Trump does not take questions as he departs for weekend

President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE didn’t take questions from reporters on Friday as he departed Washington, D.C., for the weekend, amid fallout from his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and a bombshell report that his personal lawyer secretly recorded a conversation with Trump about a payment to a former Playboy model.

Trump, who sometimes answers questions from reporters outside the White House, ignored questions about both topics on his way to the helicopter taking him to Air Force One.

His departure marked the end of a controversial week for Trump: The president sparked a firestorm on Monday when he refused to criticize Russia and sided with Putin’s denials of election interference during a joint press conference with the leader.


Trump, facing criticism from both Democrats and Republicans over his comments, attempted to walk back the statement on Tuesday by saying he backs the U.S. intelligence assessment that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election.

But the controversy surrounding Russia got a second wind on Thursday when the White House announced that Putin has been invited to Washington, D.C., for a second meeting this fall, a move that faced pushback from some Senate Republicans.

Trump faced another hurdle on Friday when The New York Times reported that his longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen had secretly recorded a conversation with Trump just two months ahead of the election about making a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who alleges she had an affair with Trump.

The Washington Post also reported Thursday that Cohen had recorded a conversation with Trump about a payment tied to McDougal — but that the payment was to American Media Inc., the publisher that bought the rights to the model's story about her alleged affair with Trump.

Then-Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksTrump: 'Top shows' on Fox News, cable are 'Fair (or great)' to me Trump criticizes Fox, which 'isn't working for us anymore' Sarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor MORE dismissed claims that Trump had an affair with McDougal when they were first reported shortly ahead of the 2016 election.

Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani confirmed the tape's existence to The Times, calling it a piece of "powerful exculpatory evidence." 

“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani told the Times of the taped conversation about the payment.

Trump, who frequently departs D.C. on the weekends, will spend the weekend at his private golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey.