Trump ‘repaid personal lawyer for payment to Stormy Daniels’
The claim directly contradicts Mr Trump’s past statements.
Donald Trump’s new lawyer has said the president repaid personal attorney Michael Cohen for a 130,000 US dollar (£95,000) payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
During an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Hannity, Mr Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the money to repay Mr Cohen had been “funnelled … through the law firm and the president repaid it”.
Asked if Mr Trump knew about the arrangement, Mr Giuliani said: “He didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know.
“But he did know about the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this, like I take care of things like this for my clients. I don’t burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people.”
Mr Trump told reporters several weeks ago that he did not know about the payment to Ms Daniels as part of a non-disclosure agreement she signed days before the 2016 presidential election.
Asked aboard Air Force One whether he knew about the payment, Mr Trump said flatly: “No.”
Mr Trump also said he did not know why Mr Cohen had made the payment or where he got the money.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Mr Giuliani, who joined Trump’s legal team last month, said the president had repaid Mr Cohen over several months, indicating the payments continued through at least the presidential transition, if not into his presidency.
He also said the payment “is going to turn out to be perfectly legal” because “that money was not campaign money”.
Ms Daniels’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, called the comment “a stunning revelation”.
“Mr Trump evidently has participated in a felony and there must be serious consequences for his conduct and his lies and deception to the American people,” he said.
Mr Giuliani made the statements to Fox host Sean Hannity, who has his own connection to the case.
It was recently revealed in court that Hannity is one of Mr Cohen’s clients.
Hannity has described his personal dealings with Mr Cohen as centred on real estate advice and said that it “never rose to any level that I needed to tell anyone that I was asking him questions”.
Ms Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, says she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 and was paid to keep quiet as part of a nondisclosure agreement she is now seeking to invalidate.
She has also filed a defamation suit against Mr Trump after he questioned a composite sketch she released of a man she says threatened her to stay quiet about the encounter with Mr Trump.
The White House has said Mr Trump denies having a relationship with Ms Daniels.
Mr Cohen’s payment to the president’s accuser in the weeks leading up to the presidential election could be cast as an illegal contribution but not if he were acting on the president’s behest and with his money.
The revelation from Mr Giuliani came as Mr Cohen is under escalating legal pressure. He is facing a criminal investigation in New York and FBI agents raided his home and office several weeks ago.
The FBI was seeking records about the nondisclosure agreement.
Ms Daniels’s lawsuit over the hush deal has been delayed, with the judge citing the criminal investigation under way.