President Donald Trump did not know private attorney Michael Cohen made a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels when he told reporters that aboard Air Force One last month, "but eventually learned" about it, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday.
"This was information that the president didn't know at the time but eventually learned," she said at the daily briefing.
Returning from an April 5 roundtable on tax reform in West Virginia, Trump flatly said "no" when reporters asked aboard the presidential jet about the Daniels payment.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Sean Hannity on Fox News on Wednesday that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 he paid Daniels to prevent her claims about an affair with Trump in 2006 ago from becoming public.
The payment was made weeks before the November 2016 election, and both Giuliani and Trump — via Twitter — said Thursday that the funds did not come from campaign contributions.
"I don't think there is any contradiction of that," Giuliani told "Fox & Friends" on Thursday. "That's what I said last night.
"People were indeed surprised, which is why I think this is a tweet [that is] very valuable."
Sanders told reporters she first learned of the Trump payment during Giuliani's Hannity interview — and she beat back questions from reporters on whether the president, herself, and the White House were honest with the media and the American people.
"The first awareness I had was during an interview last night," Sanders said, adding later: "We give the very best information that we have at the time.
"I do that every single day and will continue to do that every day I'm in this position."
Badgered again on the honesty issue — but now under the guise she might not be forthcoming to keep herself from legal jeopardy, Sanders responded: "I would always advise against giving false information, as a person of human decency.
"I'm giving the best information I have," she reiterated. "Some information I'm aware of and some I'm not."
In addition, Sanders said she could not confirm Giuliani's disclosure to "Fox & Friends" that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was expected to release three Americans detained in the coming hours.
"We can't confirm the validity of any of the reports on their release," Sanders said. "We certainly would see this as a sign of goodwill if North Korea were to release the three Americans ahead of discussions between President Trump and Kim Jong Un."
Sanders also reiterated President Trump was right to fire James Comey last year after Comey on Thursday slammed Giuliani, who said the former FBI director should be investigated for lying and for comparing agents to Nazi "stormtroopers."
"Every single day we see he's made the right decision in firing James Comey," she said. "Certainly, James Comey was fired for lying, leaking and politicizing the FBI.
"The president has been, I think, repeatedly day after day been proven to be exactly right in his decision to fire James Comey."
Giuliani's revelations about the Daniels payment dominated Thursday's briefing, with one reporter asking whether President Trump felt he was above the law — "no," Sanders replied — in choosing to meet with North Korea's Kim over sitting for an interview with Russia special counsel Robert Mueller.
"I certainly think that the president feels like stopping a nuclear war and helping protect the safety and security of people across the globe would certainly be the No. 1 priority of the president of the United States," she said.
"Certainly, I would think that would be the priority that most Americans would share and support the president doing."
Sanders also snapped back at questions from April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, who said she was "blindsided" by Giuliani's Hannity comments.
"The White House Press Office wouldn't coordinate with the president's outside legal team or legal strategy," she said about whether they knew Giuliani's remarks were coming.
"You said 'blindsided,'" Ryan said.
"I didn't use that term," Sanders shot back.
"Well, I said it, but you were blindsided by what you said?" Ryan retorted.
"With all due respect," the press secretary said, "you don't know much about me in terms of what I feel and what I don't."
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