White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Tuesday defended President Donald Trump’s silence on allegations leveled against him by porn star Stormy Daniels, maintaining that while the President is a “counter-puncher,” he doesn’t necessarily punch back at every story.
Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, has saturated the news in recent days, after Anderson Cooper interviewed her over her alleged affair with Trump on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” Trump so far declined to respond to her on Twitter or otherwise, a rarity for a President who rarely holds back.
Sanders said even though she has previously described Trump as a “counter-puncher,” she didn’t say he “punches back on every single topic.”
“If he did he would probably be addressing a lot of the stories that most of you write every single minute of every single day,” Sanders told reporters. “He also has a country to run. And he is doing a great job with that. … Sometimes he chooses to specifically engage and punch back and sometimes he doesn’t.”
Trump’s terse Twitter persona has targeted everyone from Rosie O’Donnell and the cast of Hamilton to his political enemies and one-time friends. But the President has been advised that lashing out on the Daniels story will only make it worse, a tact he is also taking with Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who recently recounted in a CNN interview the details of what she alleges was a lengthy affair with the then-businessman.
Trump has denied both women’s claims.
Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ attorney, said Tuesday that Trump isn’t commenting on the allegations because he knows his client is telling the truth.
“Why we haven’t heard from the President as to these allegations is really beyond me,” Avenatti told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” “I think the reason why he refuses to do that is clear and that is because my client is telling the truth, and he knows it.”
Daniels, in her interview with “60 Minutes,” alleged that shortly after she tried to sell her story about her alleged affair with the now-President, a man approached her in the parking lot of a fitness center.
“And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,’ ” Daniels said. “And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone.”
Daniels, as part of a hush agreement, was paid $130,000 by Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen days before the 2016 election. Daniels said she was risking a $1 million fine for potentially violating her nondisclosure agreement “because it was very important to me to be able to defend myself.”
Sanders once again denied the allegations leveled by Daniels, but declined to get into the details of the porn star’s allegations or the payoff she received.
“That is a question you would have to ask the President’s attorney,” Sanders said. “I certainly cannot speak for him. I can only speak on behalf of the White House.”
Pushed on the matter, Sanders stood her ground and declined to comment.
“The President has denied the allegations,” Sanders said. “Anything beyond that I would refer you to the outside counsel and his attorney.”
CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report