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Trump Says He Hasn't Changed His Story Regarding Payments To Porn Star

May 4, 2018
Originally published on May 4, 2018 4:25 pm

Updated at 4:25 p.m. ET

President Trump poured doubt Friday onto statements made by his new attorney, Rudy Giuliani, about the case in which another lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid to silence the porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Trump didn't detail what he believed was incorrect about Giuliani's account, but he told reporters on Friday morning at the White House that the former New York mayor had only "started a day ago" and "he'll get his facts straight."

Giuliani has been a longtime Trump loyalist and his formal addition to the president's legal team was announced April 19.

Giuliani told Fox News on Wednesday night that Trump had paid Cohen a retainer of $35,000 per month, part of which went toward reimbursing him for a $130,000 payment to Daniels, who alleges she had a sexual relationship with Trump.

Trump then acknowledged the payments on Thursday on Twitter while denying Daniels' underlying allegation about sexual contact. Trump had previously said he was unaware of any payments to Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford.

On Friday, Trump told reporters on his way out to his helicopter that Giuliani's facts hadn't been correct, and there "has been a lot of misinformation," without saying what had been wrong. Then Giuliani issued a written statement in which he said he sought to "clarify the views I expressed over the past few days."

Revised remarks

First, although Giuliani had said on Fox News that Trump's payment to Daniels, via Cohen, was connected to the 2016 race — imagine if Daniels' allegations had been public within a month of Election Day, Giuliani asked — he said in his Friday statement there was no "campaign violation."

"The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the president's family," he said. "It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not."

Second, Giuliani appeared to want to void everything he'd said about the timeline involved with Trump's awareness of the Daniels payment.

Giuliani and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders have said Trump only became aware recently of how his payments to Cohen had been used. So the president wasn't lying to reporters aboard Air Force One when he denied knowledge, in this construction, according to Sanders.

Now, Giuliani says "his references to timing" were based on his own understanding and he was "not describing my understanding of the president's knowledge."

And third, Giuliani invoked what is becoming a standard defense by Trump and his supporters: He couldn't have obstructed justice in firing then-FBI Director James Comey in 2017 because he has broad powers to hire and fire people under the Constitution.

Questions, however, continue to swirl in the Russia imbroglio about whether Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller might be investigating whether Trump acted with the intent to frustrate the work of the FBI — which would be against the law.

The special counsel

Trump also said Friday that he would "love to meet" with Mueller, but that he wants to make sure he would be "treated fairly."

"I would love to go. Nothing I want to do more," but, Trump says, he needs to "find that we're going to be treated fairly, because everybody sees it now and it is a pure witch hunt."

Trump said that here are 13 "angry Democrats" working on the special counsel's investigation and that Mueller "worked for Obama for eight years." Mueller, a Republican, worked for George W. Bush for eight years and for President Barack Obama for 4 1/2 years.

Later, at Andrews Air Force Base, Trump asserted that he and his camp were not backing away from their previous statements.

"We're not changing any stories," he said, admonishing reporters for "bringing up that kind of crap."

"You take a look at what I said," Trump told reporters Friday, when questioned about his previous statement.

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