Washington: US President Donald Trump repaid his personal lawyer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 settlement with porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public about her affair with Trump before the 2016 election, the President's legal aide Rudy Giuliani has said.
Former New York Mayor Giuliani's statement on Fox News on Wednesday appeared to contradict Trump, who said he did not know about the payment made by Cohen to Daniels ahead of the presidential election, the New York Times reported.
Trump has denied Daniels' claims of an affair in 2006. Giuliani said no campaign finance was used in the payment.
Cohen's $130,000 payment to Daniels just before the election could count as an illegal contribution to President Trump's campaign. However, Giuliani said that when the initial payment was made, Cohen did it "on his own authority".
Giuliani said: "That money was not campaign money. Sorry, I'm giving you a fact now that you don't know. It's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation."
Giuliani's comments are also in direct contrast to what Cohen had been saying for months, that he used his own money to pay Daniels.
Cohen is under investigation by the FBI, which raided his home and office in April and seized documents that included information about the payment made to Daniels.
"They funnelled it through a law firm and the President repaid it." Giuliani said the repayment was made "over a period of several months".
He added that Trump "didn't know about the specifics of it, as far as I know, but he did know about the general arrangement that Cohen would take care of things like this".
Giuliani said that he had spoken with Trump before and after his interview on Fox News and that the President and other lawyers on the team were aware of what he would say.
Giuliani said that Cohen had "settled several problems for" Trump, and that the payment related to them. Another person familiar with the payment confirmed that that was the mechanism used to repay Cohen.
Michael Avenatti, Daniels' lawyer, said on Twitter that Giuliani's comments amounted to an admission that the President had lied to the American people about whether he was aware of the hush payment.
"Trump stood on AF1 and blatantly lied," Avenatti wrote. "This followed the lies told by others close to him, including Cohen. This should never be acceptable in our America. We will not rest until justice is served." IANS