How Trump's Alleged Affair With A Porn Star Spilled Into Public View

In Daniels' description, this was an unremarkable hookup between two people in the outer orbits of Hollywood fame.

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How Trump's Alleged Affair With A Porn Star Spilled Into Public View

White House press secretary reiterated Trump's denial of an affair with Stormy Daniels


Their first meeting was in Lake Tahoe, at a golf tournament in the summer of 2006. He invited her to dinner, she says. But when she got to his hotel room, it was clear he didn't plan to go out.

"He was wearing pajama pants," Stormy Daniels told InTouch magazine in 2011, describing what she said was a consensual sexual encounter with Donald Trump five years before. Trump has denied it ever happened.

In Daniels' description, this was an unremarkable hookup between two people in the outer orbits of Hollywood fame. Daniels was a star of adult movies. Trump's reality show, "The Apprentice," was slumping. At this Lake Tahoe celebrity tournament, the organizers had given him only fifth billing, listing the real estate developer two spots below Ray Romano in their lineup of stars.

Now, that casual night - and the connection it allegedly created between a future president and a porn star - has altered the course of Daniels' life and threatens to alter the course of Trump's presidency.

Days before the 2016 election, Daniels agreed to remain silent about the alleged encounter in exchange for a $130,000 payment arranged by Trump's longtime attorney Michael Cohen, according to a court filing.

But in recent weeks, her story started leaking out. Last week, Cohen obtained a temporary restraining order from an arbitration judge barring Daniels from talking about the deal, according to people familiar with the matter.

In response, Daniels sued the president, alleging that Trump and Cohen had tried to force her into silence with an invalid "hush agreement."

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated Trump's denial of an affair.

"The president has addressed these [allegations] directly and made very well clear that none of these allegations are true," she said.

Back on the night that started it all, Daniels has recalled, Trump didn't say anything about keeping their encounter a secret.

"He didn't seem worried about it," she told InTouch. "It did occur to me, 'That's a really stupid move on your part.' "

At the time of the golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Trump had been married to his third wife, Melania, for a year and a half. Their son, Barron, was about 4 months old.

Trump turned 60 that summer. He spent much of it in California, where one of his favored haunts was the Beverly Hills Hotel, a pink stucco landmark, and the private bungalows on its lush grounds, according to people familiar with his visits.

Some people come to Hollywood to start their TV careers: Trump had come to reboot his. "The Apprentice" had made him world famous, but after five seasons, its audience had declined. The show had shifted its location from New York's Trump Tower to Beverly Hills as part of a broader reboot.

Later, several women alleged that Trump made advances on them during this period - some of them unwanted.

Karen McDougal, a Playboy model, told The New Yorker that she began an affair with Trump when he was in Los Angeles around this time, recalling his repeated meals of steak and potatoes in his Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow. Another woman, Summer Zervos, has alleged in a lawsuit that Trump kissed and groped her in a 2007 encounter in a bungalow at the same hotel.

In July of 2006, Trump traveled to Lake Tahoe for the American Century Championship, a tournament dominated by former athletes and TV stars. "Grab the shades with heavy UV because the star power is blinding: Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordan, Ray Romano, Charles Barkley, Donald Trump," the organizers announced.

Trump was there for golf.

Daniels was there for work.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was 27. She had appeared in more than two dozen adult films and had begun to direct some herself. She told InTouch that a company she was working for, Wicked Pictures, had been paid to bring porn actresses to the golf tournament. Trump offered her a ride on his golf cart.

"That was actually my first time on a golf course," Daniels told Adult Video News, a trade publication for the pornography industry, in August 2006. "And when you're riding around with Donald Trump in an Escalade golf cart during your first time out on a course, I'd say I was doing all right."

Daniels has said that Trump invited her to his room, where she met a bodyguard named Keith. (Keith Schiller is the name of Trump's longtime bodyguard, who later joined him for a period in the White House.) Inside the room, she said, she and Trump talked for a while before having sex. She said she wondered whether he would pay her, thinking to herself: "Please don't try to pay me."

"And then I remember thinking, 'But I bet if he did, it would be a lot,' " she told InTouch.

Afterward, she said, he told her he would get her a slot on "The Apprentice."

