Trump adviser Rudolph W. Giuliani said Wednesday that President Trump repaid $130,000 to personal lawyer Michael Cohen to cover the money Mr. Cohen paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels.
Mr. Giuliani said the money wasn’t a campaign matter, and Mr. Trump repaid the funds himself, without using campaign cash, so there can’t be a campaign finance violation involved, as some watchdog groups had alleged.
“It’s not campaign money. No campaign finance violation,” he told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “Funneled to a law firm and the president repaid it.”
Mr. Trump had previously denied knowledge of the payment.
Mr. Giuliani, the former New York mayor who is now part of the president’s legal team negotiating with the special counsel, said the president knew the general arrangement but didn’t know the specifics.
Mr. Cohen paid the $130,000 to Ms. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, as part of a complex legal agreement in 2016 intended to prevent her from publicly claiming she had a sexual relationship with Mr. Trump a decade earlier, before his entry into politics.
The payment was made in the weeks before the 2016 election.
Mr. Trump was asked about the payment by reporters aboard Air Force Once in early April and he denied knowing anything about the payment — including, specifically, denying knowledge of where Mr. Cohen got the money for the payment.
“Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?” asked one reporter.
“No, I don’t know. No,” the president replied.
The president also said at the time he didn’t know why Mr. Cohen made the payments if Ms. Daniels’ allegations were untrue.
Mr. Cohen had also said he made the payments on his own.
Mr. Giuliani said he hadn’t looked into Mr. Cohen’s claim, but said Mr. Trump made payments in installments.
“The payments are perfectly legal. All documented,” he added.
Michael Avenatti, Ms. Daniels’ lawyer, said Mr. Giuliani confirmed what his client had said all along.
“Mr. Trump stood on AF1 and blatantly lied. This followed the lies told by others close to him, including Mr. Cohen. This should never be acceptable in our America. We will not rest until justice is served,” he said on Twitter.
During his lengthy interview with Mr. Hannity, Mr. Giuliani also lashed out at the ongoing special counsel investigation and said it was a “disgrace” for the investigation to rely on former FBI Director James Comey.
“Sorry, Jim, you’re a liar. A disgraceful liar. Every FBI agent in America has his head down because of you,” Mr. Giuliani said.
He also doubted the president will end up sitting for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller — though he said it depends heavily on the conditions and circumstances.
“Right now the odds are he wouldn’t be interviewed, but I don’t close my mind to it,” Mr. Giuliani said.