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President Donald Trump calls out to media as he and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pose for photographs as Giuliani arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

'Legal Peril' for President After Giuliani Admits Trump Repaid Stormy Daniels Hush Money

"Trump's own lawyer has now handed the DOJ evidence that President Trump committed criminal violations of federal law."

Jake Johnson

Frantically attempting to clean up the enormous mess made by his new lawyer Rudy Giuliani in an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News Wednesday night, President Donald Trump fired off a series of tweets early Thursday morning defending the reimbursement of his personal attorney Michael Cohen, who made a $130,000 hush payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to prevent her from going public with affair allegations.

Experts were quick to argue that Giuliani's remarks Wednesday night place Trump in "legal peril" because such payments constitute "violations of campaign finance law."

"This dope and evidently his lawyers do not—despite everything—understand how campaign finance law works."
—Norm Eisen, CREW

In his trio of Thursday morning tweets, the president, who previously asserted that he had no knowledge of Cohen's payment to Daniels, wrote: "Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement... Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll [sic] in this transaction."

Trump's tweets came after Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City who joined the president's legal team just two weeks ago, said on Fox News that Trump set up a "$35,000 a month" payment plan for Cohen to reimburse him for hush money paid to Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Responding to Trump's tweets on Thursday, Norm Eisen, former White House ethics chief and chair of Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW), argued that it is now clear neither the president nor his legal team "understand how campaign finance law works"—an argument bolstered by the fact that Trump's team reportedly knew what Giuliani was going to say during his Fox interview.

Eisen also argued that Trump's failure to disclose Cohen's payment to Daniels on his personal financial disclosures was a "crime."

As Giuliani continued to discuss Trump's reimbursement of Cohen on "Fox & Friends" Thursday morning in the midst of a flood of backlash, Eisen urged him to keep on talking.

"Keep digging Rudy, you are making the case—for the prosecution that is," Eisen wrote.

In a statement on the heels of Giuliani's Fox News interview Wednesday night, Paul S. Ryan, vice president for policy and litigation at Common Cause, agreed with Eisen that Trump appears to have violated campaign finance law and argued that Trump is now in even bigger legal trouble than before.

"Giuliani seemingly thought he was doing President Trump a favor—but instead made Trump's legal problems much, much worse. Giuliani's admission that Trump reimbursed Cohen amounts to an admission that Trump actually knew about the payment," Ryan said. "In other words, Trump's own lawyer has now handed the DOJ evidence that President Trump committed criminal violations of federal law."

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