In ‘60 Minutes’ interview, Stormy Daniels says threats kept her quiet about alleged Trump affair
WASHINGTON — Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who alleges that she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006, said she was threatened for attempting to tell her story publicly and accepted money through a Trump attorney to remain silent because she was scared for her family.
In a much-anticipated ‘‘60 Minutes’’ interview, Daniels said she believed she was doing the right thing when she accepted $130,000 from a company linked to Trump attorney Michael Cohen to stay quiet. The hush agreement allowed her to protect her career and her family, she said. And she was concerned about her family’s safety after a scary episode in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011, shortly after she first tried to sell her story to a tabloid magazine.
Daniels said she was taking her infant daughter out of the car to go to a fitness class when she was approached. ‘‘A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,’ ” Daniels told journalist Anderson Cooper. ‘‘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 didn’t know the man, and she provided no evidence to back up her claim. But she said she remained fearful over the years. After The Wall Street Journal reported on the $130,000 payment, Daniels signed what she now describes as a false statement denying the affair.
On ‘‘60 Minutes,’’ she said she signed the statement under pressure from her former lawyer and business manager.
‘‘They made it sound like I had no choice,’’ she said.
While there was no threat of physical violence at the time, she said, she was worried about other repercussions. ‘‘The exact sentence used was, ‘They can make your life hell in many different ways,’ ’’ Daniels said.
‘‘They being . . . ?’’ Cooper asked.
‘‘I’m not exactly sure who they were. I believe it to be Michael Cohen,’’ Daniels replied.
Neither Cohen nor his lawyer could be reached immediately for comment. He told Politico earlier this month that he has ‘‘never threatened her in any way and I am unaware of anyone else doing so.’’ Before the broadcast, Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s attorney, said repeatedly that his client would talk about threats she received.
Daniels’s former business manager did not comment. Her former attorney, Keith Davidson, said he cannot speak publicly until Daniels waives attorney-client privilege, but he does not believe her assertions on ‘‘60 Minutes’’ ‘‘represent a fair and accurate description of the situation.’’ The White House did not respond to a request for comment Sunday.
A spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump chastised the media late Sunday and urged outlets to keep the couple’s young son out of the story.
While I know the media is enjoying speculation & salacious gossip, Id like to remind people there’s a minor child who’s name should be kept out of news stories when at all possible.— Stephanie Grisham (@StephGrisham45) March 26, 2018
Asked by Cooper why she took the legally risky route of speaking out, she said, “I was perfectly fine saying nothing at all, but I’m not OK with being made out to be a liar.”
The ‘‘60 Minutes’’ broadcast comes 72 hours after former Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal spoke to CNN about her own alleged affair with Trump. McDougal has sued to break free of a confidentiality agreement struck in the months before the 2016 election, for which she was paid $150,000. She said she signed her contract with the parent company of the National Enquirer, which is helmed by a friend of Trump’s, and which bought her story not to publish it but to bury it.
Both women say their relationships with Trump began in 2006 and ended in 2007 and that they were paid for their silence in the months before the 2016 presidential election.
Representatives of Trump have dismissed the allegations of McDougal and Daniels, saying that the affairs never happened and that Trump had no knowledge of any payments.
The interviews come after a judge last week let a defamation suit filed by former ‘‘Apprentice’’ contestant Summer Zervos move forward. Zervos alleges Trump groped her.
Trump and his wife were 1,000 miles apart as Daniels told her story: Shortly before the interview aired on Sunday, Trump flew back to Washington from a weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago. First lady Melania Trump remained in Florida, where she usually spends spring break, according to a spokeswoman.
Trump complained to associates at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend about the attention that the media has given Daniels, according to people familiar with the conversations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid.
On ‘‘60 Minutes,’’ Daniels described meeting Trump at his Lake Tahoe hotel room in 2006, during a celebrity golf tournament weekend. When she asked about Melania — to whom he had been married less than two years, and with whom he had an infant son — he did not want to talk about it, Daniels said. “He brushed it aside, said, ‘Oh yeah, yeah, you know, don’t worry about that. We don’t even — we have separate rooms and stuff.’ ’’
Daniels said that Trump had invited her to his hotel suite for dinner and that their banter began with him talking alot about himself and showing her a magazine cover featuring his photograph. “I was like, ‘Someone should take that magazine and spank you with it,”’ she said. “So he turned around and pulled his pants down a little — you know, had underwear on and stuff, and I just gave him a couple swats.” It was done in a joking manner, she said.
They spent several hours together, and he told her that he wanted to get her onto the ‘‘Apprentice,’’ his reality TV show. Then Daniels went to the bathroom, and when she returned, he was sitting on the bed.
‘‘I realized exactly what I’d gotten myself into. And I was like, ‘Ugh, here we go,’ ’’ Daniels told ‘‘60 Minutes.’’ She said she was not attracted to him but had gotten herself into a ‘‘bad situation.’’ She said she didn’t want to have sex with Trump but considered it consensual.
Trump called her frequently over the next year, and she saw him a few times but they never again had sex, she said. In July 2007, about a year after they met, he asked her to meet him at the Beverly Hills Hotel to discuss a development related to “The Apprentice.’’ They spent hours together, with Trump talking about ‘‘how great it was the last time,’’ Daniels said.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, told her story in 2011, when she gave an interview to the tabloid In Touch. But that interview — which allegedly sparked the threat in Las Vegas — was not published.
Just days before the 2016 election, Daniels was paid $130,000 in exchange for her silence, the lawsuit says.
Material from The New York Times was used in this report.