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Trump Denies Knowledge Of Porn Star Hush Money

President Trump says he was unaware that his attorney paid $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election to silence an adult film star who claims she had a sexual relationship with Trump

In this Feb. 11, 2007, file photo, adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives for the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.

President Trump said he was unaware that his attorney paid $130,000 to an adult film actress shortly before the 2016 election to prevent the woman from talking about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump.

The president told reporters traveling on Air Force One Thursday he didn’t know where the money came from or why the payment was made.

“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” Trump said. “Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”

It was the first time Trump had addressed the allegations since the payment from Cohen was first reported by the Wall Street Journal in January.

The actress broke her silence with a 60 Minutes interview that aired last month. Stephanie Clifford, who performs under the stage name Stormy Daniels, told the news magazine she had a sexual encounter with Trump more than a decade ago. She is pursuing legal action against both Trump and Cohen in an effort to win release from a non-disclosure agreement she signed in October 2016.

In a wide-ranging conversation with reporters, Trump also defended his embattled EPA administrator, renewed his criticism of Amazon and offered a few details of his plan to use National Guard troops to help patrol the U.S. border with Mexico.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been under the microscope for various moves, including an apparent sweetheart housing arrangement in an apartment owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist. Trump said he wants to review that situation, but he described Pruitt as “a good man.”

He has used that same phrase to describe others who were subsequently fired, including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and strategist Steve Bannon. Trump also described Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as a good man shortly after Tillerson’s dismissal.

“He’s been very courageous,” Trump said in describing Pruitt’s efforts to roll back much of the Obama administration’s climate agenda. “It hasn’t been easy but I think he’s done a fantastic job.”

Trump spoke while returning to Washington, D.C., from West Virginia, where he said Pruitt is very popular.

“I just left coal and energy country,” Trump said. “They love Scott Pruitt.”

The president said his effort to mobilize the National Guard will likely employ between 2,000 and 4,000 troops, and that he expects Guard troops will remain at the border until work on his proposed border wall is complete. The administration released statistics this week showing a sharp increase in the number of illegal border crossings last month.

Regarding Amazon, Trump complained the Internet retailer is “just not on an even playing field,” but stopped short of saying he would take action against the company.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said.

The president referenced Amazon’s delivery deal with the Postal Service and what he called “the sales tax situation.” Trump has frequently complained that Amazon does not collect sales tax, although it now does so in every state where a sales tax is assessed.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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