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Giuliani’s interview with Hannity was more strategic than you think. But here's where he fumbled

  • Giuliani went on Sean Hannity's Fox show to make it clear that Trump paid the $130,000 to silence Daniels.
  • Trump realizes that the DA now has the documents to prove Trump reimbursed lawyer Michael Cohen for the hush money. Giuliani's mission was to let that slip.
  • But then Giuliani went off the rails. And his flubs could have legal consequences for the president.
Rudy Giuliani
Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Rudy Giuliani

Here we go again. Did Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York City, once again say something he should not have said to the media, or was his interview last night on FOX planned? The answer is both.

In an interview last night on "Hannity," one of the FOX network's conservative talk shows hosted by Trump supporter Sean Hannity, Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's counsel de jour, had an extended conversation with Hannity on the issue of whether Trump paid to silence Stormy Daniels, the adult film porn star actress.

We all know that days before the election, Daniels received $130,000 in hush money to shut her up about her alleged sexual encounters with Trump that occurred in 2006. Trump, in turn, continued to vehemently deny that he paid any money or even knew about the transfer of funds. His denial was obvious as he was concerned that the payment may be deemed to violate the federal election laws, one of the areas that the Mueller team is closely looking into.

Until yesterday, not only did Trump deny any such payment, but his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, explained that he paid the $130,000 to silence Daniels out of his own pocket. Trump, in turn, even denied reimbursing Cohen.

"As if trying to walk a tight rope with clogs—Giuliani went on to state that the money was, indeed, 'funneled' through Cohen's firm.  That statement certainly raises eyebrows."

During the interview yesterday, Giuliani made it clear that Trump did pay the $130,000 to silence Daniels. That portion of the statement was clearly planned and well-thought-out as Trump now realizes that the Mueller team and the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, which have obtained all of Cohen's files, likely have the documents to prove that the monies were actually paid by Trump.

That is, the U.S. Attorney's office almost certainly has evidence to prove that Trump was lying because it presumably has all of Cohen's and Trump's bank statements, wires, checks and transfers.

So, it's safe to assume the prosecutors, including Mueller, have "the goods" to prove that the money did come from the president himself. So, that portion of Giuliani's statement was not a fumble but presumably was a conscious decision to have Giuliani allow the accurate information to slip out on behalf of the White House.

Let's not forget that Giuliani has often made blundering statements to the media (like the admission that the Trump ban on immigrants was actually a ban on Muslims). But this statement appears to be strategic and intentional. And Trump does now faces a serious issue as to whether he broke election laws by paying Daniels.

But Giuliani, true to form, did not stop there. During the interview, in typical Giuliani fashion — as if trying to walk a tightrope with clogs — even though he admitted that the money came from Trump, he went on to state that the money was, indeed, "funneled" through Cohen's firm.

That statement, the "funneling" of money, certainly raises eyebrows. Realizing he was in a corner, Giuliani then stated that the money was used for unspecified "expenses" to reimburse Cohen. So, Trump paid Cohen to reimburse him the expense of paying Daniels? Talk about inconsistent! The White House, again, was numbed by the statements, having no comment on the matter.

As Walter Scott once said, "O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!" How can Trump transfer $130,000 to Cohen for expenses while, at the same time, pay Cohen to hush Daniels?

While the Giuliani interview was probably planned to leak that Trump did pay Daniels — which everyone presumed — far from resolving an outstanding issue, it simply raises more questions and it could certainly put him in legal jeopardy as it runs afoul of federal election laws.

Now the question is whether the documents prove that Trump committed a crime by making the payment before the election. Stay tuned ….

Commentary by Richard Roth, an attorney, focusing on sports, white-collar crime, and employment law. Mr. Roth has represented publicly held corporations, privately held businesses, and CEOs, as well as celebrities, athletes, and professional sports organizations. Follow him on Twitter @TheRothLawFirm.

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