It all started 17 years ago for former US President Donald Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada, where he met the then 27-year-old adult film star Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels in July 2006. Daniels recently gained more public attention for her alleged affair with Trump and how the 17-year-old meeting eventually resulted in the first ever indictment of a former US President. Speaking to The Times of London on Friday, Daniels called Trump’s indictment “vindication”. She, however, added that it was “bittersweet” since Trump has “done so much worse that he should have been taken down [for] before”.
Their court case went back and forth for some time until the indictment verdict finally came out. According to CNN, Trump faces more than 30 counts related to undisclosed business fraud in the indictment. The former president is expected to be arraigned in Manhattan criminal court next Tuesday.
The story of Daniels’ connection to Trump began in 2006 when she claims to have had a sexual encounter with him at a Lake Tahoe hotel, which Trump has denied. The alleged affair was not publicly known until the 2016 presidential election when the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, had paid Daniels $130,000 in hush money just weeks before the election. The payment was made in exchange for Daniels’ silence about the alleged affair as part of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) which she later contested.
What’s with the hush money?
Daniels’ story first gained widespread attention in January 2018 when the Wall Street Journal published an article about the payment. Shortly thereafter, she appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes” to discuss the alleged affair and the events leading up to the payment. The interview was watched by over 22 million people and quickly became a national sensation.
In response to the allegations, Trump denied having an affair with Daniels and claimed that the payment was made to protect his family from embarrassment, rather than to influence the election. He also claimed that he had no knowledge of the payment until after it was made.
The legal battle between Daniels and Trump over the NDA was complex and lasted for several years. In March 2018, Daniels filed a lawsuit against Trump seeking to have the NDA declared invalid, arguing that it was not enforceable because Trump had never signed it. In response, Trump’s lawyers argued that Daniels had already violated the agreement by publicly discussing the alleged affair and that she owed $20 million in damages.
Here’s all we know about Stormy Daniels
- Stephanie Clifford’s mother raised her after her parents divorced; she was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- She claimed in a 2018 memoir that she was sexually assaulted at age nine by an older guy and ignored by her family
- She was a good student and a horse enthusiast despite everything
- She first turned to striptease as a means of support initially
- Later on, she moved on to the adult film industry, where she rose to fame as an actor, director, and screenwriter while winning numerous honours
The Stormy Daniels scandal ultimately had significant political and cultural implications. It highlighted the pervasive issue of sexual misconduct and the use of non-disclosure agreements to cover up such behaviour. The controversy also underscored the growing divide in American politics and the fraught relationship between the media and the Trump administration.