying Daniels to keep quiet about her affair with the future president. "I can just say it's rumor. I can prove it's rumor, but I can't prove it's fact. Yet. Maybe we will."

All of this is mystifying for several reasons. First, after his jaw-dropping interview with Sean Hannity last Wednesday, Giuliani insisted that he and the president were on the same page: Before the interview, he had consulted with Trump, who knew and approved what he planned to say. Second, the morning after the interview, Trump seemed to confirm the gist of Giuliani's account with a series of tweets acknowledging that he had reimbursed Cohen, as part of "a monthly retainer," for the cost of the nondisclosure agreement that Daniels signed. Third, Giuliani is supposed to be helping Trump, but whenever he opens his mouth he inspires fresh speculation about exactly which law the president may have violated through his arrangement with Cohen.

The leading contenders so far are the limit on individual campaign contributions, reporting rules for campaign expenditures, and a law that requires federal officials to disclose liabilities of more than $10,000. Giuliani's position, which may or may not coincide with Trump's, is that the payment to Daniels was not a contribution because it was reimbursed, was not a campaign expenditure because the motivation for it was primarily personal rather than political, and was not a debt that Trump owed Cohen because it was part of billable legal expenses. "The retainer agreement," Giuliani explained to George Stephanopoulos on This Week, "was to repay expenses, which turns out to have included this one."

That circumlocution is Giuliani's way of reconciling two apparently contradictory assertions: that Trump did not know about Cohen's payment to Daniels and that he reimbursed Cohen for it. According to Giuliani, Trump paid Cohen $420,000 in monthly installments of $35,000, and $130,000 of that covered the payment to Daniels, which was a legal expense so routine and trivial that Cohen never bothered mentioning it to Trump. Then again, that story, also according to Giuliani, may be no more than a "rumor."

If so, it is not a very plausible rumor. Nor is Giuliani's claim that Cohen paid off Daniels to avoid embarrassing Trump's wife, Melania, rather than to keep the story of Daniels' affair with Trump out of the news during the final weeks of his presidential campaign. "It was to settle a personal issue that would be embarrassing to him and his wife," Giuliani told Stephanopoulos.

Yet Giuliani also suggested, during a Fox and Friends interview last Thursday, that Cohen was worried the Stormy Daniels story would hurt Trump's electoral chances. "Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the, you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton," Giuliani said. "Cohen didn't even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job."

Incredible as Giuliani's tale may be, it also must be said that Cohen's fears were almost certainly misplaced. Trump survived multiple accusations from women who said he had kissed or groped them against their will, combined with a video in which he bragged about such behavior. What are the odds that reports of a consensual affair would have stopped him from winning the election? Trump has a well-known history as an indiscreet philanderer, although he denies this particular relationship. People who voted for him understood that he was boorish and unfaithful. It did not stop them.

If adultery is not the scandal here, neither is dishonesty. When Stephanopoulos asked if "it's OK to lie to the press," Giuliani acknowledged there have been "a few presidents who did that." But according to Giuliani, Trump is not one of them. "I don't think that this president has done that," he said. Of all the implausible claims that Giuliani made yesterday, that may be the most risible. Trump lies routinely, reflexively, and extravagantly, but his supporters do not seem to hold it against him.

So we are left, probably, with an arguable violation of a reporting requirement. If you think Trump knowingly broke the law to keep embarrassing information out of the news prior to the election, that would indeed be a pretty big deal. But when you listen to the president and his legal advisers, it is hard to believe they are sophisticated enough to be guilty of that crime.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Just Say'n||

    Trump is a liar, also water is wet.

    Also, this happened on Friday.

    www.nationalreview.com/2018/05.....-missteps/

  • Just Say'n||

    In case anyone was wondering why Russia fever dreams have been replaced with talk about Stormy Daniels.

  • Illocust||

    Ah, that is interesting. I imagine most of the media will just so talking about the whole Russia thing, so they never have to admit there is no evidence. Except of course for the fringes they'll stay strong on Trump is a Russian mole.

  • MSimon||

    OK suppose the Stormy thing blows up in Trup's face. What is the outcome?

    A fine.

    That is it.

  • Wizard4169||

    Is it really lying if you're so delusional you believe your own bullshit?

  • Hugh Akston||

    If there's one thing I learned from the 2016 presidential campaign, it's that Trump supporters will howl for the blood of public officials who lie to investigators and the media to cover up even minor and harmless misdeeds. So the question is whether they will start showing up to Trump campaign rallies wearing shirts that read "Trump For Prison 2020", "Make Prison Great Again", or "Build That Wall (Around Trump)".

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    What difference, at this point, does it make?

