Some awkwardness will be avoided at the White House Sunday night as President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump won’t be anywhere near each other when the highly anticipated 60 Minutes interview with Stormy Daniels airs. While the commander in chief will be back in the White House Sunday night, Melania Trump is scheduled to stay behind in Mar-a-Lago.
Knowing full well that the arrangement could raise some eyebrows, the White House insisted there was nothing strange about this. “The First Lady will be staying in Florida as is their tradition for spring break,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a late Sunday morning statement.
Although so far no one has said whether Trump will actually tune in to the interview with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, it does seem clear that the president is, at the very least, slightly worried. Trump complained to friends in Florida about all the attention Clifford has been receiving and he even asked a friend whether the whole controversy could affect his poll numbers, according to the Washington Post.
Even as he expresses some concern, the president is also making an effort to act a bit nonchalant about Clifford, who claimed she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Chris Ruddy, the founder and CEO of Newsmax told ABC’s This Week that Trump “said he thought that, that much of the Stormy Daniels stuff was a political hoax.” Ruddy emphasized that “those were his words.”
That interview prompted Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenetti, to write a response on Twitter. “Ms. Clifford’s claims are yet another “hoax”— similar to other infamous ‘hoaxes’ like the moon landing, 9/11, etc,” Avenetti wrote. “Is this, along with claims that I worked on some campaigns 25 yrs ago, the best you guys can come upon with to discredit us?”
A New York Times profile of Clifford describes how she worked her way up in an industry that is notoriously unfriendly to women and moved up from stripping to writing, directing, and starring in her own pornographic movies. Little wonder many have recognized her as a force to be reckoned with. “To many in the capital, Ms. Clifford, 39, has become an unexpected force. It is she, some in Washington now joke, and not the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who could topple Mr. Trump,” notes the Times.
On Twitter, Avenatti made clear that he and Clifford don’t know what CBS will choose to include in the broadcast but emphasized that “tonight is not the end—it’s the beginning.”