Trump seemed to distance himself from Giulianis remarks while reiterating willingness to speak to Mueller about Russia inquiry
Donald Trump on Friday sought to distance himself from comments made by Rudy Giuliani about the Stormy Daniels scandal.
In freewheeling statements to reporters as he left Washington to speak at the National Rifle Association in Texas, the president also reiterated his willingness to speak to special attorney Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian election interference and links between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Mueller has indicted four former Trump aides.
Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City, joined the president’s legal team last month. In interviews this week, he raised questions about Trump’s own comments about the $130,000 pay that Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, paid to Daniels, an actor in adult films.
Speaking to reporters on the south lawn of the White House on Friday morning, Trump said Giuliani” started yesterday … he’ll get his facts straight “. He added that” virtually everything said has been said incorrectly” about the pay to Daniels.
Cohen, the subject of FBI raids last month, has insisted he paid Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, solely from his personal monies and in order to stillness her and protect Trump’s reputation on the eve of the 2016 election. Questioned by reporters on Air Force One in April, Trump denied any knowledge of the payments.
In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday night, though, Giuliani contradicted Trump and said the president reimbursed Cohen. Giuliani said the money was ” funneled through the law firm and the president repaid it “.
In a second interview with Fox News on Thursday morning, Giuliani seemed to confirm that the timing of the payment was tied to the 2016 election.” Imagine if that came out on 15 October 2016, in the middle of the, you are aware, last debate with Hillary Clinton ,” he said on Fox& Friends.
Trump did not contradict Giuliani in a series of tweets on Thursday. In stilted and legalistic prose, he wrote:” 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 .”
Trump added that” these agreements are … commonly used among celebrities and people of wealth “.
On Friday, Trump said:” Rudy is a great guy … he’s working hard, learn these subjects. He is a great guy .” He added:” He started yesterday. He’ll get his facts straight. It’s actually very simple, there has been a lot of misinformation really .”
Speaking to reporters again by Air force One at Andrews air force base, Trump said:” When Rudy made the statements … Rudy’s great and Rudy had just started and he wasn’t wholly familiar with everything .”
He added:” We love Rudy. He’s a special guy .”
He also insisted he had not changed his story about the payments to Daniels.” Excuse me, excuse me ,” Trump said.” You take a look at what I said. You go back and take a look. You’ll assure what I said .”
On Friday afternoon, Giuliani tried to walk back some of his statements. In a statement, he said:” There is no campaign violation. The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the president’s family. It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not .”
He added:” My references to timing were not describing my understanding of the president’s knowledge, but instead, my understanding of these matters .”
The contradictory statements nonetheless add to the peril posed to Trump by his alleged assignation with Daniels, which the actor has said happened in 2006. In its raid on Cohen’s office in April, the FBI seized documents related to the payment. At the time, Trump called the raids” an attack on our country “. He later confessed, in a Fox interview, that Cohen represented him” like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal “. But he had still not acknowledged any knowledge of it.
About speaking to Mueller, Trump said on Friday:” I would like to speak because we’ve done nothing incorrect .” But he also noted that his lawyers did not want him to do so, and outlined his oft-repeated belief that the investigation is” a pure witch-hunt” carried out by” all Democrat “.
Giuliani’s commentary to Hannity that Trump fired FBI director James Comey because Comey would not confirm that Trump was not the subject of investigation over Russia also caused widespread comment on Wednesday.
Giuliani, Trump said,” knows it’s a witch-hunt, that’s what he knows. Rudy knows it’s a witch-hunt .”
Trump was also asked about progress on his planned meeting with Kim Jong-un.” We’re having very substantive talks with North Korea and a lot of things have already happened with regard to the captives ,” he said, referring to three Americans held in the country.” I think you’re going to be seeing very good things .”
Trump also appeared to suggest a date and place for his meeting with Kim had been set. The United Nations, meanwhile, said on Friday UN aviation agency directors will visit North Korea next week to discuss a request by the country to open new air routes to South Korea.
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