Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared on ABC’s “This Week” today and came out firing against former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen.
Giuliani, who served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in the 1980s, said Sunday that prosecutors had no corroborating evidence for Cohen’s claims that the payments were meant to preserve Trump’s candidacy, and he continued to disparage the man long considered to be the president’s top loyalist.
“Pathetic. The man is pathetic,” Giuliani said. “Unless you’re God, this man, you will never know what the truth is.”
Of the SDNY office, Giuliani remarked: “I ran that office. I know what they do.”
Giuliani’s comments echoed other defenses from the president’s allies, who contend that the payments were not illegal because they were, at least in part, a private matter meant to shield Trump’s family from emotional distress.
“See what we’re talking about? It’s not a crime. It’s not a crime,” Giuliani insisted.
“It has to be for the sole purpose. If there’s another purpose, it’s no longer a campaign contribution if there‘s a personal purpose,” he said. “Now think about this — suppose he tried to use his campaign funds to pay off Stormy Daniels. It would be totally illegal. If it’s not a campaign expense, it can’t be a campaign contribution. These are not campaign contributions.”
“I can produce an enormous number of witnesses,” the former New York mayor told journalist George Stephanopoulos, adding: “I can produce 20 witnesses to tell you what he was concerned about.” Giuliani is making the case that Trump was more concerned about the impact of the affairs on his family than their impact on his election chances.
Well, that’s his story and he’s sticking to it. At least it’s somewhat plausible. The case of former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards is instructive. Edwards, who had a baby by a mistress while his wife was dying of cancer, was charged with several felony counts relating to violations of campaign finance laws.
Edwards had orchestrated payments from wealthy donors of $1 million to his girlfriend who’d had a baby — while Edwards wife was dying of cancer. Not content to let Edwards’ derailed career be his punishment, federal prosecutors charged him with six felony counts. A jury acquitted him of one count and deadlocked on the others, with most jurors favoring acquittal.
Prosecutors had asserted that Edwards violated a “very simple” campaign law limiting donations to $2,300 per person. But even though the woman was on Edwards’ campaign staff, the money she was paid was not used for political ads, funding polls, or hiring campaign staff, which is what the law is really regulating. “The jury saw right through it,” campaign finance expert Ken Gross told reporters.
Tellingly, the FEC had not ruled that Edwards’ expenditures violated the law. Under the precedent set in Cohen’s case, a candidate who got his teeth fixed, or had lap band surgery, or settled a lawsuit for Trump University – that is, anything that might help a campaign — is now committing a felony unless it’s reported publicly.
Trump is probably going to be impeached basically for lying about sex. He paid women money to keep quiet about extramarital affairs. New York prosecutors want to criminalize those payments by asserting that they were made to benefit the Trump campaign for president. Even if they were, why charge Trump with a felony? Obama campaign violations were just as egregious and he and his campaign got off with a slap on the wrist from the FEC.
Cohen’s credibility and character will now come under merciless attack by Trump and his allies. And Special Counsel Mueller will be waiting in the wings, ready to spring his own surprises that are sure to get Democrats’ pulses quickening.
The circus is coming to town next year and it promises to be the greatest show on earth.