ADDS WHITE HOUSE COMMENT IN GRAPHS 2 and 8, GIULIANI TIMELINE OF PAYMENTS IN GRAPHS 7
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - President Donald Trump acknowledged Thursday a payment to an adult film star, calling it a "monthly retainer" to his long-time lawyer Michael Cohen that had "nothing to do with the campaign".
Trump claimed last month he had no knowledge of the hush money payment or where the funds came from, which the White House sought to explain by saying the president did not have knowledge of the payments at the time "but eventually learned" about them.
The payout to Daniels was made just weeks before the 2016 election when Trump was facing backlash for recorded crass comments he made about groping women.
The startling about-face came the morning after Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who recently joined Trump's legal team, acknowledged the reimbursements to Michael Cohen, who paid Stormy Daniels $130,000.
Giuliani told Fox News Wednesday Trump "didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know."
"But he did know about the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this. Like, I take care of this with my clients. I don’t burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people," Giuliani said.
Trump had been making the payments to Cohen in 2017, and possibly made one reimbursement in 2018, Giuliani told the Washington Post Thursday, calling into question the White House's insistence Trump did not have knowledge of them last month.
Asked why she told reporters in March she had no knowledge of the payments, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said she gave the media "the best information I had at the time".
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges a 2006 affair with Trump just months after his wife, Melania, gave birth to their son. She described in intimate detail the alleged affair during a nationally-televised interview. Trump has denied it ever took place.
The president said in a series of lengthy tweets Cohen received the monthly retainer "from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA.
"In this case, it is in full force and effect and will be used in arbitration for damages against Ms. Clifford (Daniels). The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair. Prior to its violation by Ms. Clifford and her attorney, this was a private agreement."
Cohen is facing increasing legal pressure after his home and offices were raided by the FBI last month in part to seek records about the Daniels payment, which has raised questions of possible campaign finance violations.