Adult film star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, enticed the media yesterday by claiming that she was ready to “spill the beans” about her alleged 2006 extramarital affair with Trump now that his lawyer, Michael Cohen, had violated a non-disclosure agreement with her. Early this week, Cohen admitted to the New York Times that he had paid Daniels $130,000 one week before the election to not go public, but claimed that he had done so on his own volition and was never reimbursed by the Trump campaign, effectively shielding the president from any legal action.
Later, Daniels’ lawyer confirmed the reports that her client was ready to talk to the press, saying, “everything is off now and Stormy is going to tell her story.” Reports also suggested that Daniels had in her possession a dress she wore during one of her alleged encounters with Trump, a DNA testing of which could prove if her version of the events was accurate or not.
The New Yorker claimed on Friday morning that a former Playboy Playmate, Karen McDougal, also had an alleged affair with Trump during the same time in 2006, when Melania was pregnant with Barron Trump. McDougal was reportedly paid $150,000 for the story by the National Enquirer, but it was never published.
As if these developments about his private life were not enough to impact Donald Trump’s allegedly frail relationship with Melania, now it appears he is going to get hit with a legal strike as well, as reported by the Hill.
— The Hill (@thehill) February 16, 2018
According to the report, liberal watchdog group Common Cause has filed two separate complaints with the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission, alleging that the $130,000 paid by Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels — campaign donation or not — was nevertheless tantamount to an in-kind campaign contribution.
“As Trump’s personal attorney, Cohen was an agent of then-candidate Trump. The timing and circumstances of the $130,000 payment to Daniels make it appear that the hush money was paid to Daniels in an effort to influence the election. Any payment by a person such as Cohen on behalf of or in consultation with a candidate to influence an election is an in-kind ‘contribution’ to the candidate under campaign finance law subject to a $2,700 limit and disclosure requirements.”
The watchdog wants the Justice Department to fully investigate both sides of the claim under oath. Although the possibility of the DOJ entertaining this legal claim appears slim as of now, any sort of acknowledgment could damage Trump, who is already being advised not to speak with special counsel Robert Mueller by his lawyers. It could most likely also have a negative impact on the GOP’s chance in the midterms, said Jennifer Lawless, who heads American University’s Women and Politics Institute.
“Trump’s level of support among women voters has gone down and these issues have a lot to do with it. But more importantly for Republicans, it drives up Democratic turnout that leads to the kinds of outcomes we saw recently in Virginia.”
But a former member of the Trump transition team quashed such observations, saying the latest legal twist to the Stormy Daniels story will have no impact on Trump’s voters.
“The media’s ability to impact public sentiment has been so completely diminished that this will have no impact on Trump’s numbers,” he said.