Sunday

May 27th, 2018

Insight

4 takeaways from Stormy Daniels' '60 Minutes' interview

Callum Borchers

By Callum Borchers The Washington Post

Published March 26,2018

Porn star Stormy Daniels appeared Sunday on "60 Minutes" to offer her account of an affair with President Donald Trump that she says began in 2006. Here are four big takeaways from her sit-down with Anderson Cooper.


• She is highly aware of the reasons people might doubt her story


Daniels said she was not telling the truth when she denied the affair with Trump but is telling the truth now. Cooper read Daniels one of her multiple, prior denials and said, "That's a lie?"


"Yes," Daniels replied flatly.


Daniels said in 2011 that an Internet rumor about an affair with Trump was "bulls--t." She also denied the affair twice in written statements in January.


"I think there's no question that it calls into question her credibility," Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said of the change to her story. "I also think that there's no question that when the American people take all of the facts and evidence into consideration, that they are going to conclude that this woman is telling the truth."


Daniels insisted that she is not motivated by money - she was not paid for the "60 Minutes" interview - but acknowledged that she previously considered selling her story for "large amounts of money."


"Was I tempted?" she said. "Yes."


Daniels also freely admitted to taking advantage of financial opportunities since the Wall Street Journal broke the story in January about the $130,000 payment she received to stay quiet days before Election Day 2016.


"Yes, I'm getting more job offers now, but tell me one person who would turn down a job offer making more than they've been making, doing the same thing that they've always done," she said.



Future polling will likely tell us whether Daniels and her lawyer are right about public opinion. In the meantime, they are open-eyed about the doubts raised by profiting from an altered account.

• Daniels said she was physically threatened in 2011


A blog called the Dirty published what appears to have been the first report of an affair involving Daniels and Trump in October 2011. Bauer Publishing, which prints supermarket tabloids, also reported around the same time that Trump had cheated on his wife, Melania, with Daniels.


Trump attorney Michael Cohen denied the reports and threatened to sue Bauer, which had conducted an interview with Daniels months earlier but did not publish any of her comments until January 2018, when it posted a full transcript on the website of In Touch magazine.


Daniels told "60 Minutes" that she was threatened a short time after giving the interview to Bauer.


"I was in a parking lot," Daniels said, "going to a fitness class with my infant daughter ... 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."


Daniels did not claim to know who the man was working for.

• Daniels won't say whether she possesses text messages or photos that would back up her account of an affair


A lawsuit Daniels filed on March 6, attempting to void a nondisclosure agreement, refers to "certain still images and/or text messages which were authored by or relate to" Trump. The contract required Daniels to turn over all such documents and not keep copies of her own. But did she keep copies, anyway? Do texts and photos even exist?


"My attorney has recommended that I don't discuss those things," Daniels said.


Cooper said to Avenatti, "You could just be bluffing."


"You should ask some of the other people in my career when they've bet on me bluffing," Avenatti said.


It is clear that Team Daniels wants Team Trump - and the public - to think there are incriminating photos and text messages. But there is no sign of them yet.

• Daniels does not want to be part of #MeToo, and #MeToo might not want her anymore, either


"A lotta people are using you for a lotta different agendas," Cooper observed.


"They're trying to," Daniels replied. "Like, oh, you know, 'Stormy Daniels comes out #MeToo.' This is not a 'me too.' I was not a victim. I've never said I was a victim. I think trying to use me to further someone else's agenda does horrible damage to people who are true victims."


If Daniels has felt pressured into representing #MeToo, she might find the pressure lifted after saying this about giving in to sex with Trump against her wishes: "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.' "


Daniels' self-described mentality - that she "had it coming" - is the sort of thinking #MeToo aims to eradicate.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles