President Donald Trump said on Thursday he did not know about a $130,000 payment made to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels for her silence, his first public acknowledgment of the scandal surrounding an alleged sexual affair that has plagued him for months.
“No,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One when questioned about his knowledge of the payment, which was made by his private attorney Michael Cohen in the month before the 2016 election.
Asked why Cohen made the payment, Trump said: “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”
He said he didn’t know where the money came from and ignored a question about whether he set up a fund for Cohen to draw from in making the payment.
The remarks break a months-long public silence from Trump on the matter, though he’s fumed about the issue in private and adamantly denied to his associates Daniels’ claim he had an affair with her in 2006.
Trump’s advisers encouraged him to avoid inflaming the issue by addressing it publicly, even as the President was itching to defend himself.
The White House has consistently refused to answer whether Trump was aware of the payment Cohen made to Daniels in October 2016.
The payment came in conjunction with a nondisclosure agreement Daniels signed that was designed to prevent her from speaking about the alleged sexual encounter.
Daniels recently filed a lawsuit to get out of the agreement, claiming it was void because Trump himself did not sign it.
And she has spoken out about her experience, including during an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired last month.