President Donald Trump responded for the first time on Thursday to questions about a payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
While speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One following an appearance in West Virginia, Trump was asked if he knew about the $130,000 payment Trump’s longtime personal attorney and confidant Michael Cohen arranged for Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, as she was shopping the story of her alleged 2006 affair with Trump to several major media outlets shortly before the 2016 presidential election.
“No,” Trump responded.
Trump claimed not to know where the money Cohen used came from, ignored a question about whether he ever set up a fund that Cohen could draw from, and directed further inquiries to the attorney himself.
“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” Trump said. “Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”
Daniels filed a lawsuit against Trump in March arguing that the so-called hush agreement, the existence of which was first revealed by The Wall Street Journal, is invalid because Trump never signed it.
Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told ABC News previously that Trump “absolutely knew” about the payment.
“Any suggestion that he didn't know about it is, quite honestly, absurd,” Avenatti said. “We believe that he absolutely knew about it.”
Avenatti took to Twitter as news of Trump’s remarks spread online.
“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 wrote. “As history teaches us, it is one thing to deceive the press and quite another to do so under oath. #searchforthetruth #basta”
He even suggested that Trump’s denial could help his client win her case against him.
“Good (actually GREAT) things come to those who wait!!!” he added. “The strength of our case just went up exponentially. You can't have an agreement when one party claims to know nothing about it. #nodiscipline #thanksforplaying #basta”
David Schwartz, an attorney and spokesperson for Cohen, pointed out that Trump’s recent statement is consistent with those made by his client.
“That is an accurate assessment of the facts,” Schwartz said in a statement. “That’s what I have been saying all along and that’s what Michael has been saying all along. Michael Cohen made the payment to protect business, family and reputation. It had nothing to do with the election.”