Not long after the magazine story was killed, Stormy Daniels says she was threatened by a man who approached her in Las Vegas. "A guy walked up on me and said to me, 'leave Trump alone. Forget the story.'" pic.twitter.com/JMskKQiYCi
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) March 25, 2018
Stormy Daniels has spoken.
The adult film actor, producer, and director sat down with Anderson Cooper on the March 25 episode of 60 Minutes, and she did not hold back. The greatly anticipated appearance came only weeks after President Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, sued Daniels for $20 million in damages for violating her nondisclosure agreement and mere days after Daniels's lawyer, Michael Avenatti, sent a cryptic, now-viral tweet about a disc associated with the interview.
Accordingly, the interview itself was both the Trump bombshell and nothingburger that many anticipated it to be. Daniels began her relationship with Trump when they met at a golf tournament, and it was her moxie that caught Trump's eye. Daniels then wooed Trump with her ability to stand up to the now-president when the two met in a hotel suite in July 2006; Trump — then aged 60 — bragged about a magazine cover he appeared on which prompted Daniels — then aged 27 — to reply with, "Someone should take that magazine and spank you with it." What came next? Trump dropped his pants and she gave him "a couple of swats." Trump then began to treat Daniels more appropriately, reportedly telling her, "Wow, you — you are special. You remind me of my daughter." The daughter in question is, of course, Ivanka Trump.
Daniels and Trump did indeed have sex, but Daniels noted that this isn't a #MeToo type of story: the relationship was consensual. "I didn't say no," she explained. "I'm not a victim." This July 2006 encounter was the only time the two had sex despite an encounter in July 2007 wherein Trump tried to initiate sex after inviting Daniels to his bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel to watch Shark Week.
When Donald Trump won the Republican nomination, Daniels says she started getting calls again with offers to tell her story. And she got one offer not to tell her story. Mr. Trump's attorney Michael Cohen agreed to pay $130K in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement. pic.twitter.com/HB98pik8bj
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) March 25, 2018
One of the biggest surprises of the interview, though, was when Daniels revealed how she has been repeatedly threatened and intimidated by Trump's team to keep quiet about her story. Daniels sold her story for $15,000 to InTouch in 2011, but said story was canned after Cohen threatened the magazine with a lawsuit. That same year, Daniels mentioned being intimidated in person when a man came up to Daniels and her daughter, saying, "Leave Trump alone. Forget the story," before noting, "That's a beautiful little girl; it would be a shame if something happened to her mom."
Similar threats ultimately caused Daniels to lie about the affair, noting that she felt as if she "had no choice" but to lie. Ultimately, the truth is only emerging now because Daniels is hoping to set her record straight, particularly in light of the 2016 payoff of $130,000 by Cohen. This payoff is significant because it was timed in the aftermath of the release of the now-infamous Entertainment Tonight tape and was an "in-kind contribution" to the Trump campaign. This is a problem, as former Federal Election Commission Chairman Trevor Potter explained to Cooper, that the donation might be illegal because it was "about $126,500 above what he's allowed to give."
While the interview may have been just an hour in the ongoing saga that has been years in the making, the moment is being interpreted in many ways. First, it seems to have done little to sway conservatives and Christians who support Trump — despite the fact that extramarital affairs and paying porn stars for silence are not traditionally seen as appropriate behavior. Analysts have observed that Daniels's story likely won't make a difference in this voting section because of their view of America as a Christian nation that harbors anti-Muslim sentiments. Commentators, like George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, reiterate this by boiling support down to one thing: Trump keeping his promises, particularly to protect Christian beliefs and freedoms.
Trump hasn't spoken about the interview directly, but supposedly subtweeted the happening by noting, "So much Fake News. Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate," before assuring followers that the country is "doing great." Cohen has also sent a cease and desist notice to Daniels in response to the interview's airing.
If anything, Daniels's story and situation with Trump have been amplified beyond what either party intended: the episode gave 60 Minutes its highest ratings in 10 years, drawing more than 23 million viewers.