  • John||

    No Hugh they won't. And the fact that people like you will get angry about it will just make doing it all the more fun for them.

  • Agammamon||

    People weren't howling for Clinton's blood because she told some lies. They wanted blood for the misdeeds the lies were covering up.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    What have we learned? Lawyers and politicians lie. A billionaire politician is a sleazeball. Trump's team can't seem to get their stories straight. A porn star will only keep her mouth shut until she realizes that she can make more money or garner more fame. The media will go after Trump for any reason that they can make stick.

    That about sum it up?

  • John||

    That and no one who doesn't already hate Trump gives a shit about any of this. It amazes me that anyone thinks otherwise. It also amazes me that the media makes the charge that Trump lies to them like it means anything. The public hates the media. The media is so arrogant and self-important they actually think lying to the media is some kind of meaningful sin to the public. No one who supports a politician is going to stop doing so because said politician lied to the media. In fact, they are likely to like the politician even more than they already do. And that is true regardless of politics.

  • Hail Rataxes||

    You realize Trump is also lying to the public, right?

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    See above: "Lawyers and politicians lie. A billionaire politician is a sleazeball."

    What did you expect?

  • John||

    About shit that they don't care about that has nothing to do with why they voted for him. They don't care if he banged a porn star. And they understand that the only reason he is lying to the media about it is because the media are assholes who won't ever let anything go. You care about this because you don't like Trump/. If this involved a politician you liked, you wouldn't care about it.

  • SusanM||

    They don't care if he banged a porn star.

    And more than a few consider that a reason to love the guy.

  • JoeBlow123||

    He did it when his wife was pregnant. There is no way to spin this that does not make him a morally reprehensible piece of trash.

  • Nardz||

    Meh

    You don't speak for Milanea, nor know the details of their marriage. It is quite possible, perhaps even odds, that she was aware of it before it happened. Is it inconceivable that she green lighted extra marital relations during her pregnancy? Either way, it's between them.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Sure it is possible. I do not believe it though.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Republican-conservative "family values" on display once again.

    What a lousy bunch of people these right-wing rubes have become.

    Time to start trying to explain away the sketchy Russian money that made its way into Trumpworld through Michael Cohen's slush fund account, clingers. You guys are starting to remind me of the dead-enders who apologized for and defended Nixon while his Republican administration was unraveling.

    Carry on, clingers.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    "The media will go after Trump for any reason that they can make stick."

    Since when has being able to make something stick been a prerequisite for the media?

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOBS!

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Is this a lusty call to Stormy Daniels, or a ringing commentary to all those involved in this spectacle?

    Because both seem appropriate.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Giuliani Confesses to Spreading 'Rumors' About Stormy Daniels

    He was actually saying that he'd given her a copy of his favorite Fleetwood Mack album. Come on, people.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Second Hand News about a Gold Dust Woman who is Never Going Back Again. Time long ago she cried Oh Daddy, Don't Stop, and You Make Loving Fun. But now she's merely saying you can Go Your Own Way.

  • John||

    Stormy promised to Never Break the Chain.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Is her real name "Stormy"?

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    No, she actually started out her career as "Partly Cloudy"

  • Jerryskids||

    With a chance of a light shower. That's what attracted Trump.

  • The Last American Hero||

    It's absolutely comical watching the same people that said "Bill Clinton's sexual exploits don't concern me, so long as the economy is humming" suddenly switch sides with the people that were so concerned with the dignity of the office. Not so amusing is the lack of attention given to actual issues on foreign and domestic policy as the media follows the President's sexual exploits.

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    And by exploits you mean rape.

    Flight logs show Bill Clinton flew on sex offender's jet much more than previously known
    ..."Bill Clinton … associated with a man like Jeffrey Epstein, who everyone in New York, certainly within his inner circles, knew was a pedophile," said Conchita Sarnoff, of the Washington, D.C. based non-profit Alliance to Rescue Victims of Trafficking, and author of a book on the Epstein case called "TrafficKing." "Why would a former president associate with a man like that?"...

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Trump associated with Epstein as well. "I've known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,'' Trump booms from a speakerphone. "He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it -- Jeffrey enjoys his social life."

  • Nardz||

    Source?

  • junyo||

    And it's just as comical watching the people that cared so very much about where Clinton was sticking his slick Willy (I remember the logic of 'if he's unfaithful to his wife, what make you think he can be trusted with anything else?' being tossed around, a lot) go all in on 'So what he banged a porn star while his wife was pregnant?'

    Seriously, after an election, both sides should go out in the middle of the street and trade protest/counter protest signs, and exchange talking points. Because no one seriously cares about anything beyond Team, and hurting the other side.

