It was a talking point for anyone who, like Fox News host Sean Hannity, moves about the world in search of more effective ways of coddling President Trump. In his marathon interview with Trump lawyer/longtime cable guest/former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani Wednesday night, Hannity asked this question:
My question is, are you concerned in the process of this, we did discover that a foreign national, Christopher Steele, was paid through Fusion GPS, used Russian sources that not only weren’t verified, but were debunked — are you concerned that was paid for, to manipulate the American people in the lead-up to an election?
Typical Hannity: Distract from all the details of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe, the various indictments, the dicey entanglements. Focus on the dossier. And get surefire agreement from buddy Giuliani: “Isn’t that closer to the mandate than Michael Cohen?” said the former mayor, referring to the ongoing investigation into Cohen, a longtime attorney for Trump.
HANNITY: Why isn’t that — Where is Mueller on that, sir?
GIULIANI: Having something to do with paying some Stormy Daniels woman $130,000, I mean, which is going to turn out to be perfectly legal. That money was not campaign money, sorry, I’m giving you a fact now that you don’t know. It’s not campaign money. No campaign finance violation. So —
HANNITY: They funneled it through a law firm.
GIULIANI: They funneled through a law firm, and the president repaid it.
HANNITY: I didn’t know he did?
HANNITY: So the president —
GIULIANI: Just like every, Sean —
HANNITY: So this decision was made by —
GIULIANI: Sean, everybody was nervous about this from the very beginning. I wasn’t. I knew how much money Donald Trump put into that campaign, and I said, “$130,000? He could do a couple of checks for $130,000.”
When I heard of Cohen’s retainer of $35,000 when he was doing no work for the president, I said, that’s how he’s repaying — that’s how he’s repaying it with a little profit and a little margin for paying taxes for Michael.
HANNITY: But do you know the president didn’t know about this? I believe that’s what Michael said.
GIULIANI: 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 this with my clients. I don’t burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people.
Everyone in the media has picked up on the revelation. Those accounts also noted that Giuliani’s statement appears to conflict with something that Trump had said: “No,” he responded to reporters on Air Force One in April when asked if he’d known about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels.
In an interview with The Post’s Robert Costa after the “Hannity” interview, Giuliani made clear that his revelation on the show wasn’t a mistake. In fact, said Giuliani, he’d discussed such a disclosure with the president himself. “Oh, yeah, yeah. Sure, sure. He was well aware that at some point when I saw the opportunity, I was going to get this over with,” said Giuliani.
So he did it on “Hannity,” natch.
Though the show is titled “Hannity,” on this night it might have been renamed “Buddies.” Upon introducing Giuliani, Hannity said, “We’ve been through a lot together.” As they were discussing the situation with Cohen, Giuliani told Hannity, “I like Michael a lot, you like Michael a lot.” Hannity replied, “A long time.” At one point, Hannity cited the opinions of “so many lawyers that I respect, that you know and respect — Alan Dershowitz, Joe diGenova. These are heavy hitters. Our own Gregg Jarrett.” Giuliani responded, “All my friends.”
And, of course, Giuliani and Hannity couldn’t possibly inch closer to the president himself. Which reminds us: Who’s the Fox News host who commonly bashes self-dealing, backscratching coastal media elites?