Who Is Stormy Daniels?
Stormy Daniels is an adult film star whose alleged affair with Donald Trump in 2006 became a major scandal — with potential legal implications for the president and his attorney .
Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump
Stormy Daniels has alleged she had an affair with Trump after the two met at the American Century celebrity golf tournament in July 2006. That weekend, according to Daniels’s account, the two had consensual sex in Trump’s hotel room. Daniels has said they continued to keep in touch through 2007, in part because Trump had offered to have Daniels join him on NBC’s The Apprentice (an appearance that did not happen). Trump, whose wife Melania had given birth to their son months before the alleged sexual encounter, has denied that any affair took place.
In 2011 Daniels spoke with a reporter about the alleged affair, though the interview remained unpublished until In Touch released it in 2018. In 2016, before the presidential election, Daniels was talking to media outlets, including ABC’s Good Morning America, about sharing her story. However, instead of coming forward she decided to accept a $130,000 payment for signing an agreement not to discuss her relationship with Trump.
The payout, the offer, and the interview
No one knows what really happened between Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump except the two of them. That being said, Daniels has offered to return the $130,000 she was allegedly paid for her silence in order for her to talk about what happened. She’s also about to give a tell-all interview on 60 Minutes.
In January 2018, the Wall Street Journal published an article about this non-disclosure agreement and the alleged sexual encounter. After this, Daniels initially denied any such encounter with Trump had taken place, going so far as to sign a statement to this effect. However, she has since said that the alleged affair did in fact happen, and that she had been pressured to stay silent and hide the truth. Her lawyer has filed a lawsuit to have her released from the NDA, and she has offered to return the $130,000 she was paid.
‘In Touch’ Interview
In 2011 Daniels spoke to Life & Style, a sister publication of In Touch, about her relationship with Trump. For this she was promised a payment of $15,000. The publication also spoke to people connected to Daniels who were able to confirm some of the details in her version of events. But before any article was published in 2011, Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen reportedly threatened a lawsuit and the story was dropped (and Daniels did not receive the $15,000 payment).
After the 2018 Wall Street Journal story about the $130,000 payout to Daniels, In Touch published the 2011 interview. In it, Daniels says that Trump once told her she was beautiful and smart like his daughter, Ivanka. Daniels also revealed that although she’d enjoyed talking to Trump, she hadn’t been physically attracted to him when she consented to have sex.
After the Wall Street Journal article, Daniels initially denied having an affair with Trump (Trump’s camp also strongly denied that there was any relationship between the two). In February 2018, Cohen admitted he’d made the $130,000 payment; he also stated he’d used his own personal funds, and that neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign had been involved.
From there, Daniels began granting interviews, including an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on January 30, 2018, after Trump’s State of the Union address. In February, following the terms of the NDA, Cohen went to a private arbitrator to stop Daniels from speaking about her relationship with Trump; a temporary restraining order was granted.
On March 6th, Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti (who was not representing her when the NDA was signed in 2016), filed a lawsuit to have the NDA dismissed, as Trump had never signed the contract (the agreement uses the pseudonyms Peggy Peterson for Daniels and David Dennison for Trump, and there are places marked for “Dennison” to sign). The suit also states that some of Cohen’s public statements violated the NDA.
In addition to arguing that Trump didn’t need to sign the NDA, Cohen’s side has put forth that by accepting the payment and not contesting the contract for months, Daniels acknowledged its validity. In March, a suit was filed against Daniels calling for $20 million in damages for violating the NDA on multiple occasions (the penalty outlined in the agreement was for Daniels to pay $1 million for each breach). Trump has joined this case.
On April 5, 2018, while aboard Air Force One, Trump told reporters he’d been unaware of the payment Cohen made to Daniels for signing the NDA, and had no knowledge of where the money came from. Trump’s admission may work in Daniels’s favor — as the contract makes promises that only Trump himself could provide, the statement could provide grounds for Avenatti to depose both Cohen and Trump.
New Suit Against Trump
After a California judge halted her lawsuit against Cohen for 90 days while a criminal investigation of him proceeded in New York, Daniels in April 2018 launched a new suit through her attorney, Avenatti, that charged President Trump with defamation.
The suit focused on the president’s attempts to discredit her account of being confronted in a parking lot, including his April 18 tweet that mocked the composite sketch of her alleged assailant as a “total con job.” According to Avenatti and Daniels, she suffered more than $75,000 in damages as a result of his actions.
