Donald Trump admitted he reimbursed his lawyer for a $130,000 payment to a porn star, ending months of White House denials. Picture: Saul Loeb/AFP
Donald Trump admitted he reimbursed his lawyer for a $130,000 payment to a porn star, ending months of White House denials. Picture: Saul Loeb/AFP

How Trump is getting away with lying

IT'S the latest scandal for a powerful man who's had no shortage of them.

United States President Donald Trump has admitted to reimbursing his lawyer for a hush payment made to a former porn star who claims she had an affair with him.

Only last month he told media on board Air Force One he knew nothing about the payment.

The admission is the latest in a string of scandals and untruths that would have potentially ended other people's political careers.

It also isn't the first time the President hasn't been completely honest, after baldly exaggerating the size of the crowd at his inauguration.

He also said Barack Obama tapped his phones and his administration gave the biggest tax cuts in US history, claims that don't bear scrutiny.

HOW DOES HE GET AWAY WITH IT?

Lowy Institute nonresident fellow Professor James Curran said the President wasn't your average politician, but the Stormy Daniels admission was still a revealing development.

"It suggests the President is becoming increasingly tangled in his own web of contradictions and levity with the truth," he said.

The University of Sydney history professor and expert in US politics told news.com.au this could also have huge implications for special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Prof Curran highlighted how Mr Trump's supporters admired his authenticity, even if he had flaws or got caught stretching the truth.

Donald Trump told media on board Air Force One last month he didn’t know about the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. Picture: Evan Vucci/AP
Donald Trump told media on board Air Force One last month he didn’t know about the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. Picture: Evan Vucci/AP

"No one, least of all Trump, has ever claimed him to be devoted to detail," Prof Curran said.

"His base sticks with him. They've long ago forgiven his faults. They crave his authenticity, even with all its flaws.

"Still, we don't yet have the facts or the evidence to state categorically that the payment to Daniels was to protect his marriage and reputation or whether it was to help his campaign. We will have to wait and see whether the raids on (former lawyer Michael) Cohen's office provide any proof."

While former US President Bill Clinton ultimately came unstuck over lies over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Prof Curran said Mr Trump's situation was very different.

"The Clinton episode related to lying about a liaison while president, conducted in the White House," he said.

"As I see it what's at issue here is whether Trump's lie amounts to a deliberate attempt to mask a violation of campaign finance laws."

Mr Trump admitted he knew about the payment after his new lawyer Rudy Giuliani discussed it on Fox News Channel in an effort to prove that the money did not break campaign finance laws.

Prof Curran said it was hard to tell whether Mr Giuliani was spilling unhelpful beans or trying to get out in front of the story.

"Either way, the episode once again reveals why Trump advisers would be extremely wary about letting the President sit down with special prosecutor Robert Mueller," he said.

As The New York Timesreveals, Mr Trump has been slippery with the truth for some time and the public has simply become used to it.

A NBC News poll also found 61 per cent of Americans thought Mr Trump told the truth only some of the time or less.

Ms Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted the latest revelation should outrage Americans, regardless of their political persuasion, suggesting the President had lied.

 

 

STORMY SCANDAL

Mr Trump's latest extraordinary admission is a stunning reversal after the US President only last month claimed he did not know about a $130,000 payment made to Stormy Daniels.

Ms Daniels claims it was money paid to cover up a tryst that took place more than a decade ago.

Mr Trump was asked whether he knew about the payment while on board Air Force One just weeks ago.

"No," Mr Trump said about the payment, which was made by his private lawyer Michael Cohen just one month before the 2016 election.

"You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my lawyer. You'll have to ask Michael."

Mr Trump said at the time that he didn't know why his lawyer made the payment or where he got the money.

However Mr Giuliani revealed the President had repaid Mr Cohen for the payment to Ms Daniels.

Mr Trump confessed he did provide the payment - but insisted it "had nothing to do with" the presidential election campaign.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani may have added to the legal headaches of his new client and old friend Mr Trump. Picture: Carolyn Kaster/AP
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani may have added to the legal headaches of his new client and old friend Mr Trump. Picture: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Over Twitter, Mr Trump revealed Mr Cohen "received a monthly retainer … from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a nondisclosure agreement".

The President also said such agreements were "very common among celebrities and people of wealth" and he would be claiming damages against Ms Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) for violating the "private agreement".

"Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll [sic] in this transaction," he tweeted.

Mr Giuliani told Fox News host Sean Hannity that it "is going to turn out to be perfectly legal" because "that money was not campaign money".

SRETCHING THE TRUTH

The turnaround is the latest in a long line of issues the President has been caught out on, including the claim that his administration brought about the biggest tax cuts ever when they were, in fact, only the eighth biggest.

Mr Trump has claimed millions of people voted fraudulently in the 2016 election, saying he would have won the popular vote otherwise. There is no evidence to support that claim.

He repeatedly said he won in the biggest landslide since Ronald Reagan, when most of the elections since Mr Reagan's tenure have been decided by larger margins.

Stormy Daniels, with lawyer Michael Avenatti, claims she had a sexual tryst with Mr Trump more than a decade ago. Picture: Mary Altaffer/AP
Stormy Daniels, with lawyer Michael Avenatti, claims she had a sexual tryst with Mr Trump more than a decade ago. Picture: Mary Altaffer/AP

Mr Trump sent his press secretary Sean Spicer out to tell the media his inauguration crowd was the largest ever, "period", when photos clearly proved that claim wrong.

The President insists the Russia investigation is a political "witch hunt" investigating potential crimes that never happened, ignoring the fact that it has already led to charges against dozens of people, including Mr Trump's former national security adviser and his former campaign manager.

The President also tweeted an accusation that Barack Obama was a "bad (or sick) guy" for tapping his phones, when there was no evidence to suggest this was the case at all.

And of course, there are the numerous times Mr Trump has called media stories "fake news" when they have turned out to be true.

UNDER SCRUTINY?

In an interview with news.com.au in February, journalist Howard Kurtz reveals how said Mr Trump's words would never live up to scrutiny, despite many media outlets constantly reporting on his many embellishments and exaggerations.

The author of Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press and the War Over the Truth said Mr Trump's "guy-in-the-bar style" meant his words shouldn't be taken literally.

"The media were accustomed to covering presidents whose language was carefully calibrated, whose every utterance was vetted by the bureaucracy," Kurtz wrote in the book.

"Trump's endless talk-a-than, his habit of making policy on the fly, made for good copy but it also left Washington reporters appalled, as they held him to a standard he had no intention of observing."

Kurtz also pointed out there was no way to stop Mr Trump from speaking his mind, something which often left his advisers blindsided.

- with the Associated Press

debra.killalea@news.com.au


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