What Else Does Stormy Daniels Have on Trump?
Stormy Daniels spoke for the first time on national television about her alleged affair with the president—but burning questions remain unanswered about her story and her NDA.
The first time Stormy Daniels was threatened over her alleged affair with President Trump, she was in a Las Vegas parking lot with her baby daughter.
A stranger approached the porn star in the weeks after she spoke to In Touch magazine in May 2011 about her romp with the reality TV star, according to Daniels’ hotly anticipated CBS 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper.
Daniels said she was heading to a fitness class and collecting a diaper bag from the back seat of her car when the man warned, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.”
Before he walked off, the creep said, “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.”
Daniels, 39, told Cooper she never saw the man again. “But I—if I did I would know it right away,” she said in the Sunday evening program. “If he walked in this door right now, I would instantly know” his face, she added.
The adult film actress—who is suing to void a “hush agreement” about her alleged affair with Trump—said she was too afraid to go to police.
The interview marked the first time Daniels spoke publicly, on national television, about what led to the infamous “hush agreement.”
But the segment left burning questions unanswered, including whether Daniels has text messages and photographs relating to Trump. (According to Daniels’ NDA, she agreed to hand over any such images and texts. Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, alluded to having pics in a Twitter post last week.)
And the program didn’t address why Daniels was paid the very specific and relatively paltry sum of $130,000 for her cooperation.
For his part, Cooper grilled the porn star about why she was speaking out to set the record straight, even as she risked a million-dollar fine.
In court papers, Trump’s legal team has claimed Daniels owes Cohen and/or Trump $20 million in damages, or $1 million per breach of the NDA.
“I guess I’m not 100 percent sure on why you’re doing this,” Cooper told Daniels. “Because it was very important to me to be able to defend myself,” she replied. She added that she’s “not OK with being made out to be a liar, or people thinking that I did this for money.”
Daniels shot back at critics calling her an opportunist. “Yes, I’m getting more job offers now, but tell me one person who would turn down a job offer making more than they’ve been making, doing the same thing that they’ve always done?”
The porn star was offered money for her tawdry tale as early as 2011, when she was interviewed by and did a polygraph test for In Touch magazine.
In Touch never ran the story, for which Daniels was offered $15,000, because Trump’s personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen threatened to sue, former employees of the publication told 60 Minutes. She was never paid.
And she apparently kept quiet after the warning in Las Vegas.
Five years later, Cohen would ultimately pay Daniels $130,000 for her silence. Cohen has denied threatening Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford and who’s made life hell for the White House in recent months.
Still, Daniels would allegedly face threats to keep quiet again—after The Wall Street Journal revealed she signed a nondisclosure agreement about her romp with Trump 11 days before the presidential election.
Daniels said her former attorney and former manager pressured her to sign statements, which Cohen released to the media, denying the Trump affair.
“If it was untruthful, why did you sign it?” Cooper asked. Daniels replied: “Because they made it sound like I had no choice.” There was no threat of physical violence, Daniels added, but she believed she would face legal troubles.
“As a matter of fact, the exact sentence used was, ‘They can make your life hell in many different ways,’” Daniels told Cooper.
When Cooper asked who “they” was, Daniels replied, “I’m not exactly sure who ‘they’ were. I believe it to be Michael Cohen.”
Before the 2016 election, people offered Daniels “large amounts of money” to spill on her tryst with Trump, she said. “Was I tempted?” Daniels told Cooper. “Yes, I struggle with it. And then I get the call. ‘I think I have the best deal for you.’”
Daniels’ former lawyer told her Cohen was willing to pay for her secrecy, she said. She signed the agreement because it would protect her child from the news. “I was concerned for my family and their safety,” Daniels said, echoing one friend’s statements to The Daily Beast on why she took the money.
When Cooper suggested viewers would have doubts, Daniels said the small payout she accepted proves her story isn’t about the money.
“I think the fact that I didn’t even negotiate, I just quickly said yes to this v—very, you know, strict contract. And what most people will agree with me extremely low number. It’s all the proof I need,” Daniels said.
She continued, “I turned down a large payday multiple times because one, I didn’t wanna kiss and tell and be labeled all the things that I’m being labeled now.”
Plus, she didn’t want her family exposed to the media frenzy. Daniels said that “everything that I was afraid of coming out has come out anyway, and guess what? I don’t have a million dollars.” She laughed, “You didn’t even buy me breakfast.”
Daniels declined to answer when Cooper asked whether she turned over any Trump-related video images, pictures, emails, and texts when she signed the NDA.
“You don’t want to say one way or the other if you have text messages or other items?” Cooper asked.
“My attorney has recommended that I don’t discuss those things,” Daniels said.
But the interview was as much about Cohen as it was about Daniels.
Trevor Potter, a former Federal Election Commission chairman, told 60 Minutes that Cohen’s hush money appeared to be an illegal campaign contribution.
