It's a lesson straight out of the Mariah Carey school of "how to dodge a question about a rival or someone you don't want to be associated with".

Step one is to deny knowing them at all -- even when you do -- as the pop star famously demonstrated when asked about her rumoured feud with Jennifer Lopez in 2016.

"I don't know her," Carey shrugged during a televised interview, unwittingly prompting an explosion of enduring memes.

Fans dubbed the singer's response a "power move" and the "ultimate shade". But it wasn't the last time the tactic would be employed by a public figure on the world stage, the catchphrase now an apparent favourite of US President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump was pressed about his views on Britain's Prince Andrew stepping down from his royal duties amid backlash over his association with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

"I don't know him, no," Mr Trump said, shaking his head, at a press conference on the sidelines of the NATO summit in London.

"I don't know Prince Andrew, but it's a tough story, it's a very tough story."

Social media users were quick to point out that Mr Trump and Prince Andrew have met several times, with photos resurfacing of the pair together as recently as a few months ago.

On June 4, Mr Trump was welcomed by the royal and then-Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of a breakfast meeting at St James's Palace for British and US business leaders.

The New York Times reports Mr Trump toured Westminster Abbey in London with the Prince, and they were photographed laughing together during his three-day visit.

There are also photographs of the two men together in social circles that one of Epstein's victims has spoken about.

Mr Trump and his then-girlfriend Melania Knauss, who is now the first lady, were seen with the Prince at least twice in 2000 - once at the opening of Hudson Hotel in New York and, more intimately, at Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, according to the newspaper.

Prince Andrew is under fire for his association with Epstein, who was facing child sex trafficking charges prior to his prison suicide death on August 10. The late financier was also accused of procuring young girls for his friends, including the Duke of York, who has vehemently denied the allegations.

In a recent television interview later described as a "trainwreck", the Prince denied claims he slept with Ms Giuffre, whom he was pictured with in a notorious photograph where he had his arm around her waist when she was 17 years old.

Fierce backlash mounted against the Prince following the broadcast, with critics accusing him of not showing any empathy for Epstein's victims. Prince Andrew acknowledged the criticism levelled at him in a statement last week.

"It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family's work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support," he said.

"Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission."

Prominent figures and business leaders have been quick to distance themselves and their brands from the Prince as he battles to keep his reputation - and the monarchy - from suffering irreparable damage. The most high-profile figure to publicly turn their back on the royal thus far is Mr Trump.

Mr Trump has previously claimed he didn't know other people he has spent time with.

After being photographed with Epstein in 2000, he told New York Magazine he was a "terrific guy" and he had known the billionaire for 15 years.

But when Epstein was later arrested for sex trafficking underage girls, Mr Trump denied knowing him very well and said he "wasn't a fan".

He has responded in a similar fashion when speaking about several former members of his staff, including Anthony Scaramucci, who was appointed White House communications director in July 2017.

When Mr Scaramucci was sacked just two weeks later for contacting the press and criticising members of Mr Trump's administration, the President addressed the development on Twitter.

"Anthony Scaramucci is a highly unstable nut job ... I barely knew him," he wrote.

Mr Trump hired George Papadopoulos as an aide on his foreign policy team during his 2016 presidential election campaign.

He described him as an "excellent guy" and tweeted a picture of them together at a national security meeting.

But after Mr Papadopoulos was sentenced to two weeks in prison for lying to the FBI about contact with the Russians, Mr Trump back-pedalled.

He told Fox News: "I never even talked to the guy. I didn't know who he was."

Matthew Whitaker spent a year as chief of staff to US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions and was the first person to hold that position under Mr Trump's leadership.

But when things turned sour between the pair in November 2018, Mr Trump fired him and he appointed Mr Whitaker as acting Attorney-General instead.

After just three months, Mr Whitaker was replaced, and Mr Trump said of him: "I don't know Matt Whitaker."

During a previous visit to the UK, the President also denied knowing minister Michael Gove despite being photographed doing the thumbs up with the then New York Times journalist following an interview.

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