“It was apparent that Mr. Trump meant to convey that Ms. Clifford is a liar, someone who should not be trusted, that her claims about the threatening encounter are false, and that she was falsely accusing the individual depicted in the sketch of committing a crime, where no crime had been committed,” the suit said. “Mr. Trump made his statement either knowing it was false, had serious doubts about the truth of his statement, or made the statement with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity.”
Following months of denials and mixed messages about so-called hush money, Donald Trump‘s newly released financial disclosure forms document for the first time that he reimbursed 2016 “expenses” of more than $100,000 by his personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
Now, government watchdogs want to know why the payment wasn’t disclosed a year ago.
While the mandatory, annual filing does not specify what the payment was for, Rudy Giuliani has previously said that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 he had paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump. Trump has denied the affair.
Stormy Daniels Sues Trump’s Lawyer Michael Cohen for Defamation
“In 2016 expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump’s attorneys, Michael Cohen,” Trump reported in a note at the bottom of Page 45 of the 92-page Personal Financial Disclosure report. “Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Cohen in 2017. The category of value would be $100,001 to $250,000 and the interest rate would be zero.”
Cohen has admitted paying the settlement Daniels, made days before the 2016 election. Daniels claimed it was made to keep her silent about her 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.
Trump told reporters in April aboard Air Force One he did not know about the 2016 payment to Daniels, which Cohen said he made through money obtained through his home-equity line of credit and for which he had not been reimbursed.
“The disclosure flies in the face of what Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen have been trying to tell the American people for months, and it directly contradicts Mr. Trump’s videotaped comments on Air Force One back in early April,” Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, tells PEOPLE.
“The American people deserve the truth,” Avenatti continues, “and they deserve to have elected leaders and those close to those elected leaders not lying to them and covering up facts.”
The president’s disclosure form stated that his reimbursement of Cohen was listed “in the interest in transparency” and not required “to be disclosed as reportable liabilities.”
However, the Office of Government Ethics released a letter dated on Wednesday to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein saying that it had concluded that Trump was required to disclose this liability owed to Cohen.
The Office of Government Ethics letter was in response to a complaint filed by the watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). CREW asserts that Trump should have reported the payments to Cohen in last year’s financial disclosures.
Norm Eisen, the former ethics czar in the Obama White House who founded CREW, tells PEOPLE that Trump’s disclosure “demonstrates we are right.”
“We at CREW were the first to identify when the Stormy story broke that the president had omitted his debt to Michael Cohen for the hush money payment from his financial disclosures that he filed last year,” Eisen says.
“That is a very serious omission. Those financial disclosures are signed by the president under the false-statements penalty,” Eisen continues. “Potentially lying on there is a felony.”
The letter also notes that the OGE is sending Rosenstein last year’s disclosure forms with the missing information and this year’s forms with the included information for its relevance to any inquiry Rosenstein may be pursuing.
“Potentially,” Eisen says, “the president could be looking at yet another criminal investigation.”
Eisen adds that “for the first time in American history, there’s been a referral to the Department of Justice of a president’s failures on a financial disclosure form.”
“I feel sad for the country that we have a president who is apparently so dishonest,’ Eisen says. “But I feel gratified for the rule of law that, in our country, nobody is above the law and even the president is accountable to these rules.”
The white house saga on Stormy Daniel’s case
Stormy, meanwhile, isn’t going away. On Tuesday, Clifford’s lawyer filed a civil suit in Los Angeles arguing that, because Trump did not personally sign the non-disclosure agreement she was presented with in 2016 at the time of payment, their hush agreement is null and void. And though the suit ostensibly takes aim at Trump, with Clifford threatening to tell all, it’s Cohen, yet again, who is caught in the crossfire. Among other things, the suit claims that Cohen used “intimidation and coercive” tactics to force Clifford to sign a statement denying she had an affair with the president when the story broke in January. According to the suit, a month later Cohen issued a public statement denying the existence of a hush agreement without Daniels’s consent, which her lawyers argue broke the terms of the agreement, anyway.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered an odd non-denial Wednesday, claiming both that she doesn’t know anything about the $130,000 payment but also that the case “has already been won in arbitration”—two statements that seem to be in conflict. She reiterated that “the president has denied the allegations against him,” another curious turn of phrase.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders white house press secretary
Cohen, who has previously declined to comment on the Daniels saga, except to acknowledge that the payment was made, to deny that Trump had an affair, and to assert that he did “absolutely nothing wrong,” directed The Hive to a new statement Wednesday from his own personal lawyer: “The Settlement Agreement contained an arbitration clause that permitted EC, LLC. to seek an injunction in the event of a breach or threatened breach of the agreement,” writes Lawrence Rosen, referring to the shell company Cohen reportedly created to pay Daniels. “The designated judge from the arbitration tribunal found that Ms. Clifford had violated the agreement and enjoined her from, among other things, filing this lawsuit. We intend to pursue our recourse in the context of the arbitration as agreed to by the parties and continue to categorically refute the claims alleged by Ms. Clifford and her counsel.”
