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Trump Says Payment to Stormy Daniels Did Not Violate Campaign Laws
President Trump backed up a surprising announcement by his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said Mr. Trump repaid a $130,000 payment that Michael D. Cohen made to the actress Stephanie Clifford. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Thursday that he paid a monthly retainer to his former lawyer and fixer, suggesting that a payment to a pornographic film actress was not a campaign contribution — comments that appear to contradict his earlier statements that he knew of no such payment to the actress who says she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

The president continues to deny the affair.

In a pair of Twitter posts Thursday morning, Mr. Trump backed up a surprising announcement that came late on Wednesday by the president’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said Mr. Trump repaid a $130,000 payment that his former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, made to the actress Stephanie Clifford just days before the presidential election in 2016. Mr. Giuliani said this removed the question of whether it was a campaign finance violation.

Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA. These agreements are.....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2018

...despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair. Prior to its violation by Ms. Clifford and her attorney, this was a private agreement. Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2018

The president’s new statements about the payment and a nondisclosure agreement with Ms. Clifford, who performs under the name Stormy Daniels, potentially signal a shift in strategy for the legal fight with the actress.

Ms. Clifford is suing Mr. Cohen to try to be released from the nondisclosure agreement. Mr. Cohen is under federal investigation for bank fraud, raising concerns in the president’s inner circle that Mr. Cohen will cooperate with the government.

The president’s tweets on Thursday were far more formal that his usual morning messages to the world, which often include words in all capital letters and are punctuated with exclamation points.

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