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White House reporters confront Sanders: Why should Americans still believe Trump?
White House reporters confronted press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday, asking why the American public should continue to believe anything that President Trump says.
The questions come less than 24 hours after Rudy Giuliani revealed in an interview with Fox News that Trump had reimbursed his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 payment made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels. The money was reportedly paid to Daniels to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the president.
Correspondents for several outlets noted that Giuliani's revelation of the reimbursement directly contradicted past statements made by both Trump and Sanders, who have denied knowing about the payment.
Sanders said during the briefing that she first learned of Trump reimbursing Cohen for the payment during Giuliani's interview on Fox News the night before.
"Could you explain why the president, when he spoke, when he answered the questions from reporters a few weeks ago about the $130,000 payment from Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels, why the president was not truthful with the American people and with the people in this room?" The Associated Press's Zeke Miller asked.
ABC News's Jon Karl similarly pushed Sanders on Trump's conflicting statements.
"Can I ask you when the president so often says things that turn out not to be true, when the president or the White House show what appears to be a blatant disregard of the truth, how are the American people to trust or believe what is said here or what is said by the president?" Karl asked.
Karl also cited other statements made by Trump that were later debunked, like his past denial of a New York Times report that White House lawyer Ty Cobb would leave and be replaced by former President Clinton's impeachment lawyer, Emmet Flood. That staffing change was announced on Wednesday.
Sanders responded to both reporters by saying that Trump wasn't initially aware of the payments made by Cohen, but that he "eventually learned" about the information.
"We give the best information we have at the time. I do that every single day and will continue to do that every day under this position," Sanders said.
CNN's Jim Acosta challenged Sanders about past statements she had made to reporters, claiming that Trump did not know of any payment made to Daniels.
"You said on March 7 there was no knowledge of any payment from the president and he's denied all these allegations. Were you lying to us at the time or were you in the dark?" he asked.
Sanders said that Trump has "continued to deny the underlying claim" that Daniels had affair with the president.
"Again, I've given the best information I had at the time," she added, referring back to Giuliani's comments about the reimbursement.
"The White House press office wouldn't coordinate with the president's outside legal team on legal strategy," Sanders said in response to a question by CNN correspondent April Ryan, who asked why the communications staff wasn't aware of the reimbursement.
"You said yourself you were blindsided," Ryan said - a characterization Sanders pushed back on.
"With all due respect, you don't know much about me in terms of what I feel and what I don't," Sanders replied.
Giuliani told The Washington Post earlier Thursday that Trump was aware that he was going to speak publicly about the payment.
The president also addressed the payment in a series of tweets early Thursday, saying that Cohen received a monthly retainer "from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA."