Rudy Giuliani’s tour-de-farce reached a new low point yesterday when the President essentially threw him under the bus, saying Rudy didn’t have all his facts straight, forcing Giuliani to issue a “clarification” which actually did no such thing.
Reporting indicates that this whole show was cooked up between Trump and Giuliani on their own. It is clear that the raid on Cohen has made Trump even more unhinged than ever. It also seems apparent that Trump fears that Cohen will flip but, at the same time, his own self-defense mechanism is so strong that he can hardly resist disowning Cohen as he has done with so many others. Perhaps Trump thought he was being clever by saying that Cohen only did a very small amount of legal work for Trump and was more of a businessman in his own right. But it must have gotten back to Trump that Cohen did not find those words particularly helpful or reassuring.
So along came Rudy, and he conspired with Trump to create this crazy story about Cohen paying off Daniels as part of his ongoing work for Trump and being reimbursed by Trump for that payment through these ongoing “retainers”. The point of this whole story was to help Cohen avoid a felony campaign finance charge for breaching the personal contribution limit. In addition, this scenario allows Trump to say he actually made the payment but provides just enough distance from the whole process to allow for Trump’s denials as well as only exposing Trump to a lesser regulatory campaign violation that probably won’t even be pursued. It was a beautiful story that managed to minimize the damage to both Cohen and Trump while allowing Giuliani and Trump to spin some details that they knew would emerge anyway during the Cohen investigation. So much winning!
The problem, of course, was that their story raised a host of other legal and reporting issues for Trump and forced Trump to admit he did pay off Daniels, something he has denied since the story broke. That admission set off a media firestorm about the brazen mendacity of the President and the White House communications team as well as raising the question of what other work Cohen might have done for the President. In addition, according to Daniels current lawyer Michael Avenotti, there is plenty of evidence to show that Cohen was focused on getting this hush money deal completed before the election, basically undercutting the whole “protecting his family” defense offered by Giuliani. Needless to say, Daniels’ attorney at that time would have also been very interested in that election deadline because her leverage significantly decreased at that point.
Giuliani’s other admission, that Trump fired Comey because the FBI Director would not tell the American people that the President was not a target, was probably hardly thought out at all. Besides contradicting what the President told Lester Holt as well as backing up what that “pathological liar” Comey had written in his contemporaneous memos, Rudy’s admission actually provided further evidence of the President’s corrupt intent in firing Comey. But Giuliani probably didn’t even consider this an issue as he comes from the Fox News legal camp that believes the President’s Article II powers are unfettered and that Trump accordingly had the right to fire Comey for any reason he wanted, regardless. Giuliani’s explanation just gave him a chance to mention Hillary, claiming that Comey had provided the very assurance that Trump was seeking to Clinton, namely that she was not a target, which I’m sure Rudy thought very clever.
Of course, now that the proverbial has hit the fan, Trump is cutting Rudy loose as fast as he can. Giuliani will probably be gone in Trump’s favorite time period, “a couple of weeks”. In addition, the other important thing to remember is that this whole scenario was just a story concocted by two grumpy old men, Trump and Giuliani, who clearly have lost a little touch with reality but have no doubt about their own extraordinary abilities. The idea that what Giuliani presented amounted to “facts” is highly suspect. Trump does not know what facts are. At this point, he only knows the stories he tells himself and those will always change depending on the circumstances. And, right on cue, we found out last night from the NY Times that Trump was aware of the Daniels’ payment long before his denial on Air Force One, further decimating another one of Giuliani’s “facts”.
As Michael Cohen himself said in response to Rudy’s comments, Giuliani “doesn’t know what he’s talking about”. Cohen added, “there’s two people that know exactly what happened, myself and the President and you’ll be hearing my side of the story”. And we all know the President will never truthfully represent his side. It will just be another made-up story.
Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on May 5, 2018.