  • VinniUSMC||

    (I remember the logic of 'if he's unfaithful to his wife, what make you think he can be trusted with anything else?' being tossed around, a lot)

    Funny, I don't recall that logic being tossed around at all.

    It amazes me how people can still back Clinton (the President of the US) for diddling an intern (among other things) while in the White House, but are now mad that Trump had sex with a porn star 10 years before even being nominated.

  • Fred G. Sanford||

    What difference did it make whether the affair happens while the president is in office or before? Either his personal life is off limits or it's not. And if you don't recall "that logic being tossed around at all" then you were either asleep or not paying attention. It most certainly was, and it started before Monica came along. Now that Trump is in office the same bible thumpers who thought an adulterer was too immoral to be in office suddenly don't care.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    If you think Trump knowingly broke the law to keep embarrassing information out of the news prior to the election, that would indeed be a pretty big deal.

    I guess the question is, do any of the laws that Trump may have broken have a mens rea requirement? Not that it matters, of course.

  • John||

    Why would it be a big deal? Just what laws were supposed to be broken?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Just what laws were supposed to be broken?

    FTA:

    The leading contenders so far are the limit on individual campaign contributions, reporting rules for campaign expenditures, and a law that requires federal officials to disclose liabilities of more than $10,000.

    Whether or not mens rea is a requirement would come into play if he "knowingly broke the law" or not, would it not? E.g., if the offense requires mens rea, then he could claim that he didn't know it was illegal, and that could be a defense, right?

    Although really I wasn't making a serious comment before, but snarking about how mens rea doesn't matter anymore anyway, thanks to Comey's excusing away Hillary's potential transgressions with her email debacle. That probably was too obscure a reference though.

  • John||

    That is a very broad view of contribution. By that reading anything anyone does for you while you are campaigning is an in kind contribution. Not only is that a bullshit interpretation. It is one that the public will never buy as an excuse for removing a President.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    By that reading anything anyone does for you while you are campaigning is an in kind contribution.

    I wasn't commenting on the validity of alleged accusation. FWIW, I agree it's complete bullshit, but that's apparently what some progs are reaching for.

    It is one that the public will never buy as an excuse for removing a President.

    Well, the part of the public that isn't batshit crazy wouldn't accept it, but progs? They're a different story.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    To progs, such a broad definition will only apply until Trump is gone. Then it will be ridiculous to level a similar accusation at a democrat candidate.

    Democrats of course never being short on hypocrisy.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Everybody involved in the Stormy Daniels story is sleazy. Donald Trump is obviously a sleazy adulterer. Nothing new there, and nothing illegal: we all know that he's an American Berlusconi. Stormy Daniels seduces Trump and then threatens to tell. Sleazy, but she's a porn star. Cohen negotiates a $130,000 payment not to tell. Sleazy, but he's a lawyer. Stormy Daniels agrees, cashes the check, and issues a statement that she never had sex with Trump. Doubly sleazy, but she's a porn star who obviously will do anything for money. Then Stormy Daniels realizes she can milk more money out of this situation, and tells. Triply sleazy, but she's an ageing porn star who will do anything for money. The same Democrat media that has lectured the public incessantly that Clinton's pecadillos are irrelevant to his public service are shocked, shocked, that the President hooked up with a porn star. Sleazy, but typical for politicians and journalists. Mueller & Company and USA-SDNY intentionally misinterprets the Cohen payoff as a campaign contribution. Seriously sleazy.

    Trump could avoided all of this if he had considered where porn stars place in the hot/crazy matrix.

  • signalfire||

    Stormy Daniels did not 'seduce' DT - she clearly states that she simply (and barely) tolerated his coming on to her after they had dinner together - a dinner she thought was going to be in a restaurant but he instead had in his hotel room. It was years later that Cohen hunted her down, paid her to keep quiet in lieu of her talking to a magazine that wanted the story, and for good measure, apparently sent a thug to intimidate her. Seeing as DT never signed the NDA, she wants to be free to tell the whole story, which apparently is even more interesting than we've heard so far. There may even be tapes.

    Moral of the story? Don't fuck with people who fuck people for a living.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    You assume a lot of facts not actually in evidence. Personally, I hope she ends up bankrupted for breach of contract for violating her NDA.

  • Don't look at me.||

    If even a small percentage of these stories are true, what an interesting life Trump has led. Hats off, sir.

  • Rich||

    "I can prove it's rumor"

    "A politician said it. QED!"

