Trump claims no knowledge of porn star payment

Ms Stormy Daniels says she was paid to cover up a sexual tryst with Mr Donald Trump over a decade ago.
Ms Stormy Daniels says she was paid to cover up a sexual tryst with Mr Donald Trump over a decade ago.

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has broken a two-month silence about claims he had sex with a porn star, insisting he did not pay her US$130,000 (S$171,000) hush money through his lawyer.

After weeks of dodging questions about the alleged tryst, Mr Trump on Thursday offered a flat "no" when asked if he knew about the payment made in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential election.

Actress Stephanie Clifford - who goes by the screen name Stormy Daniels - claims she got the money to cover up a sexual encounter with Mr Trump more than a decade ago.

The President's long-time lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted to making the payment, and has accused Ms Daniels of breaching a non-disclosure agreement she signed in return.

Last month, Ms Daniels told 21 million TV watchers that she had unprotected sex with Mr Trump after they met at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in July 2006 - shortly after Mr Trump's wife Melania gave birth to their son.

That alleged affair and the suspected cover-up presents a legal and political minefield for Mr Trump, as support among America's evangelical Christians - who make up 25 per cent of the population - was pivotal to his election victory. While the alleged sexual encounter was said to be consensual, the payment to Ms Daniels could constitute an undeclared campaign contribution.

Mr Trump's claim was immediately challenged by Ms Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti. "We very much look forward to testing the truthfulness of Mr Trump's feigned lack of knowledge concerning the US$130k payment," he tweeted. "As history teaches us, it is one thing to deceive the press and quite another to do so under oath."

Mrs Trump has not responded, but her spokesman Stephanie Grisham tweeted: "While I know the media is enjoying speculation & salacious gossip, I'd like to remind people there's a minor child whose name should be kept out of news stories when at all possible."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2018, with the headline 'Trump claims no knowledge of porn star payment'. Print Edition | Subscribe