Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who alleged in an unpublished 2011 In Touch interview that she had an affair with Donald Trump in the mid-2000s before reportedly being paid $130,000 in 2016 to keep quiet about it, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Tuesday night for one of the most frustrating interviews in the history of late night television. If Daniels was paid for her silence, the terms of her non-disclosure agreement must be pretty onerous, because although Kimmel used a large part of his show to try to get her to talk about her alleged affair with the president, she gave him as little information as possible. That’s more or less the tone set by the statement issued Tuesday afternoon, reportedly from Daniels, denying she had an affair with President Trump and ending with a hilarious bit of self promotion:
I will have no further comment on this matter. Please feel free to check me out on Instagram at @thestormydaniels.
But even while answering as few of Kimmel’s questions as she could, Daniels did seem to hint that the signature at the bottom of the statement was not genuine. Journalist Yashar Ali had noted on Twitter that Daniels’ signature on her statement Tuesday didn’t match the one on an earlier denial, or on her autographed photos:
Kimmel asked her about it, showing her the signatures on both statements and several signed headshots. Here’s how Daniels answered, or rather, didn’t answer:
Kimmel: Did you sign this letter that was released today?
Daniels: I don’t know, did I?
Kimmel: Wait a minute, that you can say, right?
Daniels: But that does not look like my signature, does it?
Kimmel: It doesn’t look like your signature. So you’re saying perhaps this letter was written and released without your approval.
She went on to affirmatively say that she didn’t know where the statement or signature came from. She also heavily hinted at the existence of a non-disclosure agreement about her affair with Trump:
Kimmel: I know you either do or don’t have a non-disclosure agreement. Which, if you didn’t have a non-disclosure agreement—do you have a non-disclosure agreement?
Daniels: Do I?
Kimmel: You can’t say whether you have a non-disclosure agreement. But! If you didn’t have a non-disclosure agreement, you most certainly could say, “I don’t have a non-disclosure agreement,” yes?
Daniels: You’re so smart, Jimmy.
Shortly after the interview aired, Daniels’ attorney began emailing journalists with a statement claiming that the signature on the statement was, indeed, Daniels’, and that she’d signed it in the presence of her lawyer and her manager:
Gina Rodriguez, incidentally, was the representative who confirmed the authenticity of Daniels’ suspiciously-signed statement to the Washington Post. It’s not entirely clear what’s going on here, but as an earlier segment on Kimmel’s show Tuesday night illustrated, it probably doesn’t matter much anyway. Kimmel had set up the sort of heartwarming “meet the people you’ve been demonizing” segment that’s been a staple of human interest television for decades:
We found some Americans who were very adamant they do not support DACA, and I introduced them to a real family whose future relies on it, to see if we could bring people together by bringing them face-to-face, and, well, here’s how that went.
“How that went” is that Kimmel’s panel of anti-DACA conservatives told a woman who was brought here by her parents at the age of two, to her face and in so many words, that she should be shipped back to Mexico while her fiancé—a natural-born citizen—served in the military overseas, and their child—also a citizen—stayed with a babysitter or something.
They weren’t really clear on the logistics, but only a few members of the panel were even willing to concede that there was anything unfair about the situation. “I would get an immigration attorney,” one woman helpfully offered to the couple, who have one. A guy in a “Make California Great Again” hat and a shirt memorializing Ruben Morfin offered this story of unbridled assholery as evidence of his reasonableness:
There was a young man, he was 22 years old, at UC Irvine. And I spoke to him calmly and cogently. And I said, “You are here illegally. This is not your country.”
Kimmel cut him off before he could get to whatever the point was: “I’m trying to imagine you as a little boy,” he told him. “Yeah. I think I can.” The other MAGA hat guy got very arm-wavy at the injustice of the whole thing:
When she was brought here, the minute she came over that border, overstayed? Illegal. She’s in violation of the constitution, no matter how it is.
“They get everything free,” another woman added. The woman who had suggested hiring an attorney pronounced, in the absence of any evidence, “Options for her are available. I do not think that she will be deported.” It’s all third-person—she, her, they—even though the family whose fate they were discussing was right there, in the same room, looking them in the face. The one woman who seemed at all persuadable made it clear that what she wanted was to avoid conflict and look good on television, making this bizarre Dale-Carnegie-style plea for unity on the grounds of blind patriotism:
Jimmy, we can agree to disagree, but I know that you will concur with me that we live in the most loving, compassionate, and exceptional country.
Kimmel wasn’t having it. “No, I don’t agree with that,” he told them. “I think this country has become cruel.” Given the way the panel acted, it’s hard to disagree: they came off as impervious to reason and compassion both. The entire segment was more disheartening than the interview with the adult film star the President allegedly had an affair with, then paid off to keep quiet. In fact, it made unraveling the whole Stormy Daniels situation seem pointless. If those people are the country, who cares what its president does?