CBSN

Trump says he was unaware of Stormy Daniels payment

Last Updated Apr 5, 2018 7:40 PM EDT

President Trump on Thursday said he was unaware of lawyer Michael Cohen's $130,000 payment to adult firm star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, in the president's first public comments about the payment. 

Asked if he knew about the $130,000 payment to Daniels, Mr. Trump said, "No. No. What else?"

The president made the comments aboard Air Force One, heading from a roundtable event in West Virginia to Washington, D.C. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump in 2006. Asked why Cohen made the payment if there was no truth to the woman's allegations, Mr. Trump said reporters would "have to ask Michael Cohen." 

"Michael is my attorney. And you'll have to ask Michael Cohen," Mr. Trump said. 

Mr. Trump also claimed he did not know where Cohen obtained the money for the payment. Cohen claims the money came out of his own personal funds. 

In the past, Mr. Trump has ignored questions about the adult film star, who is suing over a nondisclosure agreement that she signed but claims is invalid because Mr. Trump never signed it. 

Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Thursday his client's case "just got that much better" with the president's on-the-record comments. 

"Our case just got that much better," Avenatti said in a statement to CBS News. "And we very much look forward to testing the truthfulness of Mr. Trump's feigned lack of knowledge concerning the $130k payment as he stated on Air Force One. As history teaches us, it is one thing to deceive the press and quite another to do so under oath."

In an interview with MSNBC Thursday, Avenatti said he will try to have the president deposed in the lawsuit, again. A judge denied his first request.

"Absolutely, now more than ever," he told MSNBC.

Avenatti sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday, asking the Treasury Department to release any information it might have about the payment. Avenatti cited a Wall Street Journal report claiming that the bank used by the president's personal lawyer raised concerns about the payment.