Mr. Trump’s representatives have denied that he had a sexual encounter with Ms. Clifford and that he had any involvement in the payment.
Mr. Trump has told advisers for months he wanted to publicly push back on Ms. Clifford’s allegations, which in the past year have dominated headlines on cable networks the president closely monitors, according to people familiar with the conversations. His advisers have told him they had seen no signs that the allegations were hurting him with voters and have warned him that it would look inappropriate for the president to engage in a public spat with a former porn star.
.. Before issuing the tweet Tuesday, Mr. Trump had taken to calling Ms. Clifford “Horse face” in private, according to a person familiar with the matter. His representatives have denied that he had an affair with her.
.. Mr. Trump has previously attacked women for their looks. In an interview with Rolling Stone during the 2016 campaign, he said of Republican primary opponent Carly Fiorina: “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?”
He also attacked a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct, telling supporters at a rally in Florida in October 2016: “Take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. And you tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”