“The president doesn’t believe that any of the claims that Ms. Daniels made last night in the interview are accurate,” Shah said, referring to a 60 Minutes interview with Daniels that aired on Sunday evening.
“He doesn’t believe she was threatened?” the reporter followed up.
“No, he does not,” Shah replied.
Pressed on his basis for saying that, Shah would only offer that Trump “just doesn’t believe that — um, there’s nothing to corroborate her claim.”
During the 60 Minutes interview, Daniels said that she “was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter” in Las Vegas in 2011 when “a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’”
“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,” she added.
Though Daniels did not allege that the man who threatened her was sent by Michael Cohen, Trump’s attorney responded to the interview with a statement demanding that Daniels “immediately retract and apologize through national media” for “defamatory statements” about Cohen being “responsible for an alleged thug who supposedly visited Ms. Clifford, while she was with her daughter, and made an alleged threat to Ms. Clifford.”
Shah confirmed that Cohen and Trump had dinner together on Saturday night. Although Trump has opinions about Daniels appearance, Shah refused to confirm that he watched the interview.
On Monday morning, Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, says he has “no doubt” that someone close to Trump was responsible for the threat.
During another part of Monday’s briefing, Shah was asked if he “could state categorically that the president, his campaign, and the Trump Organization did not violate federal law” with the $130,000 hush payment to Daniels that was made just days before the 2016 election.
Shah dodged the question.
“Well, I can speak for only the White House, and I can say categorically that the White House didn’t engage in any wrongdoing,” Shah said. “The campaign or Mr. Cohen can address anything with respect to their actions.”
Later, a reporter asked Shah why a $130,000 payment to Daniels was made in the first place if she never in fact had an affair with Trump, as the White House claims.
“I would have Michael Cohen address any specifics regarding this agreement that you’re referring to,” Shah said.
Shah said Daniels’ statements have been inconsistent, pointing to legal documents that Cohen released earlier this year with her signature. Daniels said she was coerced into signing the statements after Cohen threatened her with financial ruin.