Within hours of Daniels' highly anticipated "60 Minutes" interview - during which she said threats made her agree to take $130,000 from Michael Cohen, Trump's attorney, to remain silent - a lawyer representing Cohen said he believed she had fabricated a story about being threatened in 2011.
The back-and-forth showed no sign of abating Monday as Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has defended her credibility while embarking on an aggressive campaign to break free of a nondisclosure agreement signed in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election. Daniels has sued the president in an effort to get out of the agreement, making her one of three women moving forward with court cases relating to Trump's history with women.
Daniels's story about meeting Trump in 2006 and beginning an affair with him at a celebrity golf tournament has remained largely consistent through multiple interviews and accounts over several years. But since news of the $130,000 payment broke, her name has appeared on statements denying both the affair and the hush money.
When asked in the "60 Minutes" interview that aired Sunday why people should believe her account after these previous denials, Daniels said: "I have no reason to lie. I'm opening up myself for, you know, possible danger and definitely a whole lot of s---."
While much of what she said in the television interview was previously described to reporters, including during a lengthy 2011 interview with InTouch Magazine, her assertion that someone threatened her that same year marked a new revelation.
"A guy walked up on me and said to me, 'Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,' " Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said in the interview with journalist Anderson Cooper. "And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, 'That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom.' And then he was gone."
According to Daniels, the encounter happened in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 while she was heading to a fitness class. Daniels also told "60 Minutes" that she never went to the police, and she did not provide any evidence for the claim.
Cohen has previously denied threatening Daniels. Brent Blakely, Cohen's attorney, dispatched a letter to Daniels' attorney on Sunday night accusing her of saying Cohen "was responsible for an alleged thug" who visited her in 2011.
"In truth, Mr. Cohen had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any such person or incident, and does not even believe that any such person exists, or that such incident ever occurred," Blakely wrote in the letter.
In her interview, Daniels did not suggest that Cohen sent this person, whom she said she could recognize again today. However, Michael Avenatti, Daniels' attorney, said the threat must have been "directed" by someone in Trump's orbit.
"There was a specific reference by that individual to Mr. Trump," Avenatti said Monday morning on NBC's "Today" show. "So it's pretty clear that it could have only come from one place and one place only."
He added: "It had to be someone that was related or sent by Mr. Trump or Mr. Cohen. There's no other logical explanation."
During her "60 Minutes" appearance, Daniels said she felt "intimidated" and "bullied" when she signed statements denying the affair.
"I was concerned for my family and their safety," she said. Daniels also said she was warned about legal issues, saying: "The exact sentence used was, 'They can make your life hell in many different ways.'"
After the Wall Street Journal broke the news of the $130,000 payment and agreement in a January 2018 report, Cohen released a statement bearing Daniels' signature that denied the affair and the settlement report. Another signed statement was released before Daniels appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
Daniels said on "60 Minutes" that these denials were untrue but that she signed them "because they made it sound like I had no choice." However, she did not elaborate on whether the "they" meant Cohen or her own representatives at the time. When the second statement was released, a representative for Daniels, Gina Rodriguez, told The Washington Post that it was signed in front of her and Keith Davidson, Daniels's then-attorney.
Davidson, now Daniels' former attorney, said in a statement that he could not speak publicly until Daniels waived attorney-client privilege, but that he looked forward to correcting the record soon.
"I am not at liberty at this time to respond in a point by point fashion," he said. "Suffice to say, I do not believe that the assertions in Ms. Daniels' '60 Minutes' interview represents a fair and accurate description of the situation."
Daniels' appearance on "60 Minutes" comes at a tense moment for Trump, who has denied impropriety with women but not publicly commented on Daniels' story yet.
Her story of an affair with Trump and hush money paid in the waning days of an election has shown resiliency while other scandals have come and gone, and now it is one of three court cases that could pose headaches for the president.
A former Playboy playmate, Karen McDougal, last week sued the National Enquirer's publisher for the right to speak out about her own alleged affair with Trump, which she detailed in an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN. The day her suit was filed, a judge ruled that a defamation lawsuit filed by a former "Apprentice" contestant who accused Trump of groping her could proceed.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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