One week, you're palling around at the Winter Olympics with the president's daughter; the next, you're trying to dodge your boss' wrath. So it — apparently — goes for the White House press secretary. President Donald Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders are reportedly on the outs over how she handled the Stormy Daniels story during Wednesday's press briefing.
CNN's David Wright, citing reporting from his colleague Jim Acosta, claimed Trump was upset with Sanders after Wednesday's briefing because he felt she'd thrown even more fuel on the story. "POTUS is very unhappy. Sarah gave the Stormy Daniels storyline steroids yesterday," Wright reported an unnamed White House source had told Acosta.
Sanders fielded questions from reporters Wednesday regarding allegations President Trump had paid an adult film star before the election in an effort to keep her quiet about their more-than-a-decade-old affair. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, says Trump's personal lawyer paid her $130,000 to stay mum about an alleged extramarital affair she had with Trump in 2006. She's now suing Trump for the right to speak publicly about their alleged relationship.
While Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, doesn't deny making a six-figure payment to Daniels, he's claimed that the money came from his own funds, which would separate Trump from the payment and the case. But when asked if Trump approved of that payment, Sanders seemed to imply Trump was involved somehow. "This case has already been won in arbitration," Sanders said after repeating Trump's denial of the allegations.
But Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told CBS News that Sanders' claim that Trump had "won" the case in arbitration was "bogus" and "completely false." Avenatti claims Cohen's company secured a temporary restraining order against Daniels last week in a move to keep her from speaking out about the nondisclosure agreement she's currently fighting.
"For the White House spokesperson to stand up and claim that Trump won the case in arbitration is ludicrous," Avenatti said, according to CBS News. "I'm dumbfounded."
In court documents made public earlier this week, Daniels alleged Trump was well aware of his lawyer's efforts to silence her and the "hush money" paid to her. Her story contrasts sharply with Trump's claim he'd had no knowledge of what his lawyer was doing. In her lawsuit, Daniels argued the nondisclosure agreement she signed is invalid because Trump never signed it; instead, the suit suggests he entered into the agreement under the pseudonym "David Dennison."
The Wall Street Journal was among the first to report on Cohen's hush-money payment to Daniels. Shortly after that, the tabloid In Touch released a 2011 interview with Daniels in which she revealed a few juicy details about the alleged affair. While Trump has repeatedly denied the affair, the tabloid claimed it gave Daniels a polygraph test — which she passed — and corroborated her story with friends who also passed polygraph tests. Daniels' 2011 In Touch interview reportedly predated the nondisclosure agreement Cohen arranged.
When questioned about whether the president knew about the payment to Daniels at the time it was made, Sanders didn't say "no." Rather, she said "not that I'm aware of." The press secretary also said she didn't know whether Trump had spoken to Cohen about the case since Daniels' latest allegations made headlines.
According to CNN, White House sources told Acosta they were "surprised" at how "sloppy" Sanders had been in handling the issue with reporters. The White House did not immediately return Bustle's request for comment.