WASHINGTON — After President Donald Trump on Friday morning said his new lawyer Rudy Giuliani would “get his facts straight,” Giuliani said the $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels would have been made whether or not Trump was running for office.
Giuliani, the former New York mayor who joined Trump’s legal team last week, issued a statement Friday afternoon declaring there was no campaign violation, in an attempt to clarify statements he made in interviews the previous two days — statements that Trump later disputed.
On Thursday, Giuliani linked the payment by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, to the 2016 election, raising the possibility of a campaign finance law violation. The money was meant to buy the actress’ silence about her claim of a tryst with Trump.
On Friday, Giuliani made his statement in writing. “There is no campaign violation,” he said. “The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the President’s family. It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not.”
Giuliani also sought to back away from his statement that Trump had general knowledge of Cohen’s payment – a statement that contradicted Trump’s denial in April that he knew anything about the arrangement - and had reimbursed Cohen through his monthly $35,000 retainer.
“These are my views,” Giuliani said. “My references to timing were not describing my understanding of the President’s knowledge, but instead, my understanding of these matters.”
Trump, who on Thursday tweeted a version of Giuliani’s revelation of the Cohen reimbursement, on Friday raised doubts about what Giuliani had said.
“When Rudy made the statements — Rudy is great — but Rudy had just started, and he wasn’t totally familiar with everything,” Trump said as he spoke to reporters Friday morning before flying to Dallas to address the National Rifle Association convention.
“He’s learning the subject matter,” Trump said. “He started yesterday. He’ll get his facts straight.”
Trump also said there had been “a lot of misinformation,” adding, “And I say, ‘You know what? Learn before you speak. It’s a lot easier.’”
Separately, Trump said he would love to talk to special counsel Robert Mueller and his team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, and would override his lawyers’ objections to such a meeting “if I thought it was fair.”
“Bottom line is I want to talk to the people in charge if they can prove it’s a fair situation,” Trump said. “The problem we have is that you have 13 people, and they’re all Democrats, and they’re real Democrats, they’re angry Democrats, and that’s not a fair situation.”
He also said Mueller worked for President Barack Obama for eight years, but Congress extended his post as FBI director for five years under Obama. The special counsel’s office said nine lawyers made campaign donations of $62,043 to Democrats and $2,750 to Republicans.
On his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump said, “We’ve actually worked out a time and a place that will be announced very shortly.”
And Trump said he was still working on the return of three Americans being held by North Korea. “We’re doing very well with the hostages. We are in constant contact with the leadership. We are in constant contact with North Korea,” he said.
In Dallas, Trump reassured staunch gun rights supporters that he would protect the second amendment. “Your second amendment rights are under siege, but they will never ever be under siege as long as I’m your president,” he said.
He praised the NRA and skirted the proposals for gun control he made in a televised meeting with lawmakers after the Parkland, Florida, high school shootings. It was his first address to the potent national gun lobby since a gunman used an AR15 assault-style weapon to kill 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman High School in south Florida, after which surviving students began an anti-NRA crusade aimed at the midterm elections. Trump told the NRA that he favored arming teachers.
The president, who has been under fire by some gun rights activists for allowing gun control measures to pass, only mentioned briefly his administration was working to improve the early warning system to keep firearms out of the wrong hands, and the new law to improve the FBI background check system. He did not mention his proposed rule to ban bump stocks.
But he sought to charge up a reliable voting bloc for the Nov. 6 election.
“Before I left today, a couple people came up to me, very good political people, they said: ‘You know going to the NRA convention and speaking to them, that will be very controversial, it might not be popular,’” Trump told the crowd. “You know what I said, ‘Bye bye, got to get on the plane.’ Because we have to do the right thing.’”