President Donald Trump
According to Slate magazine editor in chief Jacob Weisberg, Stephanie Clifford, the adult film actress also known as Stormy Daniels, told him that she first met Trump at a 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Nevada, where they had the first of numerous s*xual encounters. At the time, Trump had been married to Melania for less than two years.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported the alleged $130,000 payment was arranged by the Trump Organization’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen. According to the New York Times, the arrangement came as Clifford was “discussing sharing her account with ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’” and Slate.
Both the White House and Cohen fiercely denied the reports.
“These rumors have circulated time and again since 2011,” Cohen said in a statement to the Times. “President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence as has Ms. Daniels.”
Cohen also released a letter signed by Daniels denying that she had a “s*xual and/or romantic affair with Mr. Trump many, many, many years ago.”
“Rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false,” the letter said.
“These are old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election,” the White House said in a separate statement.
In the months leading up the 2016 election, Clifford told Weisberg that, through their lawyers, she and Trump reached an agreement for the Republican nominee to pay her “a six-figure sum to keep quiet.”
Weisberg said Clifford texted him “an unsigned two-page document spelling out this arrangement,” which appeared to use pseudonyms to “shield the real names of the parties.”
“Stephanie Gregory Clifford aka Stormy Daniels is referred to by the pseudonym ‘Peggy Peterson,’ and ___________ is referred to by the pseudonym ’David Dennison,’” the document said, according Weisberg.
“Daniels said she was talking to me and sharing these details because Trump was stalling on finalizing the confidentiality agreement and paying her,” Weisberg explained in his report. “Given her experience with Trump, she suspected he would stall her until after the election, and then refuse to sign or pay up.”
According to Weisberg, Clifford told him that she “was holding back on the juiciest details, such as her ability to describe things about Trump that only someone who had seen him naked would know.” (Earlier Tuesday, Clifford’s friend Alana Evans told NBC’s Megyn Kelly that Daniels later told her that Trump had chased her around the bedroom “in his tighty whities.” Evans relayed the same story to the Daily Beast.)
On Nov. 4, 2016, the Journal reported the National Enquirer — the tabloid owned by Trump supporter David Pecker — agreed to pay $150,000 to a former Playboy model for her story of an affair with Trump but then didn’t publish it.
Two weeks before that, in late October 2016, another p*rn star, Jessica Drake, accused Trump of s*xual assault. The alleged incident occurred at the same 2006 golf tournament where Clifford said she first met Trump, who has denied multiple sexual misconduct allegations.
Clifford, according to Weisberg, “didn’t allege any kind of abuse.”
“The worst Trump had done, she said, was break promises she’d never believed he would fulfill,” Weisberg wrote. “She claimed he’d offered to buy her a condo in Tampa, Florida, and that he’d said he wanted to feature her as a contestant in an upcoming season of Celebrity Apprentice.”
Weisberg said he chose not to publish her story before the election because given the “torrent of accusations of s*xual abuse” against Trump, he “didn’t think an extramarital affair would be a highly significant story.”
The allegation that Trump had negotiated to buy Daniels’ silence was significant, Weisberg felt, but he could not independently confirm that part of the story.
Yet the Journal’s report of Trump’s alleged payment has not sparked the kind of firestorm it would have for another president.
“In any other administration, evidence that the president paid hush money to the star of ‘Good Will Humping’ during the election would be a scandal,” Michelle Goldberg wrote in an op-ed for the Times. “In this one it has, so far, elicited a collective shrug.”
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