On Tuesday the White House tried to suggest President Trump was too busy to tweet about Stormy Daniels, as he spent the day tucked away from reporters, with scheduled meetings in the Oval Office.
‘Look, I didn’t say he punches back on every single topic,’ Huckabee Sanders said in the press briefing when asked if Trump’s challenging the veracity of the porn star’s story, why he hasn’t taken her on. ‘He also has a country to run and he’s doing a great job with that,’ the Trump spokeswoman added.
The president has been uncharacteristically quiet since Daniels’ appearance on 60 Minutes Sunday night, tweeting just once on Tuesday, and keeping the day’s schedule free of public events.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued on Tuesday that President Trump ‘has a country to run,’ which is why he hasn’t tweeted about the 60 Minutes interview featuring porn actress Stormy Daniels, in which she alleged having sex with him in 2006
President Trump, who didn’t answer questions when he returned to D.C. Sunday night from Mar-a-Lago, has spent two days in the Oval Office in meetings, according to his schedule, and also has largely avoided Twitter
President Trump tiptoed toward a response to the Stormy Daniels news by sending out this tweet Monday morning as her attorney was doing the morning show rounds
Porn star Stormy Daniels’ first interview aired Sunday night on 60 minutes. The adult film actress claimed she had consensual sex with Donald Trump in 2006, while he was married to Melania Trump
Tonight he’s slated to meet with supporters at a private residence in Washington, D.C., where he’ll be followed by his press pool, meaning journalists could get their first crack at asking Trump questions since the interview aired.
At Tuesday’s briefing, Huckabee Sanders was first asked if the silence was a new White House strategy.
‘Look, the president has still been incredibly engaged,’ the press secretary argued. ‘He gives us messages to come out and deliver on his behalf on the regular basis, but he’s also put out a number of tweets over the last week and I think you can expect he’ll continue to do that.’
If that was the case, another reporter asked, what did the president want the public to know about the topic of Daniels?
‘As I just said, and as we’ve addressed on a number of times, the president has denied these allegations and I don’t have anything further to add on that front,’ Huckabee Sanders said.
Later in the briefing, the press secretary decided that she objected to the greater premise of the question: that Trump hasn’t responded.
‘I don’t think it’s silent when the president has addressed this, we’ve addressed this extensively, there’s just nothing else to add,’ she said. ‘Just because you guys continue to ask the same question over and over and over again doesn’t mean we have to keep coming up with new things to say.’
‘We’ve addressed it, we’ve addressed it extensively, and there’s nothing new to add,’ she repeated.
On Monday, the White House’s Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah took a swing at trying to quash the Daniels-related queries by reading a statement.
‘With respect to that interview, the president strongly, clearly and has consistently denied these underlying claims and the only person who has been inconsistent is the one making the claims,’ Shah said.
Shah was then asked questions about the $130,000 hush money payment, answering he would only speak for the White House when addressing that.
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said Monday that, ‘the president strongly, clearly and has consistently denied these underlying claims,’ when asked by a reporter about the claims made by porn star Stormy Daniels on 60 Minutes Sunday night
‘Obviously, the White House didn’t engage in any wrongdoing,’ Shah said.
The payment was exchanged in October 2016, weeks before Trump won the presidential election and months before he moved into the White House.
‘The campaign or Mr. Cohen can address anything with respect to their actions,’ Shah added, as he tried to characterize the payment made to Daniels by the Trump lawyer as pedestrian.
‘False charges are settled out of court all the time, this is nothing outside the ordinary,’ the deputy press secretary said.
Shah wouldn’t say whether Trump watched the interview live, though noted that ‘the president doesn’t believe that any of the claims Ms. Daniels made last night in the interview were accurate,’ including that an associate of the billionaire had made a physical threat to the adult film actress, while she was with her infant daughter heading into an exercise class.
‘There’s nothing to corroborate her claim,’ Shah said when asked by a reporter why the president didn’t believe Daniels was threatened.
The White House spokesman was also asked why the president has never uttered a word about the scandal himself.
‘Well, that will be up to the president,’ Shah said of Trump’s decision to address it.
The president hinted that he had watched some of the clips, tweeting Monday morning, ‘So much Fake News. Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate.’
‘But through it all, our country is doing great!’ Trump said.
The president has consistently used a spokesman to deny claims made by Daniels.
