In a pair of Friday interviews, Rudy Giuliani went all in on claims that President Trump had no idea his personal attorney spent the early months of 2017 trying to earn clients by pitching his access to the White House.
Asked by the Associated Press if Trump knew Michael Cohen was trying to profit off his ties to Trump, Giuliani said, “The answer is that I am quite certain he didn’t.”
Giuliani also told HuffPost that the President “had no knowledge” that Cohen received hundreds of thousands of dollars from companies including AT&T, Novartis, and an investment bank associated with a Russian oligarch.
“Whatever lobbying was done didn’t reach the president,” Giuliani insisted to HuffPost. “He did drain the swamp.”
These firm denials are much stronger than Giuliani’s response when the story of Cohen’s access peddling first broke earlier this week. On Wednesday, Giuiliani claimed he had “no idea” if Trump directed Cohen to accept the payments, saying only, “I doubt it.”
The President has been distancing himself from his longtime “fixer” and personal lawyer as Cohen’s legal woes come into sharper focus. Trump recently referred to Cohen, who worked closely with him for over 10 years, as “an attorney” who did very little actual legal work for him.
In his interview with HuffPost, Giuliani referred to Cohen as “collateral damage.”
One thing Cohen did do: arrange hush money payments. Giuliani recently said that Trump reimbursed the $130,000 Cohen paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels in October 2016 to keep her quiet about the affair she claims they had.
The payments were made through Essential Consultants LLC, the same shell company Cohen used to receive payments from major corporations for his supposed consulting work.
Federal prosecutors are investigating Cohen’s financial dealings for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations.