Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said Friday that she was not aware of a $130,000 payment to an adult film actress from President Donald Trump’s personal attorney in October, 2016, when Conway was the president’s campaign manager.
“I have never heard about that during the campaign,” Conway told reporters as she walked back inside the White House after a TV hit on Fox News. “I was the campaign manager, a lot crossed my desk and that was not among it.”
Conway declined to say when she first became aware of the payment but said she did not know of it at any point last year. Footage of her brief exchange with reporters aired on CNN.
The payment from Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, to Stormy Daniels has come under increased scrutiny this week after Rudy Giuliani, a member of the president’s outside legal team, told Fox News this week that the president had reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000, contradicting explanations both Cohen and Trump had previously given.
Cohen paid Daniels the $130,000 in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election as part of a nondisclosure agreement related to a one-night sexual encounter the adult film actress claims to have had with the president in 2006. Cohen has said he made the payment without the president’s knowledge and was not reimbursed for it, while Trump told reporters last month that he did not know of the payment.
The payment, which was not reported to the Federal Election Commission, could have legal ramifications for the president if it is deemed to have been made in order to protect the Trump campaign from political damage, in which case it would be considered a political contribution. Giuliani said this week that the payment was made to avoid personal embarrassment for the Trump family, even though the president has continued to deny the affair allegations.
Daniels is suing both Cohen and Trump to be released from the nondisclosure agreement, arguing that the deal is void because it was never signed by Trump. She filed a second lawsuit this week, also against the president, accusing him of defamation over a tweet in which he suggested she had made up a 2011 incident in Las Vegas, where Daniels said a man approached her and her then-infant daughter in a parking lot and warned her to “leave Trump alone” and “forget the story.”