White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has come under fire for her long-held denial that US President Donald Trump never paid hush money to adult star Stormy Daniels.
In a stunning turnaround, Mr Trump confessed on Friday (Thursday night local time) that he reimbursed his lawyer Michael Cohen $US130,000 for a payment to Ms Daniels for her silence over an alleged affair in 2006.
The news directly contradicted the president and Ms Huckabee-Sanders’ statements in recent months, which said Mr Trump had no knowledge of the matter.
Ms Huckabee Sanders fronted the White House press briefing on Friday morning (Thursday local time), where she was accused of repeatedly misleading the public.
She was also scolded over Mr Trump’s conflicting story.
“This was information that the President didn’t know at the time but eventually learned,” Ms Huckabee Sanders responded.
Sanders on whether the White House was in the dark about the Stormy Daniels hush payment: "I've given the best information I had at the time" https://t.co/DbHHCVkdjK
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 3, 2018
The admission came after Mr Trump’s new lawyer, and former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani broke ranks on Thursday to reveal Mr Cohen made the payment to Ms Daniels.
During an appearance on Fox News show Hannity, Mr Giuliani said the money had been “funnelled … through the law firm and the President repaid it”.
Ms Huckabee Sanders was asked whether she was lying to the public or she was in the dark, however she did not directly answer the question.
She also refused to answer questions on how Mr Trump didn’t know of the payment to Ms Daniels despite paying his lawyer monthly retainers.
“I’ve give the very best information that I had at the time,” she said.
Ms Huckabee Sanders told reporters her first awareness of the arrangement came during Mr Giuliani’s interview.
Politicians turn on Huckabee Sanders
Less than a week after Mr Trump and other US Senators came to the defence of Ms Huckabee Sanders over comedian Michelle Wolf’s White House correspondents’ dinner roast, top Republican Charlie Dent turned his back on the press secretary.
Mr Dent criticised Ms Huckabee Sanders for “misleading” the country over the payment and said there should be Congressional oversight hearings over the matter.
“How does Sarah Huckabee Sanders go to work every day if she was sent out there to mislead the American people?” he told CNN.
On March 7 Ms Huckabee Sanders said in a statement: “I’ve had conversations with the president about this. There was no knowledge of any payments from the president, and he’s denied all of these allegations.”