After last night’s 60 Minutes interview, it’s clear that the story Stormy Daniels, her lawyer, and CBS are peddling has three elements: sex, campaign finance law, and intimidation. Let’s look at all three.
Daniels’ claim that she had sex with Donald Trump is more than credible given the money she was paid to keep quiet about it. The idea that Trump would have extra-marital sex just months after his wife gave birth is revolting. However, in the post-Bill Clinton/pussy-grab era, I question whether the sex side of this story has much resonance.
What about the claim that campaign finance law was violated when Trump’s lawyer paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet? The theory is that this was a campaign contribution well in excess of what the lawyer was allowed to donate.
We may see Democrats push this theory during impeachment proceedings if they win control of the House. However, I don’t think it moves the needle.
The claim that someone threatened Daniels and her child if the porn star didn’t keep quiet about her relations with Trump would raise very serious concerns if true and if Trump authorized or knew about it. However, so far as I know, we have only Daniels’ word that she was threatened, and no evidence that Trump authorized or knew about any threats.
It’s possible that Daniels was threatened and that Trump was involved. However, I don’t take her word for it. She is not a credible witness.
For one thing, Daniels took $130,000 in exchange for not talking about her relations with Trump, and then talked about them. That’s reason enough not to trust her.
For another, Daniels has previously stated that she didn’t have sex with Trump. Now she says she did. This is not an honest person.
In addition, some of what Daniels told CBS’s Anderson Cooper doesn’t pass the straight face test. When Cooper asked why Daniels consented to having sex with Trump, she said it was because she “had it coming.”
I realized exactly what I’d gotten myself into. And I was like, “Ugh, here we go.” (laugh) And I just felt like maybe– (laugh) it was sort of– I had it coming for making a bad decision for going to someone’s room alone and I just heard the voice in my head, “well, you put yourself in a bad situation and bad things happen, so you deserve this.”
That’s ridiculous. Daniels was under no obligation to have sex with Trump merely because she went to his room alone. And Daniels has a strong will — that’s apparent from the rest of the interview. She could have walked out of Trump’s room, and surely would have had she not seen an advantage in staying for sex.
The advantage may have been sexual pleasure. It may have been the opportunity to do business with Trump, e.g., via an appearance on Celebrity Apprentice. In any case, the true reason why Daniels had sex with Trump was not that she considered it condign punishment for going to his room.
Daniels is dishonest. So is Trump. But she should bear the burden of proving that someone threatened her. In my view, she cannot meet that burden through her word alone.