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Trump Responds To Giuliani Interview On Fox News


President Trump is speaking out this morning about a payment to an adult film actress made by his attorney, Michael Cohen. The payments to Stormy Daniels were part of a nondisclosure agreement, and the president acknowledged on Twitter that Michael Cohen was reimbursed as part of his regular monthly retainer. That is important because there have been legal concerns raised over the prospect of campaign money being used to pay Daniels. Rudy Giuliani told "Fox & Friends" this morning that it was clear to him that the reimbursement had nothing to do with the campaign.


RUDY GIULIANI: If we had to defend this as not being a campaign contribution, I think we could do that. This was for personal reasons. This was - the president had been hurt personally, not politically, personally so much, and the first lady by some of the false allegations - that one more false allegation 6 years old. I think he was trying to help the family. And for that, the man is being treated like some kind of villain.

MARTIN: We're joined now by NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe. Ayesha, so we've got Rudy Giuliani confirming that the president has made this reimbursement to Michael Cohen, $130,000, and now the president this morning basically acknowledging as much but trying to clarify. What did he say?

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Well, the president said in a series of tweets that his attorney had received a monthly retainer, that it did not come from the campaign and that this retainer was used to reimburse him for this nondisclosure agreement and settlement that was reached with Stormy Daniels. So he's clarifying that the reimbursement did happen, and this was a big question, whether Mike Cohen had been paid back for the $130,000 payment. And so this answers that question.

MARTIN: But this is all about, as Rudy Giuliani knows, whether or not this was a violation of campaign finance rules. And we heard him in that earlier clip say, hey, if we were forced to make this case, we can do it. We can argue that this was for personal reasons, that this was a false allegation and this payment was made just to protect the family. But we should point out that in the same interview with "Fox & Friends," Rudy Giuliani says as follows, and I'm going to quote here - "imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of, you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton." He goes on to say, Cohen didn't even ask, Cohen made it go away. He did his job. So is Donald Trump - is President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, trying to have it both ways here, saying it's personal, it's not about politics, but it's politics, it's not personal?

RASCOE: Well, this is likely an argument that may have to be hashed out in court. There are - there's a legal case going on regarding this payment, and that is the question that they're going to have to answer. Was this a political contribution? Was this made - was this payment made to affect the campaign? If this had come out during the last debate, could this have had an impact on the campaign? And was that what they were thinking when they paid Stormy Daniels for this kind of six-year-old - this 6-year-old allegation?

MARTIN: And also we should say President Trump still denies that this affair even happened, and he did - has maintained previous to this that he knew nothing about any such payment, which stands in contrast to what he's saying today.

RASCOE: Yes. It's definitely a change from what he had said earlier, although it's still not clear exactly what he knew and when he knew it.

MARTIN: NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe for us this morning. Thanks so much, Ayesha.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.