Donald Trump has said he did not know about the $130,000 ($169,000) payment his lawyer made to Stormy Daniels, in his first public comments about the adult film actress who alleges she and the US President had an affair.
Asked aboard Air Force One whether he knew about the payment, Mr Trump responded: “No.”
Mr Trump also said he was not aware of why his lawyer, Michael Cohen, had made the payment or where he got the money.
“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael,” he said.
Until now, Mr Trump had avoided any questions on Daniels, though the White House has consistently said the President denies there was a relationship.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, says she had a sexual encounter with the president in 2006 and was paid to keep quiet as part of a non-disclosure agreement signed days before the 2016 presidential election.
Daniels is now seeking to invalidate that agreement.
Her attorney Michael Avenatti tweeted in response to Mr Trump’s remarks: “We very much look forward to testing the truthfulness of Mr Trump’s feigned lack of knowledge concerning the $130,000 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.”
Michael Avenatti tweet: 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.
Relationship ‘continued for about a year’
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has offered to return the payment as she tries to “set the record straight”.
She said she had sex with Mr Trump once in 2006 and their relationship continued for about a year.
Stormy Daniels says she had an affair with the US President in 2006 and was paid as part of a non-disclosure agreement. (Reuters: Danny Moloshok)
Mr Trump married his current wife, Melania, in 2005, and their son Barron was born in 2006.
Daniels argues the non-disclosure agreement is legally invalid because it was only signed by her and Mr Cohen — and not by Mr Trump.
Earlier this week, Mr Trump asked a federal judge to order private arbitration in the case.
Mr Trump and Mr Cohen filed papers in federal court asking a judge to rule that the case must be heard by an arbitrator instead of a jury.
Mr Avenatti said they would oppose private arbitration, arguing it should be heard by the American public.