Adult Film Star Stormy Daniels Was Physically Threatened to Stay Silent, Attorney Says
UPDATE 3/25/18: In a much-anticipated 60 Minutes interview, Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who claims to have had an affair with President Donald Trump and was reportedly paid to stay silent about it, spoke with Anderson Cooper about the alleged affair and threats she says she received to remain silent. Much of Daniels' conversation with Cooper covered well-tread territory about her alleged relationship with Trump and how she says she came to be paid a $130,000 "hush agreement."
But Daniels revealed new details about an earlier report that she had been physically threatened to remain silent about Trump. In the interview, she described a 2011 incident to Cooper: "I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter ... 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." Cooper asked if she took the man's comments as a "direct threat," and she quickly replied, "Absolutely."
Daniels told Cooper that she was so shaken by the incident that she feared she was going to drop her infant daughter. She also insisted she would never forget the man's face. "If he walked in this door right now," she told Cooper. "I would instantly know."
UPDATE 3/16/18: The week was filled with a number of developments surrounding President Trump's alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels. On Monday The New York Times reported that Daniels had offered to return the payment of $130,000 in return for being able to speak about the alleged affair via a letter from her attorney Michael Avenatti to Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Just this morning, Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti told CNN that his firm has been approached by six other women with stories similar to Daniels' regarding sexual relationships with Trump—and that at least two of them also have nondisclosure agreements. Avenatti also revealed on "Morning Joe" that Daniels has received physical threats to remain silent, but would not say who made those threats. He says all will be revealed during a 60 Minutes" interview with his client, now scheduled to air March 25. Though, according to The Washington Post, there have been some reports that the Trump legal team is trying to stop the interview from airing.
Another new twist in the scandal emerged in the form of a separate lawsuit with BuzzFeed. Trump's attorney Cohen, who also brokered the "hush agreement" with Daniels, filed a libel suit against the website in January, related to the publication of the dossier about Trump's relationship with Russia. According to Politico, this may open the door for Daniels to speak about her alleged relationship with the president. "On Tuesday, BuzzFeed’s lawyer wrote to Daniels’ attorney asking that the adult-film actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, preserve various categories of documents. Such preservation letters are often a prelude to a subpoena. If Daniels’ testimony is formally demanded in a deposition, the nondisclosure agreement would likely be no obstacle, legal experts said," Politico wrote.
UPDATE 3/7/18: On Tuesday, March 6, adult film star Stormy Daniels filed a civil lawsuit against Donald Trump which alleges that her agreement not to disclose her "intimate" relationship is invalid because it was never signed by Trump. Throughout the "hush agreement" as it's called in the suit, Daniels is referred to as Peggy Peterson and her lawyer Michael Avenatti says the person called David Dennison is Trump.
The hush agreement from October 2016 directed that $130,000 be paid into the trust account of Daniels' then-attorney. In return, she was not to disclose any confidential information about Trump or his sexual partners to anyone beyond a short list of individuals she'd already told about the relationship, or share any texts or photos from Trump. The suit also claims that "On or about February 27, 2018, Mr. Trump's attorney Mr. Cohen surreptitiously initiated a bogus arbitration proceeding against Ms. Clifford in Los Angeles." Daniels is asking the court to declare that both the hush agreement and the side agreement "were never formed, and therefore do not exist, because, among other things, Mr. Trump never signed the agreements."
On the Today show Wednesday, Avenatti told Savannah Guthrie that yes, Daniels did have a sexual relationship with the president.
He also said that Daniels is not looking to sell her story but "she's looking to disclose the truth about what happened." As for the previous statement that Daniels released stating she did not have a relationship with Trump? It's false, says Avenatti. "I think once my client is able to sit down and describe exactly what happened [...] the people of the U.S. and the world will know exactly why she signed it.” He also believes that Trump had to know about negotiations his lawyer was taking part in on his behalf.
UPDATE 2/14/18: In a statement to The New York Times, President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, says that he paid adult film star Stormy Daniels out of his own pocket. He also says he was not reimbursed for the payment. "Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford [Daniels' given name is Stephanie Clifford], and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Cohen said in the statement. “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.” Cohen did not answer follow-up questions about whether or not Trump knew about the payment or why it was made in the first place.
UPDATE 1/31/18: After Tuesday's State of the Union address from President Trump, Stormy Daniels made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Earlier in the day, a BuzzFeed reporter tweeted that he'd received a statement from the adult-film actress denying her affair with Donald Trump: "I am denying this affair because it never happened." The statement also included a shout-out to her Instagram feed. Even before the Kimmel appearance, some reporters began questioning whether the signature on the BuzzFeed statement was indeed Daniels', comparing it to autographs she's signed in the past.
