President Donald Trump’s new attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told CNN on Thursday that Trump “wasn’t aware” his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen pitched his access to the President to potential clients following the 2016 election and landed lucrative consulting deals as a result.
“I talked to the President only one time about this and that was the first day it came out and he wasn’t aware of that situation that now, I guess, the facts are getting a little contorted,” Giuliani said when asked about Cohen’s pitch and if the President knew about it.
CNN reported on Wednesday that after Trump won the White House, Cohen highlighted his proximity to the President as a selling point to potential clients.
One Republican strategist described Cohen’s pitch as follows: “I don’t know who’s been representing you, but you should fire them all. I’m the guy you should hire. I’m closest to the President. I’m his personal lawyer.”
Giuliani also said Trump “wasn’t aware of the situation in which he got money from any of that group that was mentioned originally. I doubt it. Yeah, I doubt it. He didn’t know about any of the original stuff.”
CNN has reached out to Cohen for a response.
Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing Stormy Daniels, released a memo this week alleging Cohen received approximately half a million dollars from a company linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg along with payments from other companies, including telecommunications conglomerate AT&T.
Vekselberg is the chairman of Russian investment company Renova. Columbus Nova, which is described in a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission as Renova’s US affiliate, “hired Michael Cohen as a business consultant” after the inauguration, Richard Owens, an attorney for the company, said in a statement on Tuesday.
AT&T has acknowledged it worked with Cohen’s firm “to provide insights into understanding the new administration,” but said the firm “did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017.”
AT&T is seeking government approval for its acquisition of Time Warner, CNN’s parent company.
Giuliani added, “I’ll only get concerned about it if somebody says it involves the president. So far they’re not saying that.”
Lawyers representing Cohen have pushed back against Avenatti’s disclosures. In a court filing on Wednesday, Cohen’s attorney’s wrote, “While much of the information in his ‘report’ is completely inaccurate, Mr. Avenatti has published some information that appears to be from Mr. Cohen’s actual bank records, and Mr. Cohen has no reason to believe that Mr. Avenatti is in lawful possession of these records.”
Avenatti responded Wednesday night on Twitter, saying,”They fail to address, let alone contradict, 99% of the statements in what we released. Among other things, they effectively concede the receipt of the $500,000 from those with Russian ties.”
CNN’s MJ Lee, Kara Scannell, Marshall Cohen, Javier De Diego, Sarah Westwood, Gloria Borger, Sara Murray and Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.