Stormy Daniels' lawyer: I'm disgusted

Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti says Americans should be disgusted that President Trump lied for months about a $130,000 payment made to Daniels', after Rudy Giuliani said Trump repaid his personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Posted: May 4, 2018 8:42 AM
Updated: May 4, 2018 8:45 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 592709

Reported Deaths: 9340
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion818931301
Lake44495668
Allen32035543
Hamilton28533305
St. Joseph26847372
Elkhart24132341
Vanderburgh18759213
Tippecanoe17482122
Johnson14583285
Porter14464160
Hendricks13931242
Madison10600213
Vigo10513174
Clark10300132
Monroe9109108
Delaware8861133
LaPorte8825155
Howard7916138
Kosciusko788877
Warrick648290
Hancock642597
Bartholomew629294
Floyd6184105
Wayne5956157
Grant5848110
Dubois546172
Boone536367
Morgan519491
Henry496164
Marshall494984
Cass473160
Noble462157
Dearborn461344
Jackson416145
Shelby404279
Lawrence382075
Clinton366340
Gibson357856
DeKalb338563
Montgomery336651
Harrison332642
Knox328239
Miami311243
Steuben308742
Adams296535
Whitley295525
Wabash293945
Ripley293745
Putnam286847
Huntington285058
Jasper284434
White268438
Daviess262172
Jefferson253138
Decatur242882
Fayette242448
Greene235660
Posey232826
Wells230147
LaGrange224761
Clay218732
Scott217337
Randolph209041
Jennings193235
Sullivan189331
Spencer182717
Fountain180425
Washington178218
Starke172041
Jay163122
Fulton160230
Owen160137
Carroll153015
Orange152133
Rush150818
Perry148727
Vermillion145533
Franklin143833
Parke12908
Tipton128432
Pike114125
Blackford108022
Pulaski95137
Newton89721
Brown85730
Benton84510
Crawford7669
Martin70413
Warren6607
Switzerland6235
Union6145
Ohio4707
Unassigned0374

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 831066

Reported Deaths: 10281
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin97996705
Cuyahoga826131062
Hamilton61629439
Montgomery41873399
Summit33603729
Lucas30316597
Butler29859228
Stark24951413
Warren18974139
Lorain18217212
Mahoning16815336
Lake15491135
Clermont15235104
Delaware1392977
Licking12765132
Trumbull12445306
Fairfield1226080
Greene11682133
Medina11191165
Clark10648264
Wood10000154
Allen9579126
Portage8923106
Miami890573
Richland8848116
Marion7341113
Tuscarawas7162174
Columbiana7117124
Pickaway705750
Wayne6815165
Muskingum676342
Erie5943118
Hancock540490
Ross532787
Scioto523663
Geauga487755
Darke458589
Ashtabula440572
Lawrence436652
Union432828
Mercer425887
Sandusky424462
Auglaize415159
Seneca415155
Huron413638
Shelby411021
Jefferson404566
Belmont397840
Washington373140
Athens36549
Putnam365372
Madison341429
Knox337722
Ashland333838
Fulton327143
Defiance320178
Crawford315169
Preble312434
Brown298219
Logan293229
Ottawa283034
Clinton279643
Williams271166
Highland263618
Jackson258343
Guernsey244025
Champaign242827
Fayette228029
Morrow22404
Perry222618
Holmes219462
Henry211947
Hardin205033
Coshocton198920
Van Wert198044
Gallia191626
Wyandot191449
Adams165815
Pike165217
Hocking164423
Carroll150116
Paulding139921
Noble118340
Meigs103521
Monroe96129
Harrison8598
Morgan79628
Vinton67213
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
26° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 15°
Angola
Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 15°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
24° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 19°
Feels Like: 16°
Fort Wayne
Clear
23° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 13°
Lima
Partly Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 13°
Evening Light Snow Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events