President Trump, his attorney Michael Cohen, lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and other close advisers have given vastly different responses over time about Trump’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels and money paid to keep Daniels quiet. Scroll through the timeline below to see how the statements have changed and where Trump’s team has left room for legal maneuvering.

... Cohen denies report alleging

a Trump affair ...

... with

Stormy

Daniels.

On behalf

of Trump,

his client ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

... Cohen denies report alleging

a Trump affair ...

... with

Stormy

Daniels.

On behalf

of Trump,

his client ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

October 2011

Totally untrue and ridiculous.”

Michael Cohen, Trump lawyer

After a blog called the Dirty and the supermarket tabloid Life & Style published the first reports of an affair involving Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford), Cohen dismisses the rumor in a statement to E! News.

... Cohen denies report alleging $130K hush payment ...

... to an

adult film actress.

On behalf

of Trump,

his client ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

... Cohen denies report alleging $130K hush payment ...

... to an

adult film actress.

On behalf

of Trump,

his client ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

Jan. 12, 2018

President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence.”

Michael Cohen

When the Wall Street Journal reports that Cohen arranged a $130,000 payment to silence Daniels shortly before Election Day 2016, Trump’s lawyer neither confirms nor denies the payment but asserts that the underlying rumor of an affair is untrue.

Skirting the issue of repayment from Trump himself ...

... Cohen admits

he paid a

$130K hush

payment ...

... to an

adult film actress.

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

... Cohen admits

he paid a $130K

hush payment ...

... to an

adult film actress.

Skirting the issue of repayment from Trump himself, ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

Feb. 13, 2018

I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford. Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction ... and neither reimbursed me.”

Michael Cohen

Cohen acknowledges the payment to Daniels for the first time in a statement to the New York Times. The statement is notable for its careful wording; Cohen says he was not reimbursed by Trump’s campaign or business but says nothing about Trump himself.

Feb. 22, 2018

I haven’t asked him about it.”

Raj Shah, deputy White House press secretary

Asked during a media briefing whether the president knew about Cohen’s payment to Daniels at the time it was made in October 2016, Shah does not say no; he says that he and Trump have not discussed the subject.

March 5, 2018

Not that I’m aware of.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary

This is Sanders’s response when she is asked during a media briefing whether Trump and Cohen have discussed the payment to Daniels “at any time during the campaign or thereafter.” Sanders does not say no; she simply says she is unaware of any such conversation.

... to an

adult film actress.

Sanders confirms

that Trump was a party ...

... to litigation around the Cohen payment ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

... to litigation

around the Cohen

payment ...

... to an

adult film actress.

Sanders confirms that Trump was

a party...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

March 7, 2018

I can share that the arbitration was won in the president’s favor.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

This statement by Sanders during a media briefing includes a big admission. Sanders is referring to a private arbitrator’s ruling that Daniels must comply with the nondisclosure agreement she signed. The ruling was indeed a victory for Trump, but Cohen had previously said that “neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction.” Cohen hadn’t said whether Trump himself was a party to the transaction; Sanders’s statement confirms that Trump was.

... to an

adult film actress.

Without addressing repayment ...

... Cohen explains how he paid the $130K hush payment ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

... to an

adult film actress.

Without addressing repayment from Trump ...

... Cohen explains how he paid the $130K

hush payment ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

March 9, 2018

The funds were taken from my home equity line.”

Michael Cohen

In a statement to ABC News, Cohen reiterates that the funds used to pay Daniels were his own. He neglects again to address possible reimbursement by Trump, however.

... to an

adult film actress.

Cohen’s lawyer says Trump was not aware ...

... of the $130K hush payment ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

... of the

$130K hush

payment ...

... to an

adult film actress.

Cohen’s lawyer

says Trump was

not aware ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

March 28, 2018

The president was not aware of the agreement. At least Michael Cohen never told him about the agreement.”

David Schwartz, Cohen lawyer

Appearing on CNN, Cohen’s attorney finally offers a direct answer to the lingering question of whether Trump knew about the payment to Daniels at the time it was made.

... to an

adult film actress.

Cohen’s lawyer says Trump was not aware ...

... of the $130K hush payment ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

... of the

$130K hush

payment ...

... to an

adult film actress.

Cohen’s lawyer

says Trump was

not aware ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

March 29, 2018

Hundred percent.”

David Schwartz

This is Schwartz’s response when NBC’s Megyn Kelly asks, “Michael Cohen dispensed $130,000 of his own money and never sought reimbursement from Donald Trump?” Because Kelly asked whether Cohen “sought” reimbursement, Schwartz’s answer leaves open the possibility that Cohen repaid himself through some kind of fund that Trump might have established for his fixer to solve problems at Cohen’s own discretion.

