Former federal prosecutor and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin reacted with visible and audible surprise Thursday morning when a clip he hadn’t seen yet of Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani commenting about Michael Cohen played.
Giuliani had already made waves Wednesday night when he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that Trump actually reimbursed Cohen for the much-discussed $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels, raising alarms of a possible campaign finance violation.
In case you missed it, Giuliani said the money was “funneled […] through the law firm and the president repaid it.” He said Trump “didn’t know about the specifics of it,” as far as he knew, but “he did know about the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this, like I take care of things like this for my clients.” He also said that in the end this would “turn out to be perfectly legal” and that the money wasn’t campaign money.
Giuliani appeared Thursday morning on Fox & Friends and the comments he made then seemed to stun Toobin when they were replayed hours later.
“Imagine if [the Daniels story] came out on October 15, 2016 in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton,” Guiliani said. “Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”
“I hadn’t heard that clip before. I mean, that’s a confession.” Toobin responded. “That’s a confession that this is a campaign finance violation because they wanted to shut her up in October of 2016.”
“That’s why the payment was made then,” he continued. “It was obvious to all of us, but now you have the president’s lawyer confessing that this was a payment for the benefit of the campaign.”
Toobin said that while most Federal Election Commission (FEC) violations are handled “civilly,” if the violation is “willful” and intentional “it can be handled criminally.”
“It’s not an impressive performance so far by the former mayor,” he said.
[Image via CNN screengrab]
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