Photo : Nicholas KammAFP/Getty Images

President Trump spoke to reporters on Air Force One Thursday and said he didn't know his lawyer Michael Cohen paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 before the election.

Why it matters: This is the first time Trump has spoken publicly about the alleged affair with Daniels, which she detailed in a 60 Minutes interview last month. Cohen said he paid Daniels with his own money, and "[n]either the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford."

Our thought bubble from Jonathan Swan: Trump came back to defend his embattled EPA head Scott Pruitt (whom he called "courageous".) In doing so he risked (and received) a Stormy question. That shows what a desperate situation Pruitt is in and how much Trump is trying to counter the story. He's boxed in at the moment. Conservatives are lobbying him hard to keep Pruitt, something they didn't do for Tillerson or Shulkin.

Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, followed up with a tweet saying he and his client "look forward to testing the truthfulness" of the president.

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Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 12,859,834 — Total deaths: 567,123 — Total recoveries — 7,062,085Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,297,501— Total deaths: 135,155 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000 — NYC reports zero coronavirus deaths for first time since pandemic hit.
  4. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  5. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

Scoop: How the White House is trying to trap leakers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he's fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. "Meadows told me he was doing that," said one former White House official. "I don't know if it ever worked."

Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he's caught only one person, for a minor leak.

11 GOP congressional nominees support QAnon conspiracy

Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.

Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.