US President Donald Trump has been flustered by the onslaught of negative coverage generated by his new personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, with his recent statement on hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels and the ongoing Russian probe .
Trump also expressed annoyance over the fact that Giuliani's theatrics have breathed new life into the Daniels story. It's a concern shared by Trump allies who think Giuliani is only generating more legal and political trouble for the White House.
Giuliani's perplexing and sometimes conflicting remarks have increasingly become a cause of consternation for Trump's aides.
Giuliani, the newest addition to the president's legal team, first rattled the White House last week when he sat for interviews on Fox News and seemed to contradict Trump by saying the president was aware of the $130,000 payout to Daniels from his personal attorney, Michael Cohen. He also suggested the October 2016 settlement had been made because Trump was in the stretch run of his presidential campaign.
After Trump chided Giuliani on Friday, saying the lawyer needed to "get his facts straight," Giuliani put out a statement trying to clarify his remarks.
Giulani in an interview to CNN said,"I am focused on the law more than on the facts right now."
But in weekend interviews, Giuliani appeared to dig himself a deeper hole by acknowledging that "Cohen takes care of situations like this, then gets paid for them sometimes." He did not rule out the possibility that Cohen had paid off other women.
Trump, who has denied the affair with Daniels, was angry that Giuliani had given the impression that other women may have made similar charges of infidelity, according to the people familiar with his views.
Additionally, Trump has grown agitated in recent days by replays of Giuliani's interview with Sean Hannity, in which he said that Trump knew about the payment but that it wasn't a campaign violation. A clearly surprised Hannity then asked, "Because they funneled it through the law firm?"
To which Giuliani responded, "Funneled it through the law firm, and the president repaid him."
As for Giuliani, the president has not yet signaled to him to stop appearing on television but told a confidant recently that perhaps Giuliani should "be benched" — at least temporarily — if he can't improve his performance.
Many in the White House have begun evoking comparisons between Giuliani and Anthony Scaramucci, another hard-charging New Yorker with a knack for getting TV airtime.
Scaramucci lasted 11 days before being fired. The former White House communications director himself drew parallels between his own burn-bright-burn-fast tenure and Giuliani's performance.
"I am enjoying all of the comparisons between me and the mayor Rudy Giuliani," Scaramucci tweeted on Sunday. "He is loyal, tough and a fierce competitor. He fights and will win for Donald Trump. Big compliment thank you!"
Giuliani did not respond to requests for comment.
His behavior grew more unpredictable during the stretch run of the 2016 presidential campaign, when Trump chided him for falling asleep on the campaign plane, according to two former campaign officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.
Giuliani also alienated a number of people in Trump's inner circle by insisting that the only Cabinet position he would consider would be secretary of state. He did not get the post.
Giuliani's remarks have been watched with equal concern at the State Department, the Pentagon and other national security agencies, starting last week when he said on television that North Korea would release three Americans detained in the country.
"We got Kim Jong Un impressed enough to be releasing three prisoners today," Giuliani told Fox News.
Although Trump has hinted that such a move could be coming, there has been no formal announcement by the US government, which is in detailed talks with North Korea at the moment to plan a historic summit between Kim and Trump. The detainees have not yet been released as predicted by Giuliani.
Then on Saturday, Giuliani caused another stir when he spoke to a group that supports the overthrow of Iran's government and said that the president was "committed" to regime change in Iran.
Although Trump is sharply critical of Iran and preparing for a decision by week's end about whether to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal, his administration has not called for overthrowing Iran's government. US officials said they were taken aback by Giuliani's comments and did not consider them to be consistent with current Trump administration policy.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: May 08, 2018 22:09:09 IST