WASHINGTON — Seeking to clear up confusion generated by President Trump and attorney Rudy Giuliani about a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, Giuliani issued a statement Friday saying he made mistakes regarding the timeline — but not specifying exactly what they were.
In a statement to the press, Giuliani mostly reiterated points he's made over the past two days: Trump did not violate campaign finance laws by paying hush money to Daniels, and former FBI director James Comey deserved to be fired.
But the statements did little to clear up the sequence of events that led a lawyer for Trump to sign a non-disclosure agreement with Daniels days before the 2016 election — and Trump's own contradictory statements about what he knew about it.
Giuliani's statement had three parts:
► "There is no campaign violation. The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the president’s family. It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not."
This statement appears to clean up Giuliani's statement on Fox News Wednesday that suggested a political motive. “Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton?” he said. “Cohen made it go away,”
► "My references to timing were not describing my understanding of the President’s knowledge, but instead, my understanding of these matters."
Giuliani seemed to be saying that he did not know when the president first found out about the settlement. "He did know about the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this," Giuliani told Fox News on Wednesday.
► "It is undisputed that the President’s dismissal of former Director Comey – an inferior executive officer – was clearly within his Article II power. Recent revelations about former Director Comey further confirm the wisdom of the President’s decision, which was plainly in the best interests of our nation."
Giuliani had previously said that Trump fired Comey because he would not publicly clear Trump in the Russia investigation.
The statement came just hours after Trump rebuked Giuliani, telling reporters the new attorney and former New York City mayor needs to get his stories straight.
"Rudy is a great guy, but he started a day ago,” Trump told reporters at the White House. "He’ll get his facts straight.”
Trump said Giuliani would provide a timeline on the Daniels payment, but the attorney issued only a statement with three items on it.
Back in April, Trump himself told reporters he knew nothing about a $130,000 payment to Daniels, and suggested that reporters ask Cohen.
This week, Trump acknowledged reimbursing Cohen for the money after Giuliani publicly disclosed the matter.
In a series of media appearances, Giuliani offered a somewhat confusing explanation the hush money payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Giuliani has also talked about negotiations with Mueller over possible presidential testimony in the Russia case.
Giuliani is "learning the subject matter, and he’s going to be issuing a statement, too, but he is a great guy," Trump said. "He knows it’s a witch hunt, too."
Trump and Giuliani have described the various investigations of the administration as distractions from important issues, such as North Korea, Iran, and the economy.
Campaign finance groups said the $130,000 payment, made less than two weeks before the 2016 election, amounted to an in-kind campaign contribution, and should have been reported as such.
The organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics has filed a complaint with the Department of Justice and the Office of Government Ethics asking them to investigate whether Giuliani’s disclosures show that Trump violated federal ethics laws or laws against making false statements in not reporting the payment.