News headlines have been dominated in the past weeks by the alleged affair President Trump had with adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2006. The allegations come as Daniels filed a lawsuit against the president claiming that the non-disclosure agreement she signed is invalid because it is missing then-candidate Trump’s signature.
She claims that she is legally allowed to speak about the affair. However, the president’s spokesperson has denied the allegations and says the non-disclosure agreement is valid because the president’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, signed the contract on behalf of Trump just a week and a half before the 2016 election. Cohen also has said he personally paid Daniels the $130,000 stated in the contract to keep her silence.
Last night a 60 Minutes interview aired in which Daniels gave more details on the night of the alleged sexual encounter. Although the story is very much like tabloid gossip, there is one big reason to care, and that is the $130,000 Cohen paid to Daniels.
There are questions on the legality of the payment, since it was done 11 days before the 2016 presidential election from Cohen’s personal funds. It is unclear if the payment can be considered a campaign contribution. At the time of the payment, candidate Trump was facing a PR nightmare in which multiple women had come out accusing him of sexual misconduct and the release of the infamous Hollywood Access Tape. The legal trouble for the president would be if his campaign refunded Cohen in any manner. Watchdog groups say that if he did it could be considered an illegal contribution.
Although Daniels claims to have proof of the affair she and her lawyer have refused to make that information public. The definitive answer to this legal quandary will most likely come as the lawsuit progresses in the court system.
Aside from the $130,000, another reason to care is the allegations Daniels made about threats received from presumably Cohen. After she tried to sell her story of the affair to a sister publications of In Touch magazine she claims she was threatened in a parking lot.
The transcript reads:
Stormy Daniels: “I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. T-- taking, you know, the seats facing backwards in the backseat, diaper bag, you know, gettin' all the stuff out. And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone.”
Anderson Cooper: You took it as a direct threat?
Stormy Daniels: Absolutely.
Stormy Daniels: I was rattled. I remember going into the workout class. And my hands are shaking so much, I was afraid I was gonna-- drop her.
Anderson Cooper: Did you ever see that person again?
Stormy Daniels: No. But I-- if I did, I would know it right away.
Anderson Cooper: You'd be able to-- you'd be able to recognize that person?
Stormy Daniels: 100 percent. Even now, all these years later. If he walked in this door right now, I would instantly know.
Anderson Cooper: Did you go to the police?
Stormy Daniels: No.
Anderson Cooper: Why?
Stormy Daniels: Because I was scared.
If these allegations are true they could come up in the lawsuit and bring further issues to the president.
For the moment Cohen’s attorney, Brent Blakely, sent a letter to Daniels attorney, Michael Avenatti, stating that Cohen had nothing to do with the alleged threat and asked that Daniels refrain from suggesting so because it is “false and defamatory” for Cohen.
Additionally, Daniels could be charged $1 million for breaking the non-disclosure agreement for giving the interview, if said agreement is found to be legitimate. Daniels seemed confident giving the interview and said “He knows I’m telling the truth,” when asked to address the president in the case he was watching.