NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump is growing increasingly irritated with lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s frequently off-message media blitz, which has included muddying the waters on hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels and making claims that could complicate the president’s standing in the special counsel’s Russia probe.
Trump has begun questioning whether Giuliani, an old friend and former New York City mayor, should be sidelined from television interviews, according to two people familiar with the president’s thinking but not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.
Trump also expressed annoyance that Giuliani’s theatrics have breathed new life into the Daniels story. It’s a concern shared by Trump allies who think Giuliani is only generating more legal and political trouble for the White House.
Giuliani, the newest addition to the president’s legal team, first rattled the White House last week when he sat for interviews on Fox News and seemed to contradict Trump by saying the president was aware of the $130,000 payout to Daniels from his personal attorney, Michael Cohen. He also suggested the October 2016 settlement had been made because Trump was in the stretch run of his presidential campaign.
After Trump chided Giuliani on Friday, saying the lawyer needed to “get his facts straight,” Giuliani put out a statement trying to clarify his remarks. But in weekend interviews, Giuliani appeared to dig himself a deeper hole by acknowledging that “Cohen takes care of situations like this, then gets paid for them sometimes.” He did not rule out the possibility that Cohen had paid off other women.
Trump, who has denied the affair with Daniels, was angry that Giuliani had given the impression that other women may have made similar charges of infidelity, according to the people familiar with his views.
Additionally, Trump has grown agitated in recent days by replays of Giuliani’s interview with Sean Hannity, in which he said that Trump knew about the payment but that it wasn’t a campaign violation. A clearly surprised Hannity then asked, “Because they funneled it through the law firm?”
To which Giuliani responded, “Funneled it through the law firm, and the president repaid him.”
Trump snapped at both men in recent days, chiding Hannity for using the word “funneled,” which he believes had illegal connotations, according to the people who spoke to The Associated Press. As for Giuliani, the president has not yet signaled to him to stop appearing on television but told a confidant recently that perhaps Giuliani should “be benched” — at least temporarily — if he can’t improve his performance....The president has not publicly discussed dismissing Giuliani and has appreciated his sharp attacks on the Russia investigation and his forceful battles with the press, according to three White House aides and outside allies. The two men have spoken frequently, according to officials familiar with their interactions but not authorized to discuss private conversations.But many Trump allies both inside and outside the White House