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
Biden Expected To Repeal Military Trans Ban Tomorrow
The Biden administration is expected to repeal the ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military, multiple people informed of the decision told CBS News. The announcement is expected as soon as Monday, one senior Defense official and four outside advocates of repealing the ban told CBS News.
The senior Defense official told CBS News the repeal will be through executive order signed by President Joe Biden. The announcement is expected to take place at a ceremony with newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who will order the Pentagon to go back to the policy enacted in 2016 by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter that allowed transgender Americans to serve openly.
The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
The new order will direct the branches of the military to outline an implementation plan.
The ban was announced by former President Trump via a tweet in July 2017. The ban took effect in April 2019 and barred transgender Americans from enlisting in the military.
In 2014, it was estimated there were around 15,500 transgender military members serving, according to a study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
Biden frequently repeated on the campaign trail his promise to repeal the ban.
Austin said at his Senate confirmation hearing last week that he planned to repeal the ban.
“I support the president’s plan or plan to overturn the ban,” Austin said on Tuesday when asked by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, “I truly believe, Senator, that as I said in my opening statement, that if you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve. And, you can expect that I will support that throughout.”
Trump Pardons Steve Bannon In One of His Final Acts As 45th President
(CNN)— President Donald Trump has decided to pardon his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, in a last-minute decision made only hours before he is scheduled to depart the White House for a final time.
Officials cautioned CNN that Trump’s decision was not final until he signed the paperwork. Trump told people that after much deliberation, he had decided to pardon Bannon as one of his final acts in office.
Bannon’s pardon would follow a frantic scramble during the President’s final hours in office as attorneys and top aides debated his inclusion on Trump’s outgoing clemency list. Despite their falling out in recent years, Trump was eager to pardon his former aide after recently reconnecting with him as he helped fan Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election.
It was a far cry from when Trump exiled Bannon from his inner circle after he was quoted in a book trashing the President’s children, claiming that Donald Trump Jr. had been “treasonous” by meeting with a Russian attorney and labeling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” Those statements from Bannon drove Trump to issue a lengthy statement saying he had “lost his mind.”
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said at the time.Things shifted in recent months as Bannon attempted to breach Trump’s inner circle once again by offering advice before the election and pushing his false theories after Trump had lost.
Since Trump’s election defeat, the President has leaned further into his expansive pardon powers — granting pardons to his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, longtime ally Roger Stone and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, among others.
Among Trump’s pardons earlier in his term were those for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza and financier Michael Milken.
California Governor Formally Appoints Alex Padilla To Fill US Senate Seat Vacated By Kamala Harris
(CNN) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom formally submitted the appointment of Alex Padilla to the US Senate today, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
Padilla formally resigned as Secretary of State this morning and Gov. Newsom also submitted his nomination letter for Assembly member Shirley Weber to replace him. The Deputy Secretary of State, James Schwab, will be the Acting Secretary of State.
“It is fitting that on the same day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a civil rights icon who fought for justice and representation — we also move forward the appointment of California’s first Latino U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the nomination of Dr. Shirley Weber who will serve as the first-ever African American Secretary of State. Both will be strong defenders of our democracy during this fragile moment in our nation’s history,” said Gov. Newsom.
“I am humbled and honored by your trust in me to represent California in the United States Senate. I look forward to continuing to serve the great State of California as a United States Senator and to ensuring that the rights and democratic principles we cherish are protected and preserved for all people,” Padilla wrote in a letter to Gov. Newsom.
Some context: Earlier today, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris formally resigned her seat as one of California’s US Senators. She’ll be inaugurated as vice president on Wednesday, Jan. 20. In a farewell addressed posted to Twitter, Harris said, “Of course, I’m not saying goodbye. In many ways, I’m now saying hello as your vice president.”