President Trump is upset with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for her handling on Wednesday of questions about allegations that the president once had an affair with adult-film actress Stormy Daniels.
CNN's Jim Acosta reported that Trump is "very unhappy" with his press secretary after she acknowledged at a press briefing on Wednesday that Trump has been involved in a legal dispute with Daniels stemming from her allegations.
Sanders at Wednesday's press briefing said that an arbitration process had gone in the president's favor.
By doing so, a source told Acosta that Sanders "gave the Stormy Daniels storyline steroids yesterday."
Michael Cohen, Trump's personal attorney, paid Daniels $130,000 weeks before the 2016 presidential election to keep silent about an alleged affair. Cohen has acknowledged the payment, but insists that it came from his personal funds, which would distance Trump from the payment.
By describing the president as being involved in the arbitration process, Sanders put Trump closer to the legal process.
The arbitration proceeding pertained to a restraining order obtained by Cohen that sought to bar Daniels from speaking out publicly about the alleged affair with Trump. The restraining order, which was granted by a private arbitrator, prevents Daniels from disclosing "confidential information" related to the nondisclosure agreement.
Daniels's lawyer, Michael Avenatti, reportedly disputed Sanders's claim that the arbitration proceeding was decided in Trump's favor, jokingly telling a New York Times reporter on Wednesday that the president “also won the popular vote.”
In another interview with NBC's "Today," Avenatti said that the nondisclosure agreement was invalid because Trump never signed it, a move that Avenatti says was intended to allow Trump to "claim deniability."
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, filed a lawsuit this week seeking permission to speak freely about her alleged affair with Trump, which purportedly took place more than a decade ago.
But Daniels alleges that publicly disclosing the payment voids the nondisclosure agreement, meaning that she should be able to speak about the alleged affair without fear of legal retribution.