As the Stormy Daniels saga gets even more tangled, President Donald Trump is reportedly wishing press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would do a better job keeping his story straight.
At Wednesday's press conference, Sanders fielded questions about the civil suit Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, filed against the president, alleging that the nondisclosure agreement she signed in the days approaching the 2016 election is void because Trump neglected to sign it.
Sanders told reporters that the "arbitration was won in the president's favor," effectively conceding for the first time that Trump had any involvement with Clifford. She also revealed that Trump, to her knowledge, had no idea his lawyer Michael Cohen had paid Clifford a reported $130,000 in hush money out of his own pocket.
Later, sources told CNN that the president was "very unhappy" with Sanders' response, and said on Thursday: "Sarah gave the Stormy Daniels storyline steroids yesterday."
The White House has been reached for comment.
But if Trump was hoping to keep his legal embroilment with Daniels out of the news, it's already too late. Word of Trump's alleged affair with Daniels, and the lengths his legal counsel went to keep the adult film actress quiet ahead of the presidential election, has dominated headlines for weeks. Daniels' latest suit suggests that won't change anytime soon.
In addition to declaring her NDA "invalid" and "unenforceable," the suit reiterated key details about the president's alleged romantic entanglement with Daniels, claiming she began an "intimate relationship" with Trump for roughly a year between the summer of 2006 and "well into 2007."
Up until Wednesday, the White House's hardline stance on the issue, which has quickly bubbled into another scandal for an administration in near-constant turmoil, had been that the president was never involved in any way with Daniels.
Sanders' response to reporters appears to have unwittingly shed that line of defense, and it may have been for naught: When Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, got wind of Sanders' insistence that Trump "won" the arbitration, he dismissed it as a lie, largely because it doesn't seem the president was even part of the arbitration to which the press secretary referred.
"Yeah, and he won the popular vote, too," Avenatti said in a statement on Wednesday. "President Trump hasn’t won anything relating to Ms. Clifford.
"How can you win something you’re not even a part of?" he continued. "Secondly, claiming that Mr. Trump ‘won’ at arbitration when there has been no hearing, no notice to Ms. Clifford, no opportunity given to her to respond, and no decision on the merits, is completely bogus."
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