In the tumultuous aftermath of Rudy Giuliani’s bombshell admission during an on-air interview with Sean Hannity that Trump not only knew about but paid the $130,000 in hush money to Stormy Daniels, all eyes turned to the White House to clarify its position, given that Trump himself had previously told reporters that he had no knowledge of the payment.
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At today’s press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fielded questions from reporters and, in characteristic fashion, responded with her best non-answer.
Sanders fielded questions from both the Associated Press’s Zeke Miller and ABC News’ Jon Karl and did her best to sweep both last night’s stunning revelation as well as a broader question about trusting this White House under the rug.
“Could you explain why the president, when he spoke, when he answered the questions from reporters a few weeks ago about the $130,000 payment from Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels, why the president was not truthful with the American people and with the people in this room?” Zeke Miller asked.
“Can I ask you when the president so often says things that turn out not to be true, when the president or the White House show what appears to be a blatant disregard of the truth, how are the American people to trust or believe what is said here or what is said by the president?” Jon Karl asked.
To both questions, Sanders replied with the same rendition of, “We give the best information we have at the time. I do that every single day and will continue to do that every day under this position.”
According to The Washington Post’s Robert Costa, Trump was “very pleased” with Giuliani’s admission. Giuliani “says [he and Trump] discussed his revelation of the reimbursements long in advance. Does not expect to be fired. Insists his remarks on FNC [Fox News Channel] were approved by Trump.”
Giuliani tells me he just spoke w / POTUS. Tonight by phone. President "very pleased," Giuliani says. He says they discussed his revelation of the reimbursements long in advance. Does not expect to be fired. Insists his remarks on FNC were approved by Trump. Story TK.
— Robert Costa (@costareports) May 3, 2018
Q: The president’s not angry with you? He was aware you’d bring it up?
A: “Oh, yeah, yeah. Sure, sure. He was well-aware that at some point when I saw the opportunity, I was going to get this over with.”
Q: You spoke about this w/ him in recent days?
A: “Probably 4 or 5 days ago"
— Robert Costa (@costareports) May 3, 2018
In reality, Giuliani’s comments – that Trump and his lawyer, Michael Cohen, “funneled the [$130,000] through a law firm, and the president repaid it” – are tantamount to an admission of campaign finance law violation.
Giuliani says Trump's payment to Stormy Daniels was legal because it didn't come from campaign funds.
On Cohen, Giuliani says, "[Trump] knew he would take care of things like this — like I take care of this stuff with my clients, I don't burden them with every single thing." pic.twitter.com/ZFgjNtCbnY
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 3, 2018
Per Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer:
“I certainly hope that what Rudy Giuliani is not suggesting is, is that in fact, the reimbursement took place over several months, in an effort to avoid triggering a $10,000 monetary requirement relating to payments; namely if they structured reimbursement payments.”
“Again, I don’t have any basis that they did. But that statement causes me grave concern. If they structured reimbursements in amounts less of than $10,000 in an effort to potentially avoid detection; that’s a serious, serious problem.”
“That’s called structuring. It’s a violation of federal law. It’s a criminal act…”
“It doesn’t make any sense why this reimbursement took place over several months, it doesn’t make any sense unless they were trying to avoid detection.”
Despite Sanders’ rosy spin, the American people have no reason to believe a White House that lies – sloppily – on a constant basis. After promises of the “best people,” the “best words,” and now, the “best information,” Americans have good reason to believe that this administration’s definition of “best” is not the same as everyone else’s.