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Trump denies changing story on porn star payoff

AFP , Friday 4 May 2018
Trump and Daniels
Combined photo showing US President Donald Trump and adult performer Stormy Daniels.
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An angry Donald Trump dismissed a growing storm over a hush money payment to an adult movie star as "crap" Friday, as he denied changing his story on the scandal.

After months of claiming he knew nothing of the $130,000 his personal lawyer paid the porn actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges an affair with Trump, the president changed tack this week, admitting he reimbursed his attorney Michael Cohen for the payment.

The president's admission followed the revelation by Rudy Giuliani -- the former New York mayor and new recruit to Trump's legal team -- that the president repaid the sum, intended to stop what Trump called "false and extortionist accusations" against him.

But on Friday the president denied this amounted to a U-turn -- while saying Giuliani still needed to get "his facts straight."

"I'm not changing any stories," he told reporters as he left Washington on a trip to Dallas.

"All I'm telling is you that this country is right now running so smooth. And to be bringing up that kind of crap, and to be bringing up witch hunts all the time -- that's all you want to talk about," Trump said.

"You take a look at what I said," he added. "You'll see what I said."

Trump added that Giuliani was still getting up to speed.

"When Rudy made the statement -- Rudy is great -- but Rudy had just started, and he wasn't totally familiar with every -- you know, with everything," Trump said.

"And Rudy -- we love Rudy, he's a special guy. What he really understands is that this is a witch hunt."

Speaking moments earlier Trump also sought to explain away his attorney's statement, saying: "He started yesterday. He'll get his facts straight. He's a great guy."

Cohen made the payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, just before the 2016 election to prevent her from going public with claims she had an affair with Trump a decade earlier.

There had been suggestions it could have fallen foul of campaign finance laws, as an undeclared contribution aimed at preventing negative press for the candidate.

Giuliani has argued that the fact Trump reimbursed the sum should remove any suspicion of campaign finance violation.

Asked by reporters on Air Force One earlier this month about the transaction, Trump said: "You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You'll have to ask Michael," he said.

Pressed on whether he knew where Cohen got the money to make the payment, he said: "No, I don't know. No."

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