Thursday, May 03, 2018


On Sean Hannity's show last night, new Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said something it appeared he shouldn't have said:
In one of his first interviews since joining Mr. Trump’s legal team, Mr. Giuliani appeared to briefly stun Sean Hannity of Fox News on Wednesday night by asserting that the president had reimbursed his personal lawyer for a $130,000 hush payment to a pornographic film actress — contradicting his client, the president.

“I want to clarify something,” Mr. Hannity said, offering a do-over to Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, failed presidential candidate and longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s. Instead of taking a mulligan, Mr. Giuliani repeated the assertion.
This seemed like a gaffe -- but Giuliani also spoke to The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and even BuzzFeed, and he continued to say the same thing about the payment. He also said that the president wasn't angry with him for the revelation, an assertion that was confirmed by a series of Trump tweets this morning that echoed Giuliani's assertions.

As Giuliani repeated the Trump team's new story -- that Trump paid Michael Cohen a monthly retainer, that Cohen paid off Stormy Daniels himself but was made whole by means of that retainer, that Trump didn't know what Cohen was doing but paid him anyway out of personal (not campaign) funds -- I began to feel a bit sorry for someone unrelated to this mess:

Mitt Romney.

Here's Giuliani talking to The Washington Post's Robert Costa:
Costa: How many payments did it take for the president to settle up with Cohen?

Giuliani: Do the arithmetic, right? $35,000 a month, probably starting in January or February. By the time you get to $250,000, it’s all paid off. Remember, he also paid for the taxes. Then there probably were other things of a personal nature that Michael took care of, for which the president would have always trusted him as his lawyer, as my clients do with me. And that was paid back out of the rest of the money. And Michael earned a fee out of it....

Giuliani: ... neither one of them saw it as a campaign thing, they thought of it as a personal thing. Personal reputation, family, wife, harassment charge. She doesn’t want a lot of money? Pay her. Let her go away. Follow me? ...

Giuliani: ... If somebody made an allegation against one of my clients that wasn’t true, and accepted $135,000 to settle it, I know the public may think the settlement may mean an admission of guilt, but it’s not. People settle things all the time just to get rid of harassment. The amount of money tells me this was a harassment settlement. If you’re talking $5 or $6 million, now you’d have something different.
So, according to Giuliani, it was a mere $135,000 -- not "a lot of money." "If you’re talking $5 or $6 million, now you’d have something different" -- but $135,000? Pocket change!

In the Times, after a conversation with Giuliani, Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman wrote, "[Giuliani] added that over all, Mr. Cohen was paid $460,000 or $470,000 from Mr. Trump through those payments, which also included money for 'incidental expenses' that he had incurred on Mr. Trump’s behalf."

All to pay off a porn star whose claims of an affair with Trump are false, according to Giuliani and the president.

Remember how much grief Mitt Romney got when he proposed a $10,000 bet to Rick Perry in a debate shortly before the 2012 Iowa caucuses?
... the Democratic National Committee immediately seized upon Romney's proposed wager, tweeting lines like, "FACT: $10,000 is almost three times what the average family spends on groceries in a year."

... it's not just Democrats following that line of attack. Perry on Fox News Sunday called the bet "a little out of touch with the normal Iowa citizen." ...

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman ... went so far as to create an entire website slamming Romney for the debate moment:
Throughout the 2012 campaign, Romney was successfully attacked as an out-of-touch elitist, a man far too rich to connect with ordinary Americans. But now we have a president who's said to be the champion of those same Americans -- and his defense in the Stormy Daniels case is "Hey, of course I pay a guy a five-figure amount every month so he can pay a six-figure amount to any woman who says she's had an affair with me, even if she's lying, because that's just how these things are done."

I'm sure the deplorables don't have a problem with that at all. I'm sure this cavalier attitude toward money doesn't strike them as "elitist" in any way.

During the 2012 campaign, I argued that Romney should be boastful about his wealth, at least during primary season, because heartland voters have been trained by right-wing propaganda to love capitalism and admire business success. I think I was right. But Romney was incapable of swagger. If he'd had swagger, he might have been Trump before Trump was.

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