Earlier this week, Donald Trump's loose-lipped lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, made it clear that the president reimbursed his fixer, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 Cohen paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her pre-election silence about an alleged affair with Trump.
The money in question, Giuliani told the New York Times, was paid by Trump to Cohen on an installment plan. "Some time after the campaign is over," Giuliani said, "they set up a reimbursement, $35,000 a month, out of his personal family account."
On Friday afternoon, Giuliani released a statement insisting the settlement, initially paid to Daniels by Cohen through a shadowy Delaware LLC, was "made to resolve a personal and false allegation to protect the President's family," adding: "It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not." As a legal matter, Giuliani is seeking to counter the claim that Cohen's payoff to Daniels was a violation of campaign finance law.
But Giuliani's dubious damage-control campaign continues to raise more questions than it puts to rest.
In interviews this week, the president's lawyer also revealed that Cohen was compensated for far more than the Daniels debt – up to $470,000. This disclosure demands an answer: What else is hidden in the $340,000 difference between the Daniels settlement and Cohen's take?
One thing America has come to understand about our billionaire president: He's a tightwad. Trump is notorious for not paying his bills. Even his charity is structured to spend other people's money. He's not the kind of man to throw a $340,000 tip on top a $130,000 bill.
In his now-infamous Wednesday night interview with Sean Hannity, Giuliani said that Trump's payment to Cohen reflected "a little profit and a little margin for paying taxes for Michael," clarifying that Cohen "was doing no work for the president" to earn the monthly payment. To the Times, Giuliani characterized the excess cash as covering "incidental expenses" that Cohen had racked up in service to Trump.
But there's nothing incidental about $340,000. Even if the president had paid Cohen $80,000 for his trouble, that would have left a quarter-million in the pot. So what was this money for? As yet undisclosed payouts to other women? Pricey fixes for other political messes? A payout to Cohen directly for his discretion?
A call to Giuliani seeking answers about Cohen's payoff not immediately returned. We'll update if we hear back.