Donald Trump would have had attorney Michael Cohen make payments to women other than Stormy Daniels if “necessary”, the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday as the White House sought without success to impose order on an increasingly chaotic and damaging scandal.
In response, Daniels’ lawyer said Giuliani and Trump had “lost track of the truth” and were undermining their own attempted “coverup”.
Daniels, an actor in adult films, claims to have had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006, a claim Trump has denied. Cohen paid Daniels 0,000 in October 2016, shortly before the presidential election, as part of a non-disclosure agreement. Daniels is suing Trump and Cohen to be released from the agreement and for defamation.
In April, Trump told a reporter on Air Force One he had no knowledge of the payment to Daniels. But this week, on Fox News, Giuliani said the president in fact did know of the deal and had reimbursed Cohen. Trump did not contradict Giuliani in three Thursday morning tweets, but then said on Friday Giuliani had not had time to “get his facts straight”.
On Sunday Giuliani told ABC’s This Week he was “not really involved in the Daniels thing” and added, when confronted with inconsistencies between his statements and Trump’s: “Right now I’m at the point where I’m learning.”
As part of that learning process, Giuliani may have read reports by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Citing anonymous sources, the Times reported on Friday that Trump knew about the payment “several months” before he spoke on Air Force One. The Journal, meanwhile, said public records showed Cohen “gained access to as much as 4,000 … during the 2016 presidential campaign as he sought to fix problems for his boss”.
Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told the Guardian in an interview he thought there could well be “multiple” other women with similar issues to his client.
On ABC, Giuliani said he had “no knowledge” of any other payments to women, “but I would think if it was necessary, yes. [Cohen] made payments for the president, or he conducted business for the president, which means he had legal fees, monies laid out and expenditures which I have on my bills to my clients”.
On CNN’s State of the Union, the White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway attempted to explain Trump’s Air Force One remarks by saying she was “relaying what the president has told me” .
“When the president said no on Air Force One,” she said, “he was talking about he didn’t know when the payment occurred. It was a very fast-moving exchange … and so he’s saying he didn’t know about it when the payment occurred, he found out about it after the fact.”
Any payments to women, Conway added in a characteristically combative and confusing interview, “did not cross my desk as campaign manager”.
Cohen’s New York home, office and hotel room were raided by FBI agents last month, on a tip-off from the special counsel Robert Mueller and with documentation about the Daniels payment reportedly among material seized. Giuliani said on Sunday Cohen would cooperate with investigators because he “doesn’t have any incriminating evidence about the president”.
A presidential pardon for Cohen was “not on the table”, Giuliani added. “That isn’t a decision to be made now. There’s no reason to pardon anybody now … It has not been discussed.”
Avenatti also spoke to ABC, calling Giuliani’s interview “an absolute, unmitigated disaster for Rudy Giuliani and the president, a train wreck”.
“I can’t believe that actually just happened,” he said. “I mean, what we witnessed by Rudy Giuliani may be one of the worst TV appearances by an attorney on behalf of a client in modern times.”
He added: “I think it is obvious to the American people that this is a cover-up; that they are making it up as they go along. They don’t know what to say because they have lost track of the truth.”
In his interview with the Guardian, Avenatti paraphrased a famous question from the Watergate hearings when he said he was searching “for the truth about what the president knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it”.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
U.S. Set To Announce New Sanctions On Six Individuals Linked To Hong Kong Mass Arrests
WASHINGTON, Jan 15 (Reuters) – The United States is set to announce fresh sanctions on Friday on six individuals connected to the mass arrests earlier this month of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, two sources familiar with the matter said.
Hong Kong police on Jan. 5 arrested 53 people in dawn raids on democracy activists in the biggest crackdown since China last year imposed a security law which opponents say is aimed at quashing dissent in the former British colony.
U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo last week warned of fresh sanctions in response to the arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. That warning came a day after supporters of Republican President Donald Trump on Jan. 6 stormed Congress in a bid to overturn his November election defeat, prompting China’s state media to accuse U.S. politicians of “double standards.”
Pompeo also said last week the United States would also explore restrictions against the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in the United States.
