he US President Donald Trump repaid his lawyer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 (£95,000) so-called “hush payment” to porn star Stormy Daniels, a member of the US President’s legal team has claimed.
Ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared to contradict the US president during an appearance on Fox News show Hannity, saying the money to repay Mr Cohen had been “funnelled … through the law firm and the president repaid it.”
Mr Trump has previously said that he did not know about the payment, which Ms Daniels claims was made to keep her quiet over an alleged affair.
Asked if the president knew about the arrangement, Mr Giuliani said: “He didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know.”
He added: “But he did know about the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this, like I take care of things like this for my clients.
“I don’t burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people.”
He said that the repayment was made “over a period of several months”.
He added that the payment “is going to turn out to be perfectly legal” because “that money was not campaign money.”
The White House has referred questions to the president’s personal legal team.
Ms Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, called the comment “a stunning revelation.”
“Mr Trump evidently has participated in a felony and there must be serious consequences for his conduct and his lies and deception to the American people,” he said.
Mr Cohen, who has denied the affair between Ms Daniels and Mr Trump, claims he paid the money out of his own pocket.
He has said neither the Trump Organisation nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms Daniels and he was not reimbursed for the payment.
Ms Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, says she had a sexual encounter with Mr Trump in 2006 and was paid to keep quiet as part of a nondisclosure agreement she is now seeking to invalidate with a lawsuit filed in March.
She has also filed a defamation suit against Mr Trump after he questioned a composite sketch she released of a man she says threatened her to stay quiet about the encounter with Mr Trump.
The White House has said Mr Trump denies having a relationship with Ms Daniels.
Mr Cohen’s payment to the president’s accuser in the weeks leading up to the presidential election could be cast as an illegal contribution but not if he were acting on the president’s behest and with his money.
The revelation from Mr Giuliani came as Mr Cohen is under escalating legal pressure. He is facing a criminal investigation in New York and FBI agents raided his home and office several weeks ago. The FBI was seeking records about the nondisclosure agreement.
Ms Daniels’s lawsuit over the hush deal has been delayed, with the judge citing the criminal investigation under way.