By Michael McCurry
On Sunday, March 24, pornographic film star Stormy Daniels made her long-anticipated appearance on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
A week and a half before the 2016 election, Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen paid Ms. Daniels to keep quiet about her alleged relationship with the Republican presidential candidate. President Trump’s lawyers are now threatening the former adult actress with financial ruin, saying she has to pay $1 million dollars every time she violates her agreement to stay silent. However, that didn’t stop her from going on 60 Minutes.
Stormy Daniels sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper because, in her words, “it was very important to me to be able to defend myself.”
Daniels noted that her coming forward is “not a ‘Me Too.’ I was not a victim.” According to her account on 60 Minutes, Ms. Daniels says her one-night stand with Mr. Trump in 2006 was consensual.
The 39-year-old Baton Rouge native’s real name is Stephanie Clifford, and she has been acting in, directing and writing adult films for more than half of her life. At the time of meeting Mr. Trump, she was one of the most popular actresses in the adult film industry. The two first met at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in July 2006, a few months after Melania Trump gave birth to Mr. Trump’s youngest son Barron. According to Daniels, Trump would later invite her to dinner and then to his suite alone.
While still in Mr. Trump’s suite, Ms. Daniels says she had momentarily left the future president alone to use the restroom, but when she returned she found Mr. Trump disrobed and waiting for her at the foot of his bed.
“I realized exactly what I’d gotten myself into. And I was like, ‘Ugh, here we go,’” Daniels said. “And I just felt like maybe […] I had it coming for making a bad decision going to someone’s room alone and I just heard the voice in my head, ‘well, you put yourself in a bad situation and bad things happen, so you deserve this.’”
Later in the interview, Ms. Daniels claims the president offered her an appearance on “The Apprentice,” an offer Daniels thought of as “a business deal.”
In July 2007, a year after they met, Daniels says Mr. Trump asked to meet with her privately at his bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles to discuss news about her possible appearance on “Celebrity Apprentice.”
During this meeting, Daniels says the two did not engage in sexual activities, however not because Mr. Trump didn’t want to. When asked how she knew Mr. Trump was interested in sex, Daniels replied, “Because he came and sat next to me and […] touched my hair, and put his hand on my leg, and referenced back to how great it was the last time.”
After that encounter, Ms. Daniels says she left the Hollywood Hotel having told Mr. Trump to call her instead next time he has any news about a possible Apprentice appearance.
According to Daniels, Mr. Trump then called her the following month to say he was not able to get her a spot on his reality TV show. She says they never met again and only had sex in that first 2006 meeting. In May 2011, Daniels agreed to tell her story to In Touch magazine for $15,000. According to CNN, In Touch never ran the story because when the magazine reached out to Trump for comment, Michael Cohen threatened to sue. Daniels said she never received payment, and, a few weeks later, she said she was threatened by a man in Las Vegas.
“I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. Taking […] the seats facing backwards in the backseat, diaper bag, you know, getting all the stuff out. And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone.”
Daniels claims she has never seen that man again but would recognize him if she saw him today. Daniels also alleged the mystery man was sent by Michael Cohen.
When a gossip website reported a few months later that she’d had an affair with Mr. Trump, Daniels publicly denied it. Five years later, Donald Trump won the Republican nomination for president.
It was at this point Daniels received an offer of $130,000 to sign a non-disclosure agreement from Michael Cohen. Daniels claims she took the deal out of concern for her family.
When Anderson Cooper asked her if she thinks people will assume she was seeking the money, Daniels said, “I think the fact that I didn’t even negotiate, I just quickly said yes to this very, you know, strict contract. And what most people will agree with me extremely low number. It’s all the proof I need.”
A case is currently pending in a California court to determine the validity of the non-disclosure agreement signed by Daniels and Cohen. The agreement has come under scrutiny due to the absence of Donald Trump’s signature — an absence that voids the agreement according to Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti, “She took the money. But the fact of the matter is Mr. Trump never signed the agreement. He was obligated to sign the agreement in order for the agreement to spring into effect,” Avenatti said.
Avenatti, who also appeared on the same 60 Minutes piece, has also implied the existence of text and video proof of the alleged affair. When asked by Anderson Cooper whether or not he was bluffing, Avenatti said, “You should ask some of the other people in my career when they’ve bet on me bluffing.”
The president’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders again reiterated Trump’s denial of Stormy Daniels’ account and any knowledge of hush money in a press briefing the day after the airing of the Stormy Daniels 60 Minutes. However, the President has yet to comment directly on the interview or the Stormy Daniels affair as a whole.
Image Courtesy of CNN