Action on Friday would come just days before Trump is due to leave office and be succeeded by Democrat Joe Biden next Wednesday and would be the latest in a series targeting China, which analysts see as a bid driven by Pompeo to lock in a tough approach to Beijing.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump has pursued hard-line policies toward China on issues ranging from trade to espionage and the coronavirus. Relations plummeted to their worst level in decades when he ramped up rhetoric in his unsuccessful November re-election campaign.
His administration has already imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for their actions involving the pro-democracy movement and other alleged rights abuses, and last July declared an end to the territory’s privileged economic status under U.S. law.
The Trump administration took another swipe at China and its biggest companies on Thursday, imposing sanctions on officials and companies for alleged misdeeds in the South China Sea and imposing an investment ban on nine more firms.
Last Saturday, Pompeo said he was lifting restrictions on contacts between U.S. officials and counterparts in Taiwan, a move that greatly angered Beijing, which considers the island a renegade province. (Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
Louisiana Congressman-Elect Luke Letlow Dead From COVID-19
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Luke Letlow, Louisiana’s incoming Republican member of the U.S. House, died Tuesday night from complications related to COVID-19 only days before being sworn into office. He was 41.
Letlow spokesman Andrew Bautsch confirmed the congressman-elect’s death at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport.
“The family appreciates the numerous prayers and support over the past days but asks for privacy during this difficult and unexpected time,” Bautsch said in a statement. “A statement from the family along with funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.”
Louisiana’s eight-member congressional delegation called Letlow’s death devastating.
“Luke had such a positive spirit, and a tremendously bright future ahead of him. He was looking forward to serving the people of Louisiana in Congress, and we were excited to welcome him to our delegation where he was ready to make an even greater impact on our state and our nation,” they said in a statement.
The state’s newest congressman, set to take office in January, was admitted to a Monroe hospital on Dec. 19 after testing positive for the coronavirus disease. He was later transferred to the Shreveport facility and placed in intensive care.
Letlow, from the small town of Start in Richland Parish, was elected in a December runoff election for the 5th District U.S. House seat representing central and northeastern regions of the state, including the cities of Monroe and Alexandria.
He was to fill the seat being vacated by his boss, Republican Ralph Abraham. Letlow had been Abraham’s chief of staff and ran with Abraham’s backing for the job.
Gov. John Bel Edwards urged people to pray for Letlow’s family.
“COVID-19 has taken Congressman-elect Letlow from us far too soon,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “I am heartbroken that he will not be able to serve our people as a U.S. representative, but I am even more devastated for his loving family.”
Before working for Abraham, Letlow had worked for former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration. Jindal’s one-time chief of staff, Timmy Teepell, described Letlow on Twitter as “a good man with a kind heart and a passion to serve. He loved Louisiana and his family. He was a brother and I’m heart broken he’s gone.”
Letlow is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, and two children.
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican and doctor who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year and has since recovered, posted in a Twitter video: “It just, just, just, just brings home COVID can kill. For most folks it doesn’t, but it truly can. So, as you remember Luke, his widow, his children in your prayers, remember as well to be careful with COVID.”
Trump Adviser Rudy Giuliani Captured In Compromising Position With Woman He Was Told Was A Reporter In ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’
The forthcoming “Borat” sequel reportedly features Rudy Giuliani engaging in provocative behavior with a woman he’d been told was a reporter.
The adviser to President Trump appears to have unknowingly participated in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” the comedy starring Sacha Baron Cohen that is poised to be released Friday on Amazon Prime Video.
According to multiple reports, Giuliani sits down for an interview at a New York hotel with the character Tutar, Borat’s teenage daughter who’s posing as a TV journalist and was played by 24-year-old actress Maria Bakalova.
The 76-year-old former New York mayor is heard complimenting the supposed reporter and following her to a bedroom, where eventually he stretches out on the bed.
Vanity Fair describes the scene captured on hidden cameras, saying of Giuliani, “His hand is in his pants. Watching it, your brain turns into an exclamation point.”
Cohen, as Borat, then reportedly runs into the hotel room sporting a bikini and exclaiming, “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”
Giuliani did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
He told the New York Post in July that he had agreed to participate in what he believed was an interview about the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response.
“This person comes in yelling and screaming,” Giuliani said of Cohen, “and I thought this must be a scam or a shake-down, so I reported it to the police. He then ran away.”
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