By Five Dollar Feminist as originally published over at Wonkette and reposted here with permission
Let’s just acknowledge from the outset that THE EMPEROR IS WANDERING AROUND ORANGEASS NAKED. There is no strategy. No nine-dimensional chess. No secret plan to own the libs. There’s just a bunch of bumbling old fools, arrogant enough to think they can beat Robert Mueller by WINGIN’ IT!
For the record, we’re pretty sure Rudy Giuliani was just making shit up Wednesday night on Hannity. “When I saw that $35,000 retainer, I said to myself …” is not a part of any legal strategy. It’s ranting. But as usual, Trumpland spent the morning furiously shouting, WE MEANT TO SAY THAT! LUV 2 OWN THE LIBS BY CONFESSING 2 CRIMES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION!
Okay, have it your way. Let’s pretend for a minute that everything Rudy said last night and this morning was 100 percent true. FINE.
What’s that thing where you fire someone to interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation?
He fired Comey because Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn’t a target of the investigation.
And then Trump got Rod Rosenstein to dummy up a memo saying Comey was You’re Fired because he was mean to Hillary Clinton. After which he lied about it for months. Because there was no obstruction of justice and NO COLLUSION.
Three impossible things before breakfast!
We’ve fed the transcripts through Google’s Wingloon Translator app, and we think we’ve worked out Rudy’s version of the story:
In the course of his regular work at the Trump Organization, Michael Cohen took care of penny ante shit all the time. He would never bother the boss with something pissant like a pornstar payoff for less than a million dollars. So he fronted the cash to Stormy Daniels in October, and they settled up after the election. Sometime during 2017, Trump put Cohen on a $35,000/month retainer fee. And despite the fact that the WSJ broke the Daniels story on January 12, 2018, and Cohen copped to making the payments on Trump’s behalf in February, Trump only heard of it “about two weeks ago.” This was a campaign expense, but it’s cool because Trump paid it back out of his own pocket, so there’s no need for further federal investigation.
WE HAVE SOME QUESTIONS.
No consideration! No consideration! You are the no consideration!
Michael Avenatti seems hellbent on proving that Trump knew about the Daniels NDA from the jump. But if he simply wanted to invalidate the agreement, Giuliani just served it up to him on a silver platter. Daniels traded her silence for $130,000 and a promise that Trump wouldn’t sue her for talking about it before the deal was inked. Cohen couldn’t sign away Trump’s right to sue without Trump’s knowledge — he didn’t have it to give. So if Trump didn’t know about it until April (quit laughing!), the deal is likely invalid.
That’s not how campaign finance law works. Like, at all.
You want to know why we’re sure Giuliani was winging it? Because Jay Sekulow runs a “charitable foundation” that tiptoes right up to the limits of the law to line his own pockets. (It is really something.) There is no goddamn way he signed off on Rudy Giuliani telling the Washington Post,
Well, the original payment from Cohen was sometime right before the election. The repayments took place over a period of time, probably in 2017, probably all paid back by the end of 2017. That and probably a few other situations that might have been considered campaign expenses.
Here’s the Bald Wonder splaining to the Fox Brain Trust Thursday morning that Cohen worked to keep the story quiet during the final days of the campaign.
“Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton,” Giuliani added. “Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”
Giuliani may believe with all his heart that it’s totally kosher to give your beloved boss unlimited funds to help his presidential campaign, as long as he pays you back out of his own pocket. BUT THAT’S NOT THE LAW. As Kellyanne Conway’s husband helpfully pointed out on Twitter this morning.
AND EVEN IF IT WAS THE LAW … STILL NO!
Giuliani just admitted to massive campaign finance violations, but let’s just pretend for a minute that the $130,000 was Cohen simply advancing money for his true love, Mister Trump. As lawyers do all the time for their clients. (No, they don’t.)
Did Mister Trump declare the $130,000 debt on his financial disclosure? He did not.
And how did Cohen get paid back?
Rudy: When I heard Cohen's retainer of $35K when he's doing no work for the president, I said that's how he's repaying it. With a little profit and a little margin for paying taxes.
— Five Dollar Feminist (@5DollarFeminist) May 3, 2018
GIULIANI: That money was not campaign money. Sorry, I’m giving you a fact now that you don’t know. […]
HANNITY: They funneled it through a law firm.
GIULIANI: Funneled through a law firm, and the president repaid it.
OMG, he actually used the word “funneled.”
When I heard Cohen’s retainer of $35K when he was doing no work for the president, I said that’s how he’s repaying it. With a little profit and a little margin for paying taxes.
Soooooo, if we’ve understood you correctly … Cohen made a loan to Trump of $130,000. Trump then disguised the repayment as legal fees, which he presumably deducted on his tax return as a business expense. (Tax fraud? Campaign finance violation?) Cohen then voluntarily agreed to take “$460 or $470” (thousand, according to Giuliani) for “legal work,” of which he paid approximately $200,000 in state and federal taxes. That left Cohen $150,000 profit (or “campaign expenses,” whatever on earth THOSE might be!) after the $130,000 payoff to Daniels. Why, that’s even enough money for a first-class ticket to Prague! And because he “was doing no work for the president” after the election, none of their conversations are privileged.
Is that really what you’re going with here, Rudy?
Was he aware that Michael incurred expenses to help him? Yes. Did he have an arrangement so that Michael knew he’d be reimbursed for it? Yes. Was the president really wise to take it out of personal funds rather than from campaign funds? Thank God he did, [or else] he’d get a campaign finance violation they’d try to drum up into a felony or something. The president is personally protected.