  • Page Turner||

    I'm not a political reporter with an agenda which is why I had no trouble understanding what Giuliani said on Wednesday and again on Sunday.
    1. Cohen acted on his own. Rich people get these shakedown suits all the time. Cohen handled it figuring $130K was cheap compared to most extortion attempts.
    2. Stormy put in writing that nothing ever took place. Was she lying then or is she lying now?
    3. Trump didn't know about it until recently.
    4. Giuliani was with Trump 24/7 during the campaign during this time and heard nothing about it but would have if it had been taken seriously.
    5. Trump replenished Cohen's retainer monthly so Cohen knew he'd be paid back. No need to bring it up to Trump - especially once he had the worries of the world on his shoulders. The extortion was handled.
    6. There is nothing illegal about a man using his own money to protect his family from embarrassment by an extortionist.

  • Tony||

    So can anybody get paid that much by falsely claiming to have been fucked by Trump? Asking for me.

  • JoeBlow123||

    "6. There is nothing illegal about a man using his own money to protect his family from embarrassment by an extortionist."

    ... dude fucked a porn star when his wife was pregnant. I seriously do not think Trump gives one flying fuck about anyone who is not Donald J. Trump.

  • signalfire||

    RE #2: Stormy wrote the denial in accordance with the NDA SHE signed. The one Donnie/David Dennison/John Miller/John Barron/Dotard didn't bother to sign. Given this fact, she wants out of the agreement, especially since DDDJMJBD is lying about her.
    3: Trump knew about it all along. Thus the photo of her with him and his idiot grin.
    4. She's not extorting him and in fact could have sold the story for far more than $130,000 worth of 'home equity loans' - remember that lie? That was only a few weeks ago. He's the one full on lying and going around paying out hush money like it's normal. She didn't want more money, she wants to be free to say what actually happened because there's apparently more to the story, and THAT'S what Donnie Dotard is worried about. So is Cohen, which means his other 'clients' may have something to worry about. Makes you wonder how many women Cohen had to hunt down in the weeks before the election and pay off... I bet there were dozens of them. Donnie is a pig.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    So tired of this shot from people with massive anti Trump bias. Why don't you go peddle this crap on Vox where you and the progs can all, have a big circle jerk over it?

  • JoeBlow123||

    "If you think Trump knowingly broke the law to keep embarrassing information out of the news prior to the election, that would indeed be a pretty big deal."

    $130,000 dollars in a multi-billion election campaign. This is the bright lights that are being used to distract us from the bodies being dumped in the Potomac.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Funny how all this I being pursued to the nth degree, when Hillary, who is guilty of multiple counts of murder, treason,etc. escapes any real scrutiny. And she actually was in cahoots with various parties in Russia.

  • Tony||

    You are insane. You know that right?

  • Rockabilly||

    A nice lookin' lady like Stormy will give all kinds of perversions to the man dog. Get his mind thinking like it was a letter to Penthouse that started:

    Dear Penthouse:
    I never did think I'd be writing to you about something that happened to yours truly.

    But here I am. My name is unimportant but I am an important man. It happened one night, I was at my usual hangout, and then she walked in.
    It was like as if a bulb when off in my brain, one minute I was depressed thinking about all the bull shit life brings, and then everything changed to - well like it was when I was 17 and just did what I felt like - skip school, smoke some pot, listen to some records and maybe try to score with some chick.

    And then I felt that way, I was 17 not giving a shit, and Stormy, that's her name, sat beside me and said: "now what's some guy like you doing alone? Would you mind if I sat beside you?

    No, please do. My name is unimportant but I am an important man. What's your name?

    Stormy, but tell me your first name.

    I'm Rudy.

    OK Rudy, do you want to skip school and smoke some pot?

    Sure, I got the new Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin lps, why don't we go to my pad and smoke some weed and well see what pops up.

    Oh Rudy, sounds far out

  • Barry Gold||

    How about if he paid her off because his ego just can't stand negative publicity, regardless of its effect on his campaign? Is that illegal?

    Because it seems to me that's as likely an explanation for the payoff as any other. This President has the weakest ego I can recall seeing in any public figure during my 70+ years on this Earth.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    Sounds like Giuliani's taken Chris Christie's place and has the same future in politics.

  • Heraclitus||

    People will get focused on the legal arguments, but why isn't anyone demanding that this guy resign. RESIGN NOW!. For moral reasons. For the fact that America should demand that its leaders have at least one ounce of integrity. It's a simple argument. Why isn't anyone making this demand? You may not like Pence but America's integrity is washing down the drain. If we do not demand his resignation then every future politician will have this precedent to lean on.

    Trump - resign now. Resign today. You are not morally worthy of the office.

  • Liberty Lover||

    Giuliani, hard to believe this guy ever held elected office.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online