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Trump Says Payment to Stormy Daniels Did Not Violate Campaign Laws 

click to enlarge President Donald Trump speaks to reporters aboard Air Force One as he heads back to Washington following a trip to West Virginia, on Thursday, April 5, 2018. Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer, for a $130,000 payment that Cohen has said he made to keep a pornographic film actress from going public before the 2016 election with her story about an affair with Trump, according to Rudolph Giuliani, one of the president’s lawyers. - DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES
  • Doug Mills/The New York Times
  • President Donald Trump speaks to reporters aboard Air Force One as he heads back to Washington following a trip to West Virginia, on Thursday, April 5, 2018. Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer, for a $130,000 payment that Cohen has said he made to keep a pornographic film actress from going public before the 2016 election with her story about an affair with Trump, according to Rudolph Giuliani, one of the president’s lawyers.

By EILEEN SULLIVAN, MATT APUZZO and MAGGIE HABERMAN
© 2018 New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday directly contradicted his earlier statements that he knew of no payment to Stormy Daniels, the pornographic film actress who says she had an affair with Trump.

Trump said he paid a monthly retainer to his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, and suggested that the payment by Cohen to the actress could not be considered a campaign contribution.

The president’s comments reiterated an explosive announcement late Wednesday by one of his recently hired attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, who said on Fox News that the president reimbursed Cohen for the payment to actress Stephanie Clifford, who performs as Stormy Daniels. Though Giuliani described his interview as part of a strategy, the disclosure caught several Trump advisers by surprise.

In three Twitter posts Thursday morning, the president repeated some of what Giuliani said a day earlier, specifically that Trump repaid a $130,000 payment Cohen made to Clifford just days before the presidential election in 2016.

Giuliani and Trump said this removed the question of whether it was a campaign finance violation. Trump also continued to deny the affair.

“Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA,” Trump wrote. “These agreements are very common among celebrities and people of wealth. 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. Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.”

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said Thursday that she could not comment on the president’s legal strategy. In comments on “Fox & Friends,” she referred viewers to Giuliani’s remarks and the president’s tweets.
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