May 3, 2018

Rudy Giuliani sends Trump into Stormy waters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Rudy Giuliani's bombshell comments about Stormy Daniels prompted a President Trump tweetstorm today.

Why it matters: Now representing Trump in the Mueller probe, Giuliani — who has a reputation of being a brawler — may be creating separate legal woes for Trump.

The latest...

  • Giuliani told Sean Hannity that he "didn't know about the specifics of [the Stormy Daniels payment] ... but he did know about the general arrangement."
    • But asked last month if he knew about the $130,000 pay off, Trump replied: "No."
  • In a string of morning tweets Thursday, the president offered an explanation defending the payment to Daniels, and said that non-disclosure agreements like this one are "very common among celebrities and people of wealth. 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..." He also denied the affair once again.
    • Be smart: Washington reporters who cover Trump and the White House speculate that today's tweets, which were packed with legal language and not written in the president's signature style, were not sent by Trump.
  • "Asked about his remarks after finishing the Fox News interview, Giuliani said that what might have seemed to some viewers — including, perhaps, Hannity — like a slip of the tongue, was actually a planned disclosure," writes the New York Times' Michael Shear.
  • And Giuliani doubled down on his comments this morning on Fox & Friends, saying, "Imagine if that came out on October 15th, 2016 in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton? ... Cohen didn't even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job."
  • The bottom line: "Giuliani has historically been something of a loose cannon who is not used to having his words carefully managed," Shear writes.

The legal questions...

  • Giuliani told Hannity his explanation of the Stormy Daniels settlement "removes the campaign finance violation" because campaign money wasn't used. But there could still be legal issues, the AP's Jill Colvin and Chad Day report.
  • Timing: "Giuliani’s insistence the money had nothing to do with the campaign is complicated by the fact that Daniels’ silence was secured just days before the 2016 presidential election, and as Trump was dealing with the fallout from the 'Access Hollywood' tape in which he bragged about sexually assaulting women."
  • Full disclosure: "All campaign expenses, including payments and loans, are supposed to be disclosed to the FEC."

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

There are no COVID-19 patients in hospital in New Zealand, which reported just 21 active cases after days of zero new infections. A top NZ health official said Tuesday he's "confident we have broken the chain of domestic transmission."

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.9 million tests).

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Coronavirus antibody tests are still relatively unreliable, and it's unclear if people who get the virus are immune to getting it again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned on Tuesday.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 5,588,299 — Total deaths: 350,417 — Total recoveries — 2,286,827Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,680,625 — Total deaths: 98,902 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy