Stormy Daniels Talks To 60 Minutes

Stormy Daniels spoke to 60 Minutes last night about her relationship with Donald Trump and the agreement that was made on the eve of the 2016 election to keep her quiet.

In what was likely one of the most anticipated editions of CBS’s long-running newsmagazine 60 Minutes, Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the professional name Stormy Daniels she adopted when she was an adult film actress, spoke with correspondent Anderson Cooper about her 2006 affair with Donald Trump, an alleged threat made to her not to speak about the relationship, and the circumstances behind the agreement entered into in October 2016 under which she received $130,000 in exchange for her silence:

The pornographic film star Stephanie Clifford told “60 Minutes” that she struck a $130,000 deal for her silence about an alleged affair with Donald J. Trump in the final days of the 2016 campaign because she was worried about her safety and that of her young daughter.

That concern, she told “60 Minutes” in an interview broadcast on Sunday night, was based on a threat she received in 2011 from a man who approached her in Las Vegas. She said the threat came after she sold her story about Mr. Trump for $15,000 to Bauer Publishing, which finally published the interview in its magazine InTouch early this year. Bauer had initially decided not to run it after Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, threatened to sue.

“I was in a parking lot going to a fitness class with my infant daughter,” she told the “60 Minutes” correspondent and CNN host Anderson Cooper. “And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl, it would be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ ‘

Ms. Clifford’s interview — which made for the most anticipated episode of “60 Minutes” in recent memory — was something of a national event, one marked by viewing parties and “Dark and Stormy” cocktail specials at bars, a nod to her professional name, Stormy Daniels.

And it was a quintessential moment of the Trump presidency — a tabloid-ready scandal and must-see television — that carried potential legal implications for Mr. Trump and his longtime lawyer and personal fixer, Michael Cohen. Until Sunday’s broadcast, Ms. Clifford had kept her public appearances to the strip club circuit — what she called her “Make America Horny Again” tour. But, in speaking with Mr. Cooper, she chose businesslike attire that was in keeping with the seriousness of the legal case she is making, that she had been silenced in a cover-up effort to protect the presidential prospects of Mr. Trump.

Ms. Clifford is one of two women who have recently filed suit seeking to get out of agreements they said they entered during the last stretch of the 2016 campaign to give up the rights to their stories about what they have said were affairs with Mr. Trump. The other woman, a former Playmate named Karen McDougal, sold her rights to the company that owns The National Enquirer — which never published it — and spoke to Mr. Cooper on CNN on Thursday. Representatives for Mr. Trump have denied that he had an affair with either woman.

Both cases present potentially consequential legal challenges for Mr. Trump, forming the basis of complaints that have been filed with the Federal Election Commission and the Justice Department saying that the payments constituted illegal campaign contributions.

Ms. Clifford’s appearance on “60 Minutes” showed that the effort to keep her story from public view had failed spectacularly — just as statements from Mr. Cohen that he would seek millions of dollars in damages from her for violating a hush agreement had not kept her from appearing on what is often the highest-rated program in television news.

Shortly after “60 Minutes” aired, a lawyer for Mr. Cohen, Brent H. Blakely, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Ms. Clifford’s new lawyer, Michael Avenatti. It accused him and Ms. Clifford of defaming Mr. Cohen in relation to the threat she says she received and demanding a public apology.

“Mr. Cohen had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any such person or incident, and does not even believe that any such person exists, or that such incident ever occurred,” Mr. Blakely wrote. “You and your client’s false statements about Mr. Cohen accuse him of criminal conduct and constitute, among other things, libel per se and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

During the interview Mr. Cooper asked Ms. Clifford why she was taking the legally risky route of sitting for a nationally televised interview. “I was perfectly fine saying nothing at all, but I’m not O.K. with being made out to be a liar,” she said.

Naturally, the interview did get into some of the details of the relationship between Daniels and Trump, although given the forum the details were not particularly lurid. In any case, it appears that the relationship between the two does not seem as though it was as long-lasting as the one which former Playboy centerfold Karen McDouglas talked to Cooper about during an appearance last week on CNN. The two relationships do appear, though, to have occurred at roughly the same time and coincided with the period during which Trump’s wife Melania was pregnant with his fifth child, Barron Trump. Like McDougal, Daniels describes at one point being taken by a driver to the Beverly Hills Hotel where she met Trump again and ended up watching part of the Discovery Channel with him rather than having sex. In any case, it appears that there was little contact between the two after that, or that if there was it wasn’t discussed during the interview or didn’t make it to the final cut that aired last night.

Daniels also provided some details about the circumstances that led to the agreement she entered into shortly before the 2016 election:

[W]hen her story threatened to surface again in 2016, Ms. Clifford said, her lawyer, Keith Davidson, called her. “I think I have the best deal for you,” she said Mr. Davidson told her, presenting Mr. Cohen’s offer. (Mr. Davidson had also represented Ms. McDougal.)

When Mr. Cooper said some viewers would be skeptical that Ms. Clifford had made her decision because of a threat made years earlier, she said she “didn’t even negotiate” and “just quickly said ‘yes,’ to this very, you know, strict contract, and what most people will agree with me, extremely low number.” Ms. Clifford also said that she had “turned down a large payday multiple times.”

Ms. Clifford said that she can remember the man’s face to this day and would recognize him immediately. Mr. Avenatti said earlier this month that she had been threatened, although he did not provide any details. At the time, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, “Obviously we take the safety and security of any person seriously, certainly would condemn anyone threatening any individual.”

When the story about the payoff first broke earlier this year, Ms. Clifford had signed a statement emphatically denying that an affair had taken place. She told Mr. Cooper that she had been told that if she failed to sign it, “they can make your life hell in many different ways.” That sentiment, she indicated, was based on the terms of the agreement, not on any new threat of physical violence, though, she said, she felt both “intimidated” and “bullied.”

Lawyers for Mr. Cohen have said that Ms. Clifford faces $20 million in penalties for violating an agreement to remain quiet and that the agreement was still binding.

Ms. Clifford’s suit hinges on Mr. Avenatti’s argument that the agreement is invalid because Mr. Trump had not signed it. Mr. Cohen signed the agreement, representing the Delaware shell company Essential Consultants, through which he paid Ms. Clifford.

As I’ve said before, the fact of whether or not Trump had an affair with Daniels is not really the important story here even though it is likely to be the part of the story that draws the most public attention. The details are lurid, of course, and the fact that Trump was apparently having some kind of affair with at least two women while his wife was pregnant certainly doesn’t speak well to his character or integrity. In reality, though, we already knew what we were getting with Donald Trump long before he ran for President. Additionally, it’s worth remembering that the payment to Daniels came around the same time that we learned of the Access Hollywood tape and the claims of nineteen women who alleged they had been harassed and even apparently assaulted by Trump in the past. While Trump took a temporary hit in the polls when those stories came out, he still ended up winning the election. Given that, the revelation that he’d apparently had a consensual affair with a porn star likely would not have harmed his campaign at all and it’s not likely to hurt him going forward.

However, as I’ve said before, while the details of Trump’s relationship are not particularly important, the same cannot be said about the remainder of her story. This includes the threat that was allegedly made against her in 2011, which she didn’t get into too much detail during the interview, and the circumstances surrounding that agreement entered into in October of 2016 that led to the $130,000 payoff engineered by longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Specifically, the important questions are what, if anything, Trump or anyone associated with the campaign knew about this payment, who the actual source for the payment was, whether Cohen’s claim that he used his own money is true and whether he was reimbursed. Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner gets into detail about some other questions raised by last night’s interview. Depending on the answers to these questions, we could be looking at potential violations of Federal election laws, money laundering, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax fraud. In other words, as Deep Throat told Woodward & Bernstein, follow the money.

In any case, if you missed the interview you can watch it online, or read the transcript.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. drj says:

    And let’s not forget, since he was willing to pay hush money, that Trump can be blackmailed.

    Not only by vengeful ex-mistresses or porn stars looking for easy money, but also by foreign intelligence agencies.

    After all, it’s fairly obvious that Clifford wasn’t his only extra-marital affair.

    #MAGA




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  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    This story is about four things, and none of them is about Dennison’s text-book generic sexual techniques.
    1. Dennison is morally corrupt, both in carrying on multiple affairs while his wife is home caring for an infant, and in using illegal campaign contributions to silence Daniels and, presumably, others we don’t even know about. Not to mention the use of force to try and intimidate Daniels.
    2. Dennison and Cohen are clearly incompetent at even the most basic things. If you can’t work out a deal with a glorified hooker…you ain’t the world’s greatest deal maker. Daniels attorney is running circles around Team Dennison.
    3. Given that this affair is nothing compared to the corrupt business
    practices he has carried on for years, in a large extent with shady Russians, it’s very clear that Dennison is highly susceptible to blackmail and extortion.
    4. Republicans in general, and Evangelicals specifically, have proven themselves to be wholly unprincipled by hitching their wagon to this man. The party of family values and law and order? Laughable.




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  3. CSK says:

    One minor correction: Trump had his flings/liaisons/interludes/affairs with Daniels and MacDougal a few months after Melania had given birth to Barron, which was in March 2006.

    Th really skin-crawling revelation to me is that Trump told both women that they reminded him of Ivanka.




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  4. MarkedMan says:

    I actually feel bad for all these evangelical Trump supporters with young children. Because when those kids are teenagers and their parents try to lecture them from a position of moral authority, the kids will just laugh in their face.




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  5. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: Except that they’re the ones who have been loudly supporting Cadet Bone Spurs no matter what disgusting and immoral actions he gets up to. No one put a gun to their heads to force them to do that.

    I think they deserve to be incredibly embarrassed and called on their hypocrisy by their kids.




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  6. Kathy says:

    In reality, though, we already knew what we were getting with Donald Trump long before he ran for President.

    Sure. And the hypocrisy on the part of the GOP is completely expected.

    What I wonder is why Donnie Dennison keeps insisting these consensual affairs never happened. I’m sure his base believes those denials, and they would even if the pervert in chief gave details about them as well as denying them. But no one else does.




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  7. Kathy says:

    BTW, Gary Hart must be the most embittered man who ever lived.




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  8. CSK says:

    @Kathy:

    The ironic part here is that most of his base, “good” Christians may they be, don’t care if Trump banged the entire Folies Bergere, the Rockettes, and the junior class of Mount Holyoke College. They’ve said so. And Trump has bragged about his various adulteries in the past.

    There has to be something more with this Daniels business. Something he really wants to keep hidden. I really don’t think he gives a damn about sparing Melania’s feelings.




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  9. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    It’s the Russia thing all over again. If there’s nothing, why is everyone lying about it and trying to hide information? Why is everyone obstructing all investigations?




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  10. Guarneri says:

    Well, at least we found Anderson Cooper’s best and highest use.

    But have to tell you, if I’m an aspirin manufacturer in Africa………..I’m worried.




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  11. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Where’s MBunge?

    I wanted his take on this and how Clinton (both of them) was somehow much worse, and that none of this matters to Trump and American because neener neener neener.

    I came for the convoluted logic…. leaving disappointed.




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  12. Joe says:

    @CSK:

    There are only two people Trump won’t take on through Twitter, Putin and Clifford/Daniels. Just curious. (I personally think he won’t take on Clifford because he knows she can out-Trump him on Twitter, and then he’s just losing an argument . . . to a girl.)

    Personally, I think this one goes no where. No one doubts or even cares that it happened (which, I know, makes a bunch of them hypocrites). Cohen is going to go down in flames for poor ethics and even worse lawyering. Clifford will win or lose her case. And a third of us will wring our hands about how Trump tried to hush her up, while another third of us will get entirely muddled by the fact that Clifford did sign the NDA for a not insubstantial sum of money.

    There is a lot more Trump sh-t here, but there is no “Aha.” It’s just more of what everyone should expect from the guy who actually got elected to the office.




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  13. Kylopod says:

    While Trump took a temporary hit in the polls when those stories came out, he still ended up winning the election. Given that, the revelation that he’d apparently had a consensual affair with a porn star likely would not have harmed his campaign at all and it’s not likely to hurt him going forward.

    That doesn’t follow. I’m convinced his election victory depended on timing–namely, as November rolled around the shock of the Access Hollywood revelations had begun to fade, and the story of the Comey Letter and Hillary’s emails began to dominate the news cycle again. In other words, if the election had happened in mid-October, Trump very likely would have lost.

    One of the commonest and most pervasive fallacies about elections is the idea that if a particular factor didn’t cause a candidate to lose the election, then that means the factor didn’t harm the candidate. It’s a fallacy that you’ve made before, and it’s a fallacy that dozens of pundits who should know better routinely make to this day. It overlooks the possibility that a winning candidate might have won more easily, perhaps by a wider margin.

    For one thing, if the Stormy Daniels story had surfaced in October, it may have helped prolong coverage of the overall subject of Trump’s sexual misconduct allegations, so that it didn’t fade quite as quickly as it did. If that had happened, I think it very well may have prevented Trump from achieving his narrow electoral victory.

    And please, don’t anybody give me this crap that “the public doesn’t care what the media is saying.” That’s one of the biggest BS myths of all about the 2016 election. If you track the polling throughout that year, the pattern couldn’t have been clearer: whenever Trump was in the news, the center of (negative) attention, his poll numbers would take a nosedive. This happened repeatedly–during the “Mexican” judge fiasco, the Gold Star family, and the Access Hollywood tapes. But when the focus of the news would shift away from Trump and toward Hillary–Comey’s original report on the email controversy, the pneumonia incident, and finally the Comey Letter in literally the last week of the campaign–her numbers would fall and his would rise.

    The Daniels story, if it had been released in 2016, would almost certainly have affected things. The only question is whether it would have affected things long enough to matter.




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  14. Tyre says:

    I did not watch this “60 Minutes”. I saw the end of the game and switched immediately to a sports network for more March madness.
    I saw a lot of hype and buildup like this would be “Al Capone’s Vault”, “Debbie Does Dallas”, and a Springer show all in one. CBS News division really lowered themselves with this trashy, lewd sensationalism. I would be embarrassed to have this on with friends or family members present.
    There was a time when CBS and 60 Minutes would not stoop to this level. Can you imagine Mike Wallace doing this kind of story? Their professionalism left some time ago.




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  15. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:
    Perhaps it is a video of Stormy trying and failing to rally a flaccid male member?




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  16. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Or, one supposes, trying to locate it.




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  17. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kylopod: The point of the Comey Memo and the Access Hollywood taped is that they reinforced the candidates preconceptions among voters. That affected the rejection to both candidates. Trump barely won(Both candidates had high rejection numbers), but he was damaged to the point that he was the most unpopular President of recorded history.




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  18. teve tory says:

    Tyre says:
    Monday, March 26, 2018 at 16:46
    I did not watch this “60 Minutes”. I saw the end of the game and switched immediately to a sports network for more March madness.
    I saw a lot of hype and buildup like this would be “Al Capone’s Vault”, “Debbie Does Dallas”, and a Springer show all in one. CBS News division really lowered themselves with this trashy, lewd sensationalism. I would be embarrassed to have this on with friends or family members present.
    There was a time when CBS and 60 Minutes would not stoop to this level. Can you imagine Mike Wallace doing this kind of story? Their professionalism left some time ago.

    Shoot the messenger, huh?

    Something tells me if it was 1981, and details emerged that new president Ronald Reagan had cheated on nancy with Linda Lovelace in the 70’s, and in 1980 had his lawyer pay 6-figure hush money to her, and meanwhile Marilyn Chambers was suing him to get out of an NDA about their affair, something tells me Mike Wallace and Co would definitely have looked into it, except back then the GOP had some minimal standards and would have already forced him out anyway.




