Let’s start with yesterday afternoon, when Giuliani did a little clean-up on aisle five. Trump’s most visible attorney was back on the air on Wednesday to “clarify” what he said the previous two days by throwing over them a blanket claim of ignorance.
President Donald Trump only recently found out that he reimbursed his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 nondisclosure agreement with adult performer Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 election, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani claimed Thursday. …
“I don’t think the president realized he paid him (Cohen) back for that specific thing until we (his legal team) made him aware of the paperwork,” he said.
Giuliani said the president responded, “‘Oh my goodness, I guess that’s what it was for.’”
Which, of course, is a reversal of Giuliani’s claims earlier that Trump was aware that Cohen was being paid back for the Daniels payments, and that Trump had in fact designed the $35,000 a month payments to Cohen for “doing no work” as a means of both paying Cohen back and providing him “a little profit.”
To believe this story first requires that genuine people come away thinking that Donald Trump has ever started any sentence in his life with “Oh my goodness” rather than something … more visceral.
It also requires belief that Trump tossed Michael Cohen over three quarters of a million—$470,000 from the Trump organization and $288,000 from Trump’s campaign—without having a clue why he was paying someone more money than most Americans see in their whole lives. Donald Trump’s entire legal strategy has come down to sending out a spokesman to spread a message of “I am ignorant of my own company’s activities, sloppy about cleaning up my own messes, and incredibly careless with my money. So it’s all good.” Probably not the best thing for a president who said he will run America like he will run his business.
Meanwhile, we have a window into Cohen’s reaction to all this.
MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch dropped a bombshell on Morning Joe Friday, stating that said President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen told him Rudy Giuliani “doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
That stunning remark comes after Giuliani appeared for a series of bombshell interviews on Fox News and declared that Cohen was repaid by the president for his $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.
Those remarks ran counter to statements Trump has made before regarding the affair, claiming he did not know about the payments.
Giuliani’s comments were an effort to defend Cohen against charges his payment to Daniels violated campaign finance laws, though it’s not clear he cleaned anything up for the president’s fixer.
“The Giuliani thing is interesting,” Deutsch said. “We forget how during the campaign, Giuliani was unhinged. I mean if you showed clips of him during the campaign, there was a reason he didn’t get hired for all the jobs that he wanted to.”
“I spoke with Michael Cohen yesterday, and his remark about Giuliani, was that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Deutsch said. “He also said look, there are two people that know exactly what happened. And that’s myself and the president. And you’ll be hearing my side of the story.”
“And he was obviously very frustrated with what had come out yesterday,” Deutsch added.
Later on Morning Joe, law professor Jonathan Turleysaid Cohen’s comments about Giuliani are “chilling.”
“If I was counsel for the president, that indicates that they are now on separate scripts. And if they’re on separate scripts, they could be on separate tracks. Cohen at the end of the day is going to be a rational actor. If he doesn’t see much of a benefit of sticking with the Trump team he’s going to look elsewhere — and there’s only one place to look.”
Here’s what I think happened:
(1) Trump lied to Rudy about Cohen (i.e, the timing of payments, his knowledge of the reimbursement, etc).
(2) Rudy, being a Trump acolyte and bad lawyer, took his client’s word and did no independent investigation to verify what Trump told him
(3) Rudy devises strategy to get the whole thing behind them
(4) Rudy executes strategy badly
(5) Hilarity ensues
And as I write this, Trump is talking impromptu to reporters on the tarmac — saying his new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is “a great guy” and “he’ll get his facts straight.”
Trump says Rudy Giuliani just started and “he’ll get his facts straight” pic.twitter.com/Mxju5SfwEY
— David Taintor (@davidtaint) May 4, 2018
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) May 4, 2018
Trump saying that the problem is that “they” are “thirteen Democrats” is, well, not true, but more importantly, not the legal argument he wants. It won’t fly.
RELATED — Uh oh. He’s beginning to lose some Fox News stalwarts
Wow, this monologue going after Trump from Fox News host Neil Cavuto is remarkable: "Let me be clear, Mr. President. How can you drain the swamp if you're the one that keeps muddying the waters? … That's your stink, Mr. President. That's your swamp." pic.twitter.com/ZxzU3w3C32
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 4, 2018
Spent last night flipping back and forth between MSNBC & the alternative facts world of Fox and thought there’s no hope. Then after listening to Neil Cavuto, I thought, like the rose in Spanish Harlem, the truth just might be pushing up through the concrete.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) May 4, 2018
WATCH: President Trump denies he once told reporters he didn't know about the Stormy Daniels payment.
"You take a look at what I said … You go take a look at what we said." pic.twitter.com/MNFgs1CRO5
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) May 4, 2018