April 5, 2018

____.”

President Trump

Fielding questions from reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump is silent when asked whether he had created a fund that Cohen could use to cover payments such as the one to Daniels. The president does say he did not know about the payment at the time it was made, and that he did not know where the money Cohen used had come from.

Trump

says ...

... Cohen represented him in the ...

... Daniels

matter.

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

Trump

says ...

... Cohen represented him in the ...

... Daniels

matter.

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

April 26, 2018

Michael would represent me and represent me on some things. He represents me — like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me.”

President Trump

The president’s remarks on “Fox & Friends” perhaps betrays contemporaneous knowledge of Cohen’s payment to Daniels. Daniels’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, quickly contends that Trump has made a “hugely damning admission.” It is also possible, however, that Trump’s statement about Cohen representing him in the Daniels matter is based on knowledge Trump gained after the deal was reported in the media.

... Cohen denies report alleging $130K hush payment ...

... to an

adult film actress.

On behalf

of Trump,

his client ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

... the $130K

hush payment that Cohen made ...

... to an

adult film actress.

Giuliani

says Trump

reimbursed ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

May 2, 2018

The president reimbursed that over a period of several months.”

Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump lawyer

Appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, Giuliani makes the first public admission that Trump did pick up the tab for the $130,000 payment to Daniels. Giuliani says the president paid back Cohen through a $35,000 monthly retainer, which effectively served as the kind of emergency fund Trump had previously declined to address. Giuliani also says Trump did not know the “specifics” of Cohen’s payment to Daniels, at the time it was made, but “did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this.”

... Cohen denies report alleging $130K hush payment ...

... to an

adult film actress.

On behalf

of Trump,

his client ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

... the $130K

hush payment that Cohen made ...

... to an

adult film actress.

Giuliani

says Trump

reimbursed ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

May 4, 2018

The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the president’s family. It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not.”

Rudolph W. Giuliani

This is essentially a revival of the successful defense used by John Edwards when the former Democratic presidential candidate was indicted on campaign finance charges stemming from payments to a woman with whom he had an affair: Giuliani’s apparent goal is to establish that the money initially paid by Cohen was not an in-kind campaign contribution because it was about protecting the family from public anguish, not about influencing voters.

Giuliani hedges

when he says

Trump did not ...

... direct

Cohen in

advance ...

... to pay

Stormy

Daniels.

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

... direct

Cohen in

advance ...

... to pay

Stormy

Daniels.

Giuliani hedges when he says Trump did not ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

July 8, 2018

As far as I know, from his original statements, and the president’s statements, and everything I’ve seen in terms of documents ... the president did not originally know.”

Rudolph W. Giuliani

Speaking on ABC news, Giuliani appears appears to hedge his answer with an “as far as I know” when asked whether Trump knew in advance about the payment to Stormy Daniels. The Trump team has said several times that the president had no knowledge of the payment before it was made. Giuliani then adds a curious justification for if Trump did know beforehand: “Even if he had, that would not necessarily be anything. ... That’s something you settle because you don’t want your family to be embarrassed.”

... Cohen says

he paid

hush money ...

... to an

adult film actress.

‘In coordination’ with Trump ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

... to an

adult film actress.

... Cohen says

he paid hush money ...

‘In coordination’ with Trump ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

August 21, 2018

In coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office . . . I participated in this conduct . . . for the principal purpose of influencing the election.”

Michael Cohen

As part of a plea deal in front of a grand jury in New York, Cohen acknowledged that he worked to silence two women ‘in coordination’ with Trump to influence 2016 election. The details he described matched payments made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels.

... the $130K hush payment that

Cohen made ...

... to an

adult film actress.

Cohen says President Trump repaid ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

... the $130K

hush payment that Cohen made ...

... to an

adult film actress.

Cohen says

President Trump reimbursed ...

PRESIDENT

Trump

Michael Cohen

stormy

daniels

February 27, 2019

Mr. Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaignThe president of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws.”

Michael Cohen

In testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Cohen alleged Trump directed him to make the hush money payments. He provided a copy of a check that he said showed Trump reimbursing the payment after he became president. “This $35,000 check was one of 11 check installments that was paid throughout the year — while he was president,” he said.

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Armand Emamdjomeh and Manas Sharma contributed to this report.

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Staff reports. Trump photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post, Cohen by Mary Altaffer/AP, Daniels by Ethan Miller/Getty. Dollar icon by Gregor Cresnar at the Noun Project. Originally published May 3, 2018.

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