In the original story on the hush money payment, published January 12 by the Wall Street Journal, a White House official said Trump’s denial was already a done deal.
Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said Monday morning that President Trump should just ‘let it go’ and not publicly respond to the allegations porn star Stormy Daniels made in Sunday night’s 60 Minutes interview
President Trump (left) is pictured with porn star Stormy Daniels (right) in 2006, when the alleged sexual incident occurred. Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti told the Today show Monday that she was ‘prepared to discuss intimate details relating to Mr Trump’
Stormy Daniels (right) told Anderson Cooper (left) that she spanked the now-president when they first met, and that a man threatened her back in 2011 after she spoke to a tabloid magazine about the alleged affair with Donald Trump
‘There are old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election,’ an unnamed official told the newspaper.
Another denial of Trump’s came via Cohen.
‘President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence as has Ms. Daniels,’ Cohen said.
He didn’t deny the payment at the time, though later admitted to making the transfer.
Daniels, in her interview with 60 Minutes, explained she had signed off on a statement denying the affair this year ‘because they made it sound like I had no choice.’
She told Cooper that because she had signed the non-disclosure agreement, if she didn’t sign the statement she was concerned she would be in legal peril.
‘As a matter of fact, the exact sentence used was, “They can make your life hell in many different ways,”‘ Daniels said she was told.
During his rounds on morning television Monday, Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti also pointed out that Trump has never personally denied the relationship.
‘Well actually, the president has never denied it. He’s been silent. He can tweet on every other subject known to mankind. For some reason, he can’ deny the affair,’ Avenatti said.
‘He can’t come out and deny the existence of the agreement and his knowledge of it. And can’t deny the $130,000 payment. Why is that?’ Daniels’ lawyer also challenged.
When reporters asked Trump about the interview as he was traveling back to Washington, D.C., Sunday night he ignored their questions.
Trump is being told to keep his mouth closed, as advisers think it’s not a good look for a president to be in a public he-said, she-said with a porn star, according to reporting from the Wall Street Journal.
On CNN Monday, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci expressed just that.
‘Well, listen, I haven’t talked to him about this specific strategy here, but I think the best thing to do here, and if I was offering any advice: Let it go, at this point, and move on,’ Scaramucci said. ‘Let the news cycle create another news cycle and it will be different information out there.’
The Mooch also suggested that even if the president had a decade-old extramarital liaison with an adult film actress, it’s not such a big deal in 2018.
‘I think there will be less fallout than people think because people have been anesthetized to these sort of scandals, it goes all the way back to President Clinton,’ Scaramucci said. ‘So to me, I think that, we’ll talk about it, there will be another news cycle and then people will move on, that’s my prediction.’
Over on Fox & Friends Monday morning, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley wasn’t even asked about it.
In his series of morning show interviews, Avenatti hinted things could get worse for the president.
The 60 Minutes interview, for instance, could have been tawdrier.
‘She was prepared to discuss intimate details relating to Mr. Trump,’ the porn star’s lawyer said. ‘She can describe his genitalia. She can describe various conversations that they had that leave no doubt as to whether this woman is telling the truth.’
‘And if she’s not telling the truth, let the president take to the podium and call her a liar,’ the lawyer continued. ‘Let the president come forward and say it never happened.’
While Shah used a lack of evidence to make his case from the White House podium, Avenatti had already indicated on Good Morning America that there could be some coming down the pipeline.
‘We’re in the very early stages of this case, and we’re not gonna play all of our cards at this juncture. No good attorney would,’ said Avenatti.
‘There’s gonna be a lot of evidence that will come to light in the coming weeks and months and we’re confident that when all of the facts are laid bare for the American people they’re gonna learn exactly what happened here,’ the lawyer said.
Porn star Stormy Daniels was given $130,000 in hush money by President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen (pictured) weeks before the 2016 presidential election
This could include the identity of the individual who approached Daniels in 2011 in Las Vegas as she was on the verge of going public with her story in a sister publication to In Touch Weekly.
Daniels explained to Cooper during her 60 Minutes interview that she was approached by a man while with her young daughter.
‘And a guy walked up on me and said to me, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.” And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.” And then he was gone,’ Daniels said.
She said, seven years later, she’d still be able to recognize him.
‘If he walked in this door right now, I would instantly know,’ Daniels told Cooper.
Avenatti charged Monday morning, ‘It had to come from someone associated with Mr. Trump.’
