US president Donald Trump's legal troubles continued to mount on Friday as the White House struggled to present a coherent narrative of circumstances surrounding the payment of $130,000 to an adult film star – a payment that could be classified as illegal campaign financing.
A day after Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor now working as a lawyer for Mr Trump, engaged in a media blitz claiming that the US president had recompensed his lawyer Michael Cohen for money paid to Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, Mr Trump sought to contradict Mr Giuliani's version of events.
“Rudy is a great guy, but he just started a day ago . . . he’ll get his facts straight,” said Mr Trump.
Mr Giuliani issued a statement later on Friday clarifying his position. He said that during a Fox News interview he had been describing not his "understanding of the president's knowledge, but instead my understanding of these matters".
He also reiterated his claim that the payment to Ms Daniels was personal and would have been made whether Mr Trump had been a presidential election candidate or not – a key argument as investigators assess if the payment amounted to campaign financing because it sought to help Mr Trump’s run for the presidency.
As the legal controversy continued, Mr Trump and vice-president Mike Pence travelled to Dallas to attend the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association.
Less than three months after the Parkland school shooting in Florida, Mr Trump praised the members of the pro-gun lobby group as “real patriots”.
“Your second amendment rights are under siege but they will never ever be under siege as long as I’m your president,” he said to shouts of “USA! USA!” He also restated his plan to arm teachers in the classroom.
Mr Trump appeared at the convention despite pledging to stand up to the NRA by clamping down on gun ownership legislation following widespread outrage over the Parkland shooting, which left 17 people dead.
Mr Pence criticised the media for not telling the “whole story about firearms in America,” adding: “the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”