Analysts, lawyers, and campaign finance experts are dissecting Rudy Giuliani’s bombshell on Wednesday night’s Hannity that his newest client, President Trump, paid back his lawyer Michael Cohen for Cohen’s $130,000 pre-election hush agreement with porn star Stormy Daniels. But Giuliani also had a potentially problematic new explanation for why Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last year, when Comey was overseeing the investigation into Russian election meddling and possible Trump campaign collusion.
“He fired Comey because Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn’t a target in the investigation,” Giuliani told Sean Hannity. “He’s entitled to that. Hillary Clinton got that, and he couldn’t get that. … So he fired him, and he said, ‘I’m free of this guy.'” Officially, Trump fired Comey because of how he handled the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server, and Giuliani appears to be referencing Comey’s statement clearing Clinton at the end of the FBI investigation. (The Trump-Russia investigation is still ongoing, now headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.) Trump quickly told NBC’s Lester Holt that he’d fired Comey because of the Russia investigation, and days later he told Russia’s top diplomats behind closed doors in the Oval Office that Comey was a “real nut job” and firing him removed “great pressure because of Russia.”
On MSNBC Wednesday night, Brian Williams played Giuliani’s statement and then Trump’s comment to Holt. “Everyone here loses credibility, both Trump and Giuliani, because they can’t even keep their story internally consistent,” former federal attorney Mimi Rocah said. “What Giuliani said is essentially some of the evidence that Mueller would be looking for, which is that Trump fired Comey because Comey wouldn’t clear his name. That goes right to that question of intent with respect to obstruction.” Trump’s admission to Holt was “damaging,” she added, “but Giuliani’s was even more focused than that” and “rings even more of obstruction.” Watch below. Peter Weber