“It’s a $130,000 in-kind contribution by Cohen to the Trump campaign, which is about $126,500 above what he’s allowed to give,” said Potter, who helms the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center.
“And if he does this on behalf of his client, the candidate, that is a coordinated, illegal, in kind contribution by Cohen for the purpose of influencing the election, of benefiting the candidate by keeping this secret,” Potter added.
Potter said that if Trump repaid Cohen, Trump should have reported the reimbursement. But even if Cohen was repaid, he violated contribution limits. “I guess it mitigates it if he’s paid back by the candidate because the candidate could have paid for it without limit,” Potter told Cooper.
And if Trump never repaid Cohen—as Cohen claimed to The New York Times—“Then he is still out on the line, having made an illegal in kind contribution to the campaign,” Potter said.
“You’re saying this is more serious for Michael Cohen if the president did not pay him back?” Cooper asked, to which Potter replied in the affirmative. Cohen has said the hush money had nothing to do with the election.
Yet Avenatti, Daniels’ attorney, questioned why Cohen didn’t make a deal with the porn star months or years earlier.
“So why didn’t he?” Avenatti told Cooper in his own interview. “It just slipped his mind? It’s just a coincidence that, in the waning days of the campaign, he thought to himself, ‘Oh, you know, I know I’ve been thinkin’ about this for years. Perhaps now is a good time to get that NDA executed with Stormy Daniels.” Avenatti pointed to Cohen’s use of his Trump Organization email on documents relating to the Daniels payout. He also revealed that Daniels’ former attorney had FedEx-ed her signed NDA to Cohen at his work office in Trump Tower. “This idea that there’s a separation now between Mr. Cohen, individually, and the Trump Organization, or Mr. Cohen, individually, and Donald Trump, it—it—it’s nonsense,” Avenatti told Cooper.
Cohen did not return messages left by The Daily Beast on Sunday evening.
After Sunday’s episode aired, Avenatti addressed the alleged threat to Daniels in 2011 and insinuated Trump’s team was behind it.
“There can be no question where this threat came from. It could only have come from one place,” Avenatti hinted on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Potter said the FEC isn’t the only problem Trump could face.
Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, has also reportedly looked into dealings involving Cohen.
Potter said Cohen’s actions unrelated to Russia could be of interest to Mueller, too. The Justice Department “has determined that looking at what [Paul] Manafort did in other contexts is relevant to the investigation. And I think you can say exactly the same thing about Cohen,” Potter said.
Mueller has filed a litany of criminal charges against Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, some of which aren’t related to the Russia probe.
“[Cohen] was involved indisputably with Trump Organization activities with Russia and negotiations with the Russians,” Potter added. “Mr. Cohen is in the middle of a place that’s of great interest to the special counsel.”
Potter then noted another politician who was prosecuted for an undisclosed campaign contribution: former Sen. John Edwards. The North Carolina pol was accused of using campaign cash cover up an extramarital affair—and love child—before the 2008 presidential election.
Potter said Cohen’s case is more damaging, however, as the payout came in the days leading to Election Day, and as allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump became a national controversy.
The 60 Minutes episode ended with Daniels defending her intentions.
Cooper questioned why the X-rated actress would deny her affair with Trump in three different statements after her NDA was exposed this year.
“But come on. You would not sign statements one, two, three times about something which you knew to be a lie,” Cooper told her attorney.
Avenatti replied, “If the president of the United States’ fixer made it clear to me, either directly or indirectly, that I needed to sign it, and I was in the position of Stormy Daniels, I might sign those statements.”
Daniels said she felt “intimidated” and “bullied” and “didn’t know what to do.”
“And so I signed it,” Daniels continued. “Even though I had repeatedly expressed that I wouldn’t break the agreement, but I was not comfortable lying.”
Cooper then asked Daniels, “How do we know you’re telling the truth?”
Daniels replied that she had no reason to lie and is potentially putting herself in danger by coming forward.
She suggested that writing a book or making bank off her rendezvous with the future president wasn’t a guarantee. She said she could be “shunned” and “be alienating half of my fan base right at this very moment.”
Cooper highlighted the statements of another famed porn actress, Jenna Jameson, who recently blasted Daniels’ media campaign and called it “career suicide.”
“The left looks at her as a whore and just uses her to try to discredit the president. The right look at her like a treacherous rat. It’s a lose-lose. Should have kept her trap shut,” Jameson tweeted in January.
Daniels told Cooper, “I think that she has a lotta wisdom in those words.”
Last week, when a Twitter user asked Jameson what she thought about Daniels’ case, she replied, “I think it’s another unimportant distraction.”
And on Sunday, Jameson tweeted, “I’m just glad I’m getting rest from being called a whore today” with the hashtag #StormyDanielsDay.
Cooper ended the segment by asking what Daniels would say to Trump if he’s watching her 60 Minutes report.
She replied, “He knows I’m telling the truth.”