Trump claims ‘absolute immunity’, lawyer admits Cohen repayment

A couple of stories on the continuing Trump legal challenges – Trump has claimed absolute immunity on beneficial use of assets owned by his family while he is president, and one of his lawyers contradicts Trump on a ‘hush money’ payment made by another of his lawyers.

Reuters: Trump claims immunity, asks court to toss foreign payments suit

President Donald Trump has again asked a U.S. court to dismiss a suit accusing him of flouting constitutional safeguards against corruption by refusing to separate himself from his business empire while in office, claiming “absolute immunity.”

The lawsuit, filed by the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia, accused Trump of violating the U.S. Constitution’s “emoluments” clause that bars U.S. officials from accepting gifts or other payments from foreign governments without congressional approval. The same clause also bars the president from receiving gifts and payments from individual states.

“If Plaintiffs want to sue the President for acts taken while in office, they must sue him in official capacity. But he is absolutely immune from any suit, including this one, seeking to impose individual liability premised on his assumption of the Presidency itself,” Trump’s lawyer William Consovoy wrote in a court filing on Tuesday.

“The Supreme Court has concluded that the costs to the Nation of allowing such suits to distract the President from his official duties outweigh any countervailing interests. That choice must be respected,” Consovoy added.

Trump, whose businesses include a host of real estate properties as well as golf courses and a Virginia winery, handed day-to-day management to two of his sons. But the plaintiffs said Trump has not disentangled himself and is vulnerable to inducements by people, including foreign officials, seeking to curry favor.

Trump is reported to frequently use resorts and hotels owned by him or his family for presidential purposes. I don’t know if he can successfully claim absolute immunity.

Meanwhile, a twist in the Stormy Daniels story: Giuliani Says Trump Paid Back His Lawyer for Daniels Payment

President Donald Trump reimbursed his personal lawyer for $130,000 in hush money paid to a porn actress days before the 2016 presidential election, Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s attorneys, said Wednesday, appearing to contradict the president’s past claims that he didn’t know the source of the money.

During an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity,” Giuliani said the money to repay Michael Cohen had been “funneled … through the law firm and the president repaid it.”

Asked if Trump knew about the arrangement, Giuliani said: “He didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know. 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. I don’t burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people.”

The comments appeared to contradict statements made by Trump several weeks ago, when he said he didn’t know about the payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels as part of a nondisclosure agreement she signed days before the presidential election. Giuliani later suggested to The Wall Street Journal that while Trump had repaid the $130,000, Cohen had settled the payment to Daniels without Trump’s knowledge at the time.

Guiliani’s revelation seemed aimed at reducing the president’s legal exposure. But outside experts said it raised a number of questions, including whether the money represented repayment of an undisclosed loan or could be seen as reimbursement for a campaign expenditure.

So Giuliani seems to be claiming that Trump paid back Cohen from his own money but had no idea what it was for.

But this may have made things murkier given Trump’s confusing claims.

Asked aboard Air Force One last month whether he knew about the payment, Trump said flatly: “No.” Trump also said he didn’t know why Cohen had made the payment or where he got the money.

In a phone interview with “Fox and Friends” last week, however, Trump appeared to muddy the waters, saying that Cohen represented him in the “crazy Stormy Daniels deal.”

This is one storm in a presidency that doesn’t look like fizzling out any time soon.

Trump runs his legal defences like his presidency, at times making strong claims (like of absolute immunity), but often all over the place.


In the meantime, with the North Korea and Iran issues remaining prominent, Trump’s approval rating has spiked a bit in the polls.


  1. David

     /  May 4, 2018

    Like most of America I am shocked and surprised at the Stormy payment revelation.

    • Gezza

       /  May 4, 2018

      Don’t see why. Everybody know he lies like a flatfish.

  2. Gezza

     /  May 4, 2018

    Re Rudi dropping Trump in it, Aljaz was reporting earlier that Trump has now admitted he knew about the payment because he repaid his lawyer but he says that the repayment was from him personally:it didn’t come from campaign funds. I have not independently verified this yet owing to a noisy pukeko tapping on my slider.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  May 4, 2018

    RCP Trump job approval average rating now 43.6% matching a peak exactly one year ago and highest since 19 March 2017. When he took office it was 44.2%:

    • Gezza

       /  May 4, 2018

      3001 false claims since then now. The average rate has been going up according to WaPo.

  4. Joe Bloggs

     /  May 4, 2018

    Former prosecutor Solomon Wisenberg compared former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s legal strategy to a murder-suicide on Thursday after Giuliani said in an interview that President Trump reimbursed his attorney, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 he paid to adult-film star Stormy Daniels.

    “I liken it to a murder-suicide,” Wisenberg told CNN’s Dana Bash. “He metaphorically murdered the president, and committed suicide with respect to his own reputation.”

  5. Joe Bloggs

     /  May 4, 2018

    Fox News devotes four minutes to tearing trump a new arsehole for all his lies: “I guess you’re too busy ‘draining the swamp’ to notice the stink you’re creating. Mr. President, that’s your stink.”