SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — President Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, came out swinging Sunday as he defended “hush money” payments to two women weeks before the November 2016 election.
Calling the President’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, “pathetic” and “a liar,” he denied Cohen’s claims that the President paid off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal so he could get elected.
The women each allege they had an affair with the Donald Trump while he was married to the First Lady Melania Trump, but years before the election. Each was paid to keep quiet. Legally, if the election was part of the reason they were paid, the amount would need to be reported to the Federal Elections Commission.
On Sunday, Giuliani told George Stephanopolous on ABC’s This Week, the reason for the payoffs was family.
“I can produce an enormous number of witnesses that say the President was concerned about how it would affect his children, his marriage,” he said.
According to Giuliani, paying hush money to a mistress is legal.
“Paying $130,000 to Stormy whatever and paying 150 to the other one is not a crime,” he said. “The Edwards case determined that. She was paid a million one to be a no-show in his campaign.”
In 2011, John Edwards was charged with criminal violations of campaign finance laws after it was discovered that one of his supporters made a series of payments to Edwards’ mistress and mother of a child born out of wedlock, Rielle Hunter.
Totaling $725,000, the checks were dated between June 7, 2007 and January 23, 2008. According to the feds, between December 2007 and January 2008, another supporter paid nearly $200,000 for Hunter’s living expenses and to hide her from the public.
Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and on March 22, 2007, the couple announced that it had returned. Elizabeth Edwards died in 2010.
Edwards argued that the cover-up was not related to his candidacy for President. “Like most men in his situation, he naturally wanted to shield his extramarital affair from public view to avoid hurting his wife and children and to protect his reputation.”
Federal Judge Catherine C. Eagles rejected the notion that a desire to protect one’s family crowds out all other motives. “The government does not have to prove that the sole or only purpose of the money was to influence the election,” she told the Edwards jury. “People rarely act with a single purpose in mind.”
She continued by saying, “if the donor would have made the gift or payment notwithstanding the election, it does not become a contribution merely because the gift or payment might have some impact on the election.”
(The jury went on to find Edwards “not guilty” on one count and deadlocked on the other five counts.)
The lesson from the Edwards case seems to be: if Donald Trump was not running for President, would the payments to Daniels and McDougal have been made?
Michael Cohen appears to be saying no. As the person who arranged the payments, he recently described the President’s state of mind at the time. “You have to remember at what point in time that this matter came about, two weeks or so before the election. Post-Billy Bush comments. So yes, he was very concerned about how this would affect the election.”
Even though Cohen seems ready to give damaging testimony about the intent of the payments, as a man recently sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations (helping with the payments), he’s not an ideal witness.
“This guy has so little credibility, even the prosecutors cannot accept his stories as being authentic,” former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown told KPIX.
Brown said that even if the President did direct the payoffs so he could get elected, “Paying somebody not to talk in a political campaign? Are you kidding me? That’s not much of a crime.”