President Donald Trump has never been shy about name-checking his adversaries on Twitter — until now.
As porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal recently gave wide-ranging interviews describing alleged sexual encounters with Trump in 2006, the president has remained uncharacteristically quiet on his favorite social media platform.
According to The New York Times, that’s because the president appears to be heeding the warnings of his advisers, who have cautioned him that tweeting or speaking out about McDougal or Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, would only add fuel to the already headline-dominating stories.
But behind closed doors at the White House, the president is “eager” to defend himself against the allegations he insists are false, sources close to Trump say. The New York Times adds that Trump has privately complained about Daniels to allies and some aides.
“He is growing increasingly frustrated with breathless, wall-to-wall news media coverage of the salacious details from the two women,” the Times says.
The White House did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Trump’s social media silence is noteworthy given how he has frequently lashed out on Twitter at even his most powerful foes — like North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and special counsel Robert Mueller.
The president did rail against “fake news” in a tweet on Monday morning, one day after Daniels described allegedly spanking Trump with a copy of Forbes magazine bearing his face on the cover in her bombshell 60 Minutes interview.
So much Fake News. Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate. But through it all, our country is doing great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2018
“So much Fake News,” he tweeted. “Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate. But through it all, our country is doing great!”
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It is not clear whether Trump watched Daniels’ interview or McDougal’s similar sit-down with CNN on Thursday. Deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah on Monday declined to say “what the president may or may not have seen” on television Sunday night. He added that Trump has “strong, clearly and consistently denied these underlying claims” made by Daniels. The White House has also denied that the president had an affair with McDougal in 2006.
But some critics on Twitter seemed confident that Trump’s latest tweet against “fake news” was motivated by Daniels’ tell-all.
This is about Stephanie Clifford and her lawyer. https://t.co/XxAHJZH6Tp
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) March 26, 2018
“This is about Stephanie Clifford and her lawyer,” journalist Yashar Ali tweeted in response.
Could you be more specific, sir? https://t.co/RvR27hn0Pf
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 26, 2018
And New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman asked Trump: “Could you be more specific, sir?”