President Donald Trump said today he was unaware of a $130,000 payment his lawyer made to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with Trump a decade ago and is suing him in Los Angeles over a non-disclosure agreement she signed before the 2016 election.
Asked by reporters aboard Air Force One if he knew about the payment, Trump said, ``No.'' Asked why his attorney, Michael Cohen, made the payment, Trump responded, ``You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You'll have to ask Michael.''
Trump also said he did not know where the money came from, and he ignored a follow-up question about whether he set up a fund of money that Cohen could access. The comments were Trump's first public acknowledgement of the Daniels case, although White House press officials have repeatedly denied Daniels' accusations that Trump had an affair with her beginning in 2006.
Daniels is suing Trump in federal court in Los Angeles claiming the ``hush agreement'' she signed in 2016 -- leading to the $130,000 payment -- is invalid because Trump himself never signed it. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims in her lawsuit that she is identified in the ``hush agreement'' by the pseudonym ``Peggy Peterson,'' while Trump used the name ``David Dennison.''
Trump's attorneys filed papers this week seeking to force the litigation into closed-door arbitration, as outlined in the agreement. Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said he will contest the move and continue to push for the chance to question Trump and Cohen about the alleged affair and the payment.Avenatti has frequently assailed insinuations that Trump did not know about the $130,000 payment, as Cohen has contended.
In response to Trump's comments Thursday, Avenatti wrote on Twitter, ``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. As history teaches us, it is one thing to deceive the press and quite another to do so under oath.''