As analyses pour in from legal experts across the country, one thing has become clear: Giuliani’s attempt at damage control might have caused at least as much damage as it spared.
Giuliani made statements that speak to Trump and lawyer Michael Cohen’s intent — an important aspect of some crimes — and he made assertions that investigators can now check against what they have already learned from documents and witnesses, legal analysts said. His comments to media outlets underscore a growing tension for the White House: The FBI investigation of Cohen presents a legal problem for the president that his own lawyer might have exacerbated.
[Giuliani] might have been trying to get ahead of investigators in making public facts they already know, though legal analysts said his statements could reinforce any case they might bring.
What were Giuliani’s most problematic statements?
On the Stormy Daniels payment:
“Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton. Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”
That comment is important because it suggests Cohen made the payment with the intention of protecting the Trump campaign. In that case, the payment would constitute a campaign contribution or loan — rather than a personal expense. Such a contribution would have to be reported publicly, and the amount would have far exceeded the legal limit of $2,700 that Cohen could have given.
Considering that the Daniel’s payment is not the sole transaction investigators are looking into, Giuliani’s statements could point to a pattern of behavior whereby Cohen paid hush money to make potentially damaging stories “go away” during Trump’s campaign.
Also under scrutiny is a $150,000 payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also claims to have had an affair with Trump, by the National Enquirer’s parent company A.M.I..
On the firing of James Comey:
“He fired Comey because Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn’t a target of the investigation. He’s entitled to that. Hillary Clinton got that and he couldn’t get that. So he fired him and he said, ‘I’m free of this guy.’”
While special counsel Robert Mueller is not a party to the Cohen investigation beyond his referral to New York prosecutors, his investigation into Russian election interference includes probing whether Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey constitutes an obstruction of justice.
“I think even asking him to publicly exonerate him does interfere with the investigation and could constitute obstruction of justice,” [Barbara McQuade, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches at the University of Michigan] said.