Taking advantage of her moment in the spotlight, Daniels in June 2018 announced that she would be debuting a new perfume, called “Truth.” The gender-neutral fragrance will be distributed by the erotic novelty brand It’s the Bomb, though a release date, cost and other details had yet to be revealed at the time of the product announcement.
Since making her first pornographic film in 2002 (she appeared in a lesbian scene), Daniels has climbed to the pinnacle of the adult film industry; she’s been inducted into three halls of fame and has received numerous awards. In addition to acting, she’s a successful writer and director.
For years Daniels was a contract player with Wicked Pictures, a leading brand in adult entertainment. When she wanted to have a child, she coordinated with the studio to ensure that motherhood wouldn’t overly disrupt her career: before getting pregnant she made twice as many movies than usual, which ensured new releases would still arrive during her maternity leave. In January 2018, Daniels signed with Digital Playground, another well-known studio in the industry.
Among Daniels’ films are Good Will Humping and Space Nuts. She wrote, directed and starred in the award-winning Wanted, a Western epic. And she brought her equine interests into Unbridled, a film about equestrian competitions that she acted in, wrote and directed.
Daniels was 17 when she first started stripping. Already called Stormy in her daily life, it became her stage name; she sometimes went by Stormy Waters before taking inspiration from Jack Daniels whiskey to become Stormy Daniels. She worked her way up to headlining at strip clubs, then started working in pornography.
Daniels continued stripping while working in porn, and the 2018 coverage of her alleged affair with Trump enabled to increase her appearance fees for a national strip club tour. She defended this to Rolling Stone, saying, “We live in a capitalist society. I think if anyone, in any field, was approached and someone said, ‘Hi! You know that job you are already doing? Would you like to do it next week for quadruple your normal pay?’ Show me one person who would say no.”
In addition to adult entertainment, Daniels has been seen in films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Pineapple Express. Other credits include the television shows Party Downand Dirt, and a music video for Maroon 5’s “Wake Up Call.”
Producer and director Judd Apatow has praised Daniels, telling Conan O’Brien, “She’s very nice and super smart and great to work with so we just kept asking her to be in all of our movies.”
Stormy Daniels was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on March 17, 1979.
Daniels’ parents, Sheila Gregory and Bill Gregory, divorced when she was a toddler. She was raised by her mother in Baton Rouge; her father had little involvement in her upbringing.
Daniels was a member of the Class of 1997 at Scotlandville Magnet High School. Though she was accepted by several colleges, she decided to become a stripper instead.
In 2009 Daniels launched a committee to explore becoming a Senate candidate in her home state of Louisiana. Republican Senator David Vitter, a social conservative who’d been involved in the “D.C. Madam” prostitution scandal, was then running for re-election; Daniels took aim at her opponent with the campaign slogan “Screwing People Honestly.” (At the time, political consultants working with Daniels learned she had Trump’s name among her phone contacts, and she reportedly shared details about the alleged affair.)
In 2009, during this exploratory phase, Daniels was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge, which was later dropped. She ended her campaign in April 2010, blaming campaign expenses for her withdrawal. She also vowed to “keep fighting so that one day the voices of the dishwashers, cashiers, bus drivers and porn stars will be heard just as loudly as those of the lawyer, the banker and the insurance company executive.”
Daniels loved horses as a young girl, and that affection continued into her adult years. She owns several horses and is a nationally ranked equestrian.
Daniels is no longer in touch with her parents. She has been married three times, and shares a daughter with her third husband. They live in a Dallas suburb.
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