Press: Stormy weather in Washington

Press: Stormy weather in Washington
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The third nor’easter of the winter is threatening the East Coast. But that’s nothing like the big storm slamming the White House.

Her name is Stormy Daniels. She’s a porn star. She claims she had a consensual sexual relationship with Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpShocking summit with Putin caps off Trump’s turbulent Europe trip GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit MORE, starting in 2006 at a celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe four months after the birth of his son, Barron, and lasting into 2007.

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Nobody can confirm she’s telling the truth. She’s hardly the first woman to come forward and accuse