The Wall Street Journal has quite the Friday afternoon scoop:
A lawyer for President Donald Trump arranged a $130,000 payment to a former adult-film star a month before the 2016 election as part of an agreement that precluded her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.
The lawyer in question is Michael Cohen, who has long been one of Trump’s closest associates, and the actress in question is Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. The Journal reports that Clifford has said privately that she had a “sexual encounter” (those are the Journal’s words) with Trump in July 2006; Cohen denied to the Journal that any such encounter took place.
Trump married the erstwhile Melania Knauss in January 2005, while the infamous “grab them by the pussy” Access Hollywood tape was recorded in September 2005. (Clifford is not said to allege any nonconsensual behavior on the president’s part.)
However intriguing, the revelation seems unlikely to affect Trump’s political standing given that he was elected with the public already knowing full well that he was a thrice-married womanizer who’d appeared in several soft-core porn videos. (Which might also explain why Clifford got such a relatively small settlement.) The Journal’s Friday article also notes that the paper itself reported just before the 2016 election that a Playboy model named Karen McDougal had received $150,000 from the Trump-friendly National Enquirer in order to bury her own story of an alleged 2006 affair with POTUS—a story that also mentioned Clifford’s reported allegation of an affair in an aside.
One more thing
You depend on Slate for sharp, distinctive coverage of the latest developments in politics and culture. Now we need to ask for your support.
Our work is more urgent than ever and is reaching more readers—but online advertising revenues don’t fully cover our costs, and we don’t have print subscribers to help keep us afloat. So we need your help. If you think Slate’s work matters, become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.Join Slate Plus