‘It didn’t come from the magazine. That makes no sense. It was certainly not my client. There’s only one other place that could have come from. And that threat was terrifying to my client,’ the lawyer said.
Daniels told 60 Minutes she didn’t go to the police after the threat because she was scared.
More details about the $130,000 payment could come out too.
‘I think when all is said and done, it will be clear that it did not come from [Cohen] or there was a promise of reimbursement,’ Avenatti said, suggesting that President Trump was more heavily involved.
Cohen has said that he made the payment using his own funds and acted independently from the then-presidential candidate.
‘Regardless, Mr. Cohen and the president have a significant problem related to this $130,000 and the agreement,’ Avenatti charged.
Daniels’ lawyer also sounded confident that his client could get out of the non-disclosure agreement she signed and avoid a potential $20 million fine for speaking out.
‘Our position is that the NDA was never executed and it was never valid for a host of reasons and we’re confident that a court is going to find that,’ Avenatti said.
She said in the interview that she had one encounter of consensual sex with the future president.
‘He knows I’m telling the truth,’ said Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford.
She did not allege however that she was coerced into the encounter with the real estate scion, saying, ‘This is not a “me too.” I was not a victim.’
Daniels said her night with Trump began with him talking about himself and showing her an issue of a magazine with his picture on the cover.
‘Does this normally work for you?’ Daniels said she told the then-reality TV star.
That threw Trump off guard she claimed, going on to explain: ‘And I was like, “Someone should take that magazine and spank you with it.”‘
Daniels then ordered Trump to drop his pants and ‘gave him a couple swats’ in playful manner she said to Cooper.
She said they talked some more after that and that she became more comfortable when he stopped speaking about himself.
‘He was like, “Wow, you – you are special. You remind me of my daughter.” You know – he was like, “You’re smart and beautiful, and a woman to be reckoned with, and I like you. I like you,”‘ said Daniels.
The pair had dinner in Trump’s room she said and then had sex.
He didn’t use a condom, she said, and she didn’t ask him to. Afterward, he asked to see her again, she said.
Daniels said that before they had sex Trump had broached the idea of her being a contestant on The Apprentice, and she likened it to a ‘business opportunity.’
After the alleged tryst she said he called her several times and would ask if they could get together again and would claim that he had an update for her about the Apprentice.
She said she felt that he was holding out the opportunity to keep her coming back.
‘Of course. I mean, I’m not blind. But at the same time, maybe it’ll work out, you know?’ said Daniels.
In July 2007, a year after they had met, Daniels said Trump asked to meet with her privately at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles. She said they did not have sex, but he wanted to.
Daniels reported that Trump called her the following month to say he had not been able to get her a spot on his TV show. She said they never met again.
When asked why she was deciding to speak now, Daniels said: ‘Because it was very important to me to be able to defend myself.’
She said she was not all that bothered by what other people thought of her, but had a big issuer with being portrayed as someone who did not tell the truth.
‘I’m not OK with being made out to be a liar, or people thinking that I did this for money and people are like, “Oh, you’re an opportunist. You’re taking advantage of this,”‘ said Daniels.
‘Yes, I’m getting more job offers now, but tell me one person who would turn down a job offer making more than they’ve been making, doing the same thing that they’ve always done?’
Cooper noted during the interview that Melania Trump had given birth just a few months before the alleged encounter between the two.
‘Did he mention his wife or child at all in this?’ asked Cooper.
‘I asked. And he brushed it aside, said, “Oh yeah, yeah, you know, don’t worry about that. We don’t even, we have separate rooms and stuff,” said Daniels.
Just a few days prior, former Playboy model Karen McDougal told Cooper in a CNN interview that her affair with Trump began at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2006. McDougal said she ended the relationship in 2007 out of guilt.
McDougal has filed suit in Los Angeles seeking to invalidate a confidentiality agreement with American Media Inc., the company that owns the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer. It paid her $150,000 during the 2016 presidential election.
The lawsuit alleges that McDougal was paid for the rights to her story of an affair, but the story never ran. It also alleges that Cohen was secretly involved in her discussions with American Media.
Trump is also facing a New York defamation lawsuit filed by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice.
Zervos has accused Trump of unwanted sexual contact in 2007 after she had appeared on the show with him, and sued after he dismissed the claims as made up.
A judge ruled the lawsuit can move forward while the president is in office.