"I'm gonna call you, I'm gonna call you. I have to see you again. You're amazing. We have to get you on," she recalled Trump saying.

Another actress for Wicked Pictures, Jessica Drake, has also said Trump made advances on her that weekend. In an October 2016 news conference, Drake said that Trump invited her and two other women to his suite, where they found him wearing pajamas. He kissed the women each in turn, without their permission, Drake said.

According to Drake, the group left Trump's suite, but then a man called her and asked her to return alone. When she declined, Drake said, she was then called by Trump, who asked to her to come to his suite for dinner and a party. "What do you want?" she said he asked. "How much?"

Later, she said Trump, or a man calling on his behalf, called again and offered $10,000 and the use of his private jet if she would come back. She said she declined again.

In response to Drake's allegations, Trump's campaign issued a statement calling her account "totally false and ridiculous."

Drake and her lawyer, Gloria Allred, declined to comment for this story.

As for Daniels, she said she kept in touch with Trump and saw him several more times, though she said they never again had sex. In one instance, she recalled visiting him at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Trump watched the Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" and spoke of his fear of sharks.

Their relationship faded to a few phone calls and meetups at parties, Daniels told InTouch, and then faded away entirely sometime in 2009 or 2010.

She never got her shot on "The Apprentice."

"He broke the news to me that it almost went through but there's somebody that had a problem and it got vetoed and blah blah blah," she told InTouch. "I was like, 'I told you you couldn't make it happen.' "

In the years after that, Daniels turned to directing, with dozens more credits to her name. In 2009, she contemplated a U.S. Senate bid in her home state of Louisiana but didn't go forward.

In May 2011, Daniels gave her interview to InTouch.

But it didn't run at the time. InTouch has not commented about why the story was held. The Associated Press reported that it had spoken to former InTouch staffers, who said that Trump's attorneys had threatened to sue.

However, news of the alleged encounter appeared on a website called The Dirty in late 2011, prompting a cease-and-desist letter from an attorney for Daniels.

After that, silence.

Daniels said she kept the secret through Trump's raucous, polarizing debut as a presidential candidate. But then, in the months before the election, she was in touch with reporters, including Jacob Weisberg, editor in chief of the Slate Group, seeking to tell her story.

Daniels had a lawyer, Keith Davidson, who was known for "pre-litigation" agreements, settlements intended to be sure that damaging allegations never see the light of day, according to people familiar with his work.

Cohen, Trump's longtime attorney, presented Davidson with a proposed agreement. He offered $130,000, she said, in exchange for her agreement to be silent again. (Cohen later acknowledged he "facilitated" the payment but declined to say what it was for.)

Daniels took it, 11 days before the election.

Then Trump won.

Despite the agreement, the story burst into public view in recent weeks. First, the Wall Street Journal broke news of the payment to Daniels. Then, InTouch belatedly published its seven-year-old interview with the porn star. Daniels embarked on a tour of strip clubs around the country, capitalizing on her newfound fame.

But she said little about what actually happened back in the Lake Tahoe hotel room.

Then, in recent days, two things changed.

Cohen sought to pull Daniels into arbitration last week, arguing she had violated the terms of the 2016 agreement.

Daniels' new lawyer - an experienced litigator named Michael Avenatti - sued Trump on Tuesday, detailing some of Daniels' claims in public court filings. The lawsuit laid out some details of her alleged sexual encounter with Trump and argued that the agreement meant to buy her silence was null because Trump had not signed it.

Lawrence Rosen, an attorney for Cohen, said in a statement that he plans to fight the lawsuit and continues to "categorically refute the claims alleged by Ms. Clifford and her counsel."

Daniels' lawsuit hints that she has more to reveal. And it raises the question: Did Trump know about the agreement to buy Daniels's silence, days before the election?

"Not that I'm aware of," Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Wednesday.

In an interview, Avenatti said he believes there's no question that Trump knew.

"Any suggestion that an attorney like Michael Cohen with his level of education and experience would pursue such an agreement, negotiate such an agreement, make the payment, and then proceed in this matter without his client's knowledge is absurd," Avenatti said. "As they say down South, that dog won't hunt."

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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