While talking to reporters on Air Force One, President Trump acknowledged the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels publicly for the first time Wednesday. According to The New York Times, he claimed that he didn't know about the "hush money" his lawyer Michael Cohen paid Daniels in the last weeks of the 2016 election. Trump also said that he didn't know where that money came from, and that "you'll have to ask Michael" why the payment was made in the first place.
Daniels alleges that she and Trump had sex in 2006 after meeting at a celebrity golf tournament. Although Trump himself has not publicly issued any denial, Cohen says that Trump denies the allegations. Additionally, The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in late 2016 to remain silent about the alleged affair; Cohen acknowledges that he made this payment, but refuses to say what it was for.
“No," Trump said Thursday when asked if he was aware of the money his lawyer gave Daniels.
Shortly after The Times reported Trump's comments, Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted that he looks forward to hearing Trump address the $130,000 payment while under oath.
"We very much look forward to testing the truthfulness of Mr. Trump's feigned lack of knowledge concerning the $130k payment as stated on Air Force One," Avenatti tweeted. "As history teaches us, it is one thing to deceive the press and quite another to do so under oath."
Daniels initially spoke about her alleged affair with Trump in a 2011 interview with In Touch. That interview wasn't published, however, until after the Journal report from January 2018 was published. That same month, Daniels' publicist released a statement, attributed to Daniels, denying that the alleged affair took place. However, Daniels cast doubt on the veracity of that statement later on the very same day, telling Jimmy Kimmel that "it doesn't look like my signature" on the document.
In March, Daniels sued Trump. In the lawsuit, she said that she did have an "intimate relationship" with Trump in 2006, but that when she made moves to go public with the story in 2016, Trump and Cohen "aggressively sought to silence [her] as part of an effort to avoid her telling the truth, thus helping to ensure he won the presidential election."
Specifically, Daniels said that at Cohen's behest, she signed a non-disclosure agreement wherein she pledged not to speak publicly about the alleged affair; however, she also claims that Trump never signed it, rendering it invalid, and asked a judge to free her from the terms of the agreement. She also said that the statement she released in January, in which she appeared to deny that the affair took place, was false, and that Cohen "forced" her to sign it "through intimidation and coercive tactics."
Finally, in late March, Daniels gave a tell-all interview with 60 Minutes wherein she spoke extensively about the alleged affair. She said that the two had sex once in 2006, that she wasn't physically attracted to him, and that Trump contacted her repeatedly afterward in an attempt to see her again. She said that they two did hang out in his bungalow once the next year, but rather than having sex, they watched a four-hour documentary on shark attacks.
Daniels also said that after she gave the 2011 interview to In Touch, a man approached her in a parking lot and told her to "leave Trump alone" and "forget the story."
"He leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, 'That's a beautiful little girl It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom,'" Daniels said in the interview. "And then he was gone." She said that she interpreted this as a direct threat, but that she has no idea who the man was. Although neither Trump, the White House or Cohen has commented on this allegation, Cohen's own lawyer reportedly denied, in a letter to Avenatti, that Cohen had any involvement in that alleged incident.