U.S. President Donald Trump sits for a meeting in the White House. (Photographer: Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Bloomberg)

Trump Says He Didn't Know About Lawyer's Payment to Porn Star

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t know about a payment his attorney made to the adult-film actress known as Stormy Daniels in exchange for remaining silent about an alleged sexual encounter.

“You have to ask Michael Cohen,” Trump said to reporters aboard Air Force One. “Michael’s my attorney and you’ll have to ask Michael.”

Cohen has said he paid Daniels $130,000 out of his own pocket weeks before the 2016 election, and that neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was directly or indirectly a party to the transaction. Trump has denied having had a relationship with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and said Thursday that he didn’t know where Cohen got the money.

“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,” Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, said on Twitter. “As history teaches us, it is one thing to deceive the press and quite another to do so under oath.”

Cohen didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Daniels sued Trump last month, claiming the “hush agreement” isn’t valid because the president never signed it. She added Cohen to the lawsuit, saying he has defamed her with a statement that made her look like a liar. Daniels has offered to pay back the money in exchange for releasing her from the confidentiality obligations.

Cohen and the president’s lawyers have threatened to claim as much as $20 million in damages from Daniels for violating the agreement and have sought to have the suit moved to federal court.

Daniels reasserted the 2006 affair with Trump and the payment in an interview last month with CBS’s “60 Minutes.” She has sought to invalidate her nondisclosure agreement with Cohen, in part because she says Trump didn’t sign it, and said her decision to speak out was driven by suggestions by the president’s associates that she made up the story.

In the interview, Daniels said she’d been paid the $130,000 to remain silent a month before the 2016 election. She said she signed the agreement because she believed Cohen would make her “life hell in many different ways” if she didn’t.

“I was concerned for my family and their safety,” she told “60 Minutes.”

She said she and her young daughter were physically threatened by an unidentified man in Las Vegas in 2011 if she revealed the affair. Earlier that year, Cohen had threatened to sue In Touch magazine if it published an interview with Daniels in which she detailed the relationship, according to “60 Minutes.”

Other tell-all interviews and legal challenges from women in Trump’s past have also emerged. Former Playboy model Karen McDougal, in an earlier interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, said she began a 10-month affair with Trump in 2006 and that she also took money to stay silent before the 2016 presidential election. Both women chose to break non-disclosure agreements and have filed lawsuits seeking to undo the contracts.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.