Stormy Daniels was allegedly paid to keep quiet about her relationship with President Donald Trump. Despite that, on March 25, she sat down with Anderson Cooper to lay out her side of the story in full. During that interview, Stormy Daniels claimed to 60 Minutes that she was threatened to keep silent over her alleged affair with now-President Donald Trump. Trump has previously denied having an affair with Daniels.
In her interview, Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, claimed that she was threatened by an unknown man in 2011 for agreeing to talk about her alleged affair. Daniels claimed on 60 Minutes that as she got out of her car for a fitness class with her infant daughter, a man approached her and told her to "leave Trump alone" before referencing her daughter in a threat.
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 said she took it as a "direct threat," though she added that she did not know the person and did not go to the police because she was scared. Elite Daily has reached out to the White House for comment regarding Daniels' claims, but has not heard back at time of publication.
After Trump won the Republican Nomination, Daniels said her lawyers called with an offer. Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, was offering $130,000 in return for Daniels signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), according to 60 Minutes.
Daniels said she signed the agreement and took the money because she was afraid for her safety and worried about the effects the story would have on her child.
This agreement holds a lot more weight considering the timing.
Daniels was given the payment just 11 days before the 2016 presidential election, which might violate campaign finance laws. In the wake of news over the agreement, Cohen claimed that he gave the money from his own pocket and it was not a campaign contribution. Cohen also said at the time that neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign were involved in the payment, although he was later heard complaining about not being reimbursed by Trump, according to reports. (Cohen called said reports "fake news" in a two-word statement.) According to Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, that doesn't let Cohen off the hook. Potter told Cooper,
It's a $130,000 in-kind contribution by Cohen to the Trump campaign, which is about $126,500 above what he's allowed to give. And if he does this on behalf of his client, the candidate, that is a coordinated, illegal, in-kind contribution by Cohen for the purpose of influencing the election, of benefiting the candidate by keeping this secret.
Cohen would not talk to 60 Minutes about the agreement or his contribution. But earlier this week in an interview with Vanity Fair, Cohen said that he was helping Trump and it had nothing to do with the closeness of the election. Cohen told Vanity Fair,
Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump Campaign… reimbursed me for the payment. What I did defensively for my personal client, and my friend, is what attorneys do for their high-profile clients. I would have done it in 2006. I would have done it in 2011. I truly care about him and the family — more than just as an employee and an attorney.
Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, was on hand to give comment to Cooper on Cohen's actions. "It's laughable. It's ludicrous. It's preposterous," he said. Avenatti continued,
It's just a coincidence that, in the waning days of the campaign, he thought to himself, 'Oh, you know, I know I've been thinkin' about this for years. Perhaps now is a good time to get that NDA executed with Stormy Daniels.'
Avenatti told Cooper that he doesn't at all believe Cohen was working outside the campaign and on his own accord. He told Cooper,
This is about the cover-up. This is about the extent that Mr. Cohen and the president have gone to intimidate this woman, to silence her, to threaten her, and to put her under their thumb. It is thuggish behavior from people in power. And it has no place in American democracy.
Avenatti is currently in the process of suing Trump, looking to have Daniels' NDA declared invalid, partly on the grounds that Trump himself didn't sign it.
As it stands now, according to Daniels, Trump's lawyers have threatened her with financial ruin, claiming that if she would be liable for one million dollars in fines every time she told the story of the alleged affair. According to Vanity Fair, Daniels could owe more than $20 million. Cohen even joked that he would take a "vacation on her dime."
Avenatti believes that it's just a scare tactic to threaten Daniels and keep her from speaking. Avenatti told Cooper,
There's no question. You threaten someone — with a $20 million lawsuit, it's a thuggish tactic. It's no different than what happened in the parking lot in Las Vegas.
Unless Avenati can get the NDA thrown out, Daniels might be facing an onslaught of lawsuits from Cohen. Regardless of danger, though, Daniels felt that she had no choice but to appear on 60 Minutes and tell her story. "It was very important to me to be able to defend myself, " Daniels told Cooper.
Now we know her side of the story. We will have to follow along to see what comes of her time on 60 Minutes.