President Donald Trump said Friday he was “surprised” to hear the news about his longtime friend and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was charged earlier that day in an investigation targeting an international sex trafficking ring.
Kraft, who has owned the NFL team since 1994, was charged by Jupiter, Florida, authorities with two counts of soliciting sex at a massage parlor.
“He has denied it,” Trump told reporters who pressed him about it, according to White House pool reports. He pointed to statements from a Kraft spokesman saying the Patriots owner did not engage in any illegal activity.
Though there have been reports that Trump’s reaction to the NFL protests strained their relationship, Kraft recently praised the president for “working very hard to serve the best interests of the country.”
Kraft also donated more than $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee.
He’s the second man with close ties to Trump to make headlines this week over sex trafficking allegations. On Thursday, a judge ruled that Justice Department lawyers broke the law by concealing a nonprosecution agreement they reached with Trump’s billionaire friend Jeffrey Epstein, who in 2008 faced allegations of sexually abusing more than 30 female minors. One of those lawyers is a current Trump Cabinet member, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.