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  19. Tyrell says:

    @teve tory: Thanks for the comments. I just think back to professionals like Conkrite, Brinkley, and many others that I grew up respecting as pros. I can’t imagine Kuralt doing a story like this.




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  20. Guarneri says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    He raped women.

    Other than that small detail, no difference.




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  21. Kylopod says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    The point of the Comey Memo and the Access Hollywood taped is that they reinforced the candidates preconceptions among voters. That affected the rejection to both candidates.

    I agree. I’ve mentioned this stat before, but to me one of the most revealing of CNN’s exit polls showed that, among voters with a negative opinion of both candidates, Trump beat Hillary 47-30. In Wisconsin, it was 60-23.

    That suggests there were a lot of swing voters on the fence who were simply trying to make up their mind which poison to choose. I suspected before the election that this group was comprised disproportionately of Republican-leaning voters who disliked Trump and who would therefore probably “come home” in the end. But there were also many Democratic-leaning voters who had decide whether to take the trip to the polls to support a candidate they didn’t care for–especially in a “safely blue state” like, say, Wisconsin or Michigan. That kind of thing most certainly could have been affected by the news coverage of the moment–whether it was focused on what a pig Trump is, or on the matter of Hillary’s emails.

    I do now think the results were going to be close no matter what. The idea that Clinton was ever going to win in a landslide was probably always an illusion. Indeed, the day the Comey Tape was released, the gap between Trump and Hillary had already been narrowing for days. Trump was probably always going to do better than the polls were suggesting. And he did have an electoral-college advantage (as 538 noticed as early as the summer), meaning that the bulk of his support was to be found in the most electorally crucial states, whereas Hillary was getting a lot of extra votes in states she didn’t need.

    As I said, in mid-October he’d have probably lost, but by a narrower margin than the polls at the time suggested. By November 8th, even though a lot of people didn’t notice, the polls had narrowed to the point they were almost break-even. (RCP’s final average of the polls pointed to a razor-thin Clinton electoral victory of 272-267.) I’m not trying to get into a discussion of Hillary’s particular flaws or the idea that she “should” have been running away with the race. With all her flaws she still came within a hair of winning–and whenever that happens, even the most seemingly marginal of stuff could have made the difference.




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  22. An Interested Party says:

    CBS News division really lowered themselves with this trashy, lewd sensationalism. I would be embarrassed to have this on with friends or family members present.
    There was a time when CBS and 60 Minutes would not stoop to this level. Can you imagine Mike Wallace doing this kind of story? Their professionalism left some time ago.

    Do you have the same disdain for our country as a whole? After all, a vulgar, disgusting, trashy piece of filth sits in the White House…CBS is simply behind the curve at this point…




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  23. Tyrell says:

    @An Interested Party: I do have “disdain” and disgust of the leadership. I have written several times of my support of Johnson, Humphrey, Carter, and the past leaders of the Southern Democrat party.




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  24. Sleeping Dog says:

    @An Interested Party:
    Look how low the President (gag) has taken this. CBS is following the story.




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  25. engineerman says:

    @Kylopod: you mean the same polls that had hillary winning by a landslide? i don’t think they were polling the correct people.




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  26. Kylopod says:

    @engineerman:

    you mean the same polls that had hillary winning by a landslide? i don’t think they were polling the correct people.

    I was referring to RCP’s final averages of the polls before Election Day. The averages got all but four states correct–Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Nevada. They showed Clinton leading in the first three states, which she went on to lose, and Trump leading in Nevada, which he went on to lose. The site even correctly called the single electoral vote that Trump won in Maine. The result was an estimated 272-267 electoral victory for Clinton–about as far from a landslide as you can get.

    The notion that the polls showed a Clinton landslide is nothing more than a myth, fake news being spread by right-wing sites ever since the election.




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  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Haysoos Chrispos, is this actually a topic of discussion concerning our president?

    Really folks, how low have we sunk?




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