By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – President Donald Trump said Friday his team of lawyers and his administration are not “changing any stories ” amid mounting questions about what Trump knew about a payment to an adult film actress.
The torrent of questions started when Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now the public face of Trump's legal team, acknowledged Wednesday night Trump repaid his lawyer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels in a series of installments spanning 2017 and possibly including 2018.
The $35,000 per month payments began after Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, and were in part meant to repay Cohen for the Daniels payout, Giuliani told the New York Times.
Trump said Giuliani just began work for him on Thursday, and “he'll get his facts straight ” after the American president claimed just 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.
Pressed on his flat-out denial of any knowledge of the payment last month, Trump said the media should “take a look at what I said “.
Addressing reporters aboard Air Force One in April, Trump was asked “Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels? ”
His reply was succinct: “No. ” He further denied any knowledge of where Michael Cohen got the money to make the payment, saying: “No, I don’t know. ”
On Friday, Trump said “virtually everything said has been said incorrectly, and it's been said wrong, or it's been covered wrong by the press “, but he did not elaborate.
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.
Giluiani has insisted Trump did not know about the specifics of the payment Trump made to Cohen until recently, but speculation has mounted that it could nonetheless amount to a campaign finance violation.
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.
“Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the, you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton, ” Giuliani told Fox News, referring to Daniels' allegations. “Cohen didn't even ask. Cohen did his job. ”
The FBI raided Cohen's office and home in April in part to seek records about the Daniels payment.