Legal expert Alan Dershowitz warned President Donald Trump lawyers against playing “into the hands” of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigatory team. On “Meet the Press”, Dershowitz said on Sunday that Trump’s legal team are at risk by providing differing accounts about Trump’s knowledge of a payment made to stripper Stormy Daniels. “It seems to me that the approach last week of the Trump team plays into the hands of Mueller's tactic to try, at any cost, to try to find technical violations against lower ranking people so that they can be squeezed,” Dershowitz said.
Trump’s new legal counsel, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said last week that Trump had reimbursed Michael Cohen -- the president’s personal attorney -- for the $130,000 payment to Daniels just days before the 2016 presidential election. This account contradicted a previous statement by Trump that he was unaware of the payment. “This is the way prosecutors operate,” Dershowitz added about Mueller's investigative methods. "But Giuliani knows it too and shouldn't be playing into their hands."
Additionally, Dershowitz said he feels it is a “close case” on whether the $130,000 payment to Daniels violated any campaign finance laws. He added that if there were any violations, they are not substantial. Dershowitz criticized the media strategy of Trump’s legal team, including Giuliani’s interview. “The Trump team has to speak with a single narrative," he said. "They have to get their story clearly set out. It has to be put in writing. It shouldn't be put on television shows off the cuff. This is not the way to handle a complicated case."
Since his announcement last week that Trump ultimately repaid the $130,000 that Cohen sent to Daniels, Giuliani again defended the payment in a Saturday night on Fox News. “The president of the United States did not in any way violate the campaign finance law,” he said on Fox News. “Every campaign finance expert, Republican and Democrat, will tell you that if it was for another purpose other than just campaigns, even if it was for campaign purposes, if it was to save his family, to save embarrassment. It's not a campaign donation. And second, even if it was a campaign donation, the president reimbursed it fully with a payment of $35,000 a month.”
Last week, Giuliani claimed in a Washington Post interview that if stripper Daniels was truthful about her allegations of an affair with Trump, she would have received more money. For their part, Trump and his attorneys have denied any affair. "If somebody made an allegation against one of my clients that wasn’t true, and accepted $135,000 to settle it, I know the public may think the settlement may mean an admission of guilt, but it’s not...If you’re talking $5 or $6 million, now you’d have something different," he told the paper. The Washington Post notes it's unclear why Giuliani said $135,000 when the payment was actually $130,000.
On ABC, Giuliani said on Sunday that he is not aware of any other payments from Cohen to other women on Trump’s behalf. However, he did not rule out the possibility. “I have no knowledge of that, but I would think if it was necessary, yes,” he said.