Rudy Giuliani appears to have been making an effort at damage control with his bombshell media appearances this week, analysts say—but it may have backfired, big time. Legal experts tell the Washington Post that the remarks from Giuliani, who recently joined President Trump's legal team, could provide investigators with new leads and new evidence. Giuliani not only revealed that Trump reimbursed lawyer Michael Cohen for a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, analysts note, he strongly suggested it was made to protect the campaign, strengthening the case for a possible campaign finance violation. He also hinted at other payments, saying that out of a $35,000-a-month retainer, "there probably were other things of a personal nature that Michael took care of." In other developments:
- "Trump just added to the chaos." Insiders tell the New York Times that other members of Trump's legal team were blindsided by Giuliani's remarks and scrambled to find out whether he had meant to reveal that Trump reimbursed Cohen. "Everyone is wondering, what in the world is he doing?” says New York Democratic consultant George Arzt. "I would not have sent out Rudy to talk about the investigation. But Trump likes chaos and Trump just added to the chaos."
- NBC backtracks on Cohen wiretap. NBC reported Thursday that federal investigators had tapped Cohen's phone, then corrected itself, quoting officials who said investigators had logged calls made from the phone, but not monitored the content.
- Sanders didn't know about payments. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Thursday that she only found out about the payments through Giuliani's Fox appearance. "I’m not part of the legal team and wouldn’t be part of those discussions," said Sanders, who denied that she had lied last month when she said Trump was not involved in the payments. "We give the very best information that we have at the time," she said.
- "Severe consequences." Michael Avenatti, Daniels attorney, warned Thursday that there would be "severe consequences" for the dishonesty of Cohen and Trump, the AP reports. "The admissions by Mr. Giuliani as to Mr. Trump's conduct and the acts of Mr. Cohen are directly contrary to the lies previously told to the American people," he said.
- Colbert weighs in. Stephen Colbert mocked Giuliani's Hannity appearance on the Late Show Thursday. "Rudy, you’re not helping," he said, per the Daily Beast. "I’m not a lawyer, and I know not to do that. Didn’t Rudy see Trump on Air Force One?" he said, referring to Trump's claim earlier this month that he didn't know about Cohen's payment to Daniels. "Between Cohen and Trump, one of these two men is lying… and it’s both of them," Colbert said.
(Trump said Thursday that Daniels was paid to stop making "false and extortionate" claims about an affair