Kimmel also brought up the topic, and Daniels played coy, remarking, "That doesn't look like my signatures." Though she finally did say, "I do not know where that came from," contradicting a TMZ report that her representative confirmed her signature.
Yes, it's a tangled web. Kimmel did seem to get another maybe-confession from the actress when asking her about a possible nondisclosure agreement: "So if you didn't have a nondisclosure agreement, you would be able to say you didn't have a nondisclosure agreement?" Daniels replied, "You're so smart, Jimmy." The non-answer answer certainly has the Internet buzzing anew.
Stay tuned for additional updates as more details emerge.
Just one week ago The Wall Street Journal broke a story in which they reported that Michael Cohen, a lawyer for Donald Trump, had arranged to pay an adult-film star named Stormy Daniels (given name: Stephanie Clifford) $130,000 one month before the 2016 election in order to ensure her silence about a consensual affair she had with the now President of the United States in 2006. In a different time this story would have dominated the news cycle for months, if not years. But nestled between stories about the President allegedly using the word "shithole" to describe countries, continuing debates over DACA, and a possible government shutdown, this maybe-scandal took a backseat to some very big stories dominating the news. Now a newly released transcript of a 2011 interview with Daniels by In Touch magazine has the story back at the top of the headline machine.
So let's break down exactly what we do know.
This isn't the first time the alleged affair and payment have made news. The WSJ story brought national attention to the alleged affair and payment, though rumors had apparently persisted in certain circles for some time. In the WSJ piece, a White House official says, "These are old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election." Cohen told the paper, "This is now the second time that you are raising outlandish allegations against my client. You have attempted to perpetuate this false narrative for over a year; a narrative that has been consistently denied by all parties since at least 2011."
Daniels herself has denied the claims. Cohen gave the WSJ a statement from Daniels in which she denied the relationship and that "rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false." However, she did not reply directly to WSJ's request for comment. In a statement provided to CNN by Cohen, Daniels wrote, "My involvement with Donald Trump was limited to a few public appearances and nothing more. When I met Donald Trump, he was gracious, professional, and a complete gentleman to me and EVERYONE in my presence. Rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false. If indeed I did have a relationship with Donald Trump, trust me, you wouldn't be reading about in the news, you would be reading about it in my book. But the fact of the matter is, these stories are not true." CNN also requested her contact information from Cohen, but he would not provide it.
The President himself has not tweeted or made a statement about the matter. As we all know, our current President is not one to remain silent on well…anything. From Russian collusion and the size of nuclear buttons to NFL players and female journalists like Jemele Hill, he's almost always got something to say. But not this time.
In Touch brought receipts. Today the gossip magazine In Touch has published the full transcript of an interview conducted with Daniels back in 2011, in which she discussed her relationship with Trump in explicit terms. In it she says she first met Trump at a charity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe (a detail also found in the WSJ reporting). She agreed to go to dinner with him, reasoning, "Whether you’re a fan of his or not, which I never really was, you gotta admit he’s pretty fascinating." Daniels says that they ate dinner in his hotel room alone, with a bodyguard outside and discussed business, including what sorts of royalties she made on her films. When she briefly brought up his wife (Trump had married Melania the previous year), she says he changed the subject quickly.
The dinner then led to sex (without protection), according to Daniels in the In Touch interview. She says, "I do remember while we were having sex, I was like, 'Please don’t try to pay me.' And then I remember thinking, 'But I bet if he did, it would be a lot.' Afterward, she tells the interviewer that Trump asked her to sign one of her DVDs.
Trump reportedly promised her a spot on The Apprentice. Daniels told In Touch that the now President claimed he had a "wild-card choice…that he could push one person through at will" for his hit NBC show and she would be that person.
Trump allegedly stayed in touch with Daniels after the incident. After the encounter in Tahoe, Daniels told In Touch that Trump began calling her (from a blocked number) and that she could reach him via his bodyguard or personal secretary. According to her, he invited her to events, continued to claim he would get her on his hit show, and that he was also going to get her a condo at a Trump Tower in Tampa. They saw each other occasionally and maintained a sexual relationship. Prior to the 2011 interview, Daniels claims she had not spoken to Trump in about a year and a half.
Fox News may have had the story of this alleged relationship and chosen to bury it. According to CNN, sources familiar with the matter say that a Fox News reporter who often covered celebrity and sexual harassment, Diana Falzone, filed a story about Trump and Daniels in October 2016, but the story never went anywhere. "She had the story, and Fox killed it," a source told CNN. Fox issued a statement in denial saying, "Like many other outlets, we were working to report the story of Stephanie Clifford's account in October 2016 about then presidential candidate Donald Trump and a possible payment by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. In doing our due diligence, we were unable to verify all of the facts and publish a story."
Neither of the parties (or their spokespeople) has commented on the release of the 2011 interview, but we'll be updating this story as any new details emerge.