No clear answer from White House on whether Trump knew of 2016 payment to porn star

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With President Donald Trump facing a new lawsuit from a porn star who says she was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about their past relationship, the White House again denied the allegations, but left unanswered whether Mr. Trump knew about the pre-election payment that was made by his personal lawyer in October of 2016.

“Did the President approve of the payment that was made in October 2016 by his longtime lawyer and adviser, Michael Cohen?” asked reporter Jeff Zeleny of CNN, as reporters bored in on the issue of the $130,000 payment.

“The President has addressed these directly and made very well clear that none of these allegations are true,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“When did the President address specifically the cash payment that was made in October 2016,” Zeleny pressed.

“The President has denied the allegations against him,” Sanders replied.

“Did he know about the payment at the time?” Zeleny asked.

“Not that I’m aware of,” Sanders said.

The comments came a day after lawyers for Stormy Daniels – whose real name is Stephanie Clifford – asked a federal court in California to declare a that a ‘hush agreement’ between her and the President was not valid, because he never signed it.

“To be clear, the attempts to intimidate Ms. Clifford into silence and “shut her up” in order to “protect Mr. Trump” continue unabated,” the lawsuit stated, pointing the finger directly at Mr. Trump’s private lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Cohen has already acknowledged that he paid the money to Clifford.

“In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford,” Cohen said in a statement issued three weeks ago. “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction.

Democrats said it amounted to a violation of federal election law.

At the White House briefing on Tuesday afternoon, the Press Secretary was forced to navigate questions about the relationship several times, repeatedly saying that Mr. Trump denied the allegations of a relationship.

“There was no knowledge of any payments from the President,” Sanders said.

“I’ve addressed this as far as I can go,” Sanders said at one point, directly reporters to Cohen.

On Capitol Hill, there were Republicans taking notice.

“I think it’s troubling at many different levels and we ought to call it as such,” Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) told reporters.