Porn star plans to discuss affair
NEW YORK — Stormy Daniels, the porn star whom Donald Trump's attorney acknowledges paying $130,000 just before Election Day, believes she is now free to discuss an alleged sexual encounter with the man who is now president, her manager told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
At the same time, developments in the bizarre case are fueling questions about whether such a payment could violate federal campaign finance laws.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, believes that Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, invalidated a non-disclosure agreement after two news stories were published Tuesday: one in which Cohen told The New York Times he made the six-figure payment with his personal funds, and another in the Daily Beast, which reported that Cohen was shopping a book proposal that would touch on Daniels' story, said the manager, Gina Rodriguez.
"Everything is off now, and Stormy is going to tell her story," Rodriguez said.
At issue is what, exactly, happened inside a Lake Tahoe, Nevada, hotel room in 2006 between Trump, then a reality TV star, and Clifford, who was promoting a porn production company during a celebrity golf tournament.
In the years since, Clifford has claimed that she and Trump had sex once and then carried on a subsequent yearslong platonic relationship. But she has also, through a lawyer, denied the two had an affair. Trump's lawyer, Cohen, has denied there was ever an affair.
In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that a limited liability company in Delaware formed by Cohen made the six-figure payment to the actress to keep her from discussing the affair.
Cohen said the payment was made with his own money, and that "neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly."
He was responding to inquiries from the Federal Election Commission, which is investigating an advocacy group's complaint that the October 2016 transaction violated campaign finance laws.
The case was reminiscent of the 2012 prosecution of former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards, who faced six criminal charges after a pair of his wealthy friends spent nearly $1 million to support his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, during his 2008 presidential run.
But Bradley Smith, the Republican chairman of the Federal Election Commission from 2000 to 2005, was skeptical that the payment by Cohen could pose a campaign finance issue.
"You'd have to prove that it was a coordinated expenditure, and that the reason it was done was for the benefit of the campaign," he said.
At the time of the payment, Clifford was negotiating with multiple national news networks about telling her story.
Rodriguez said her client will soon announce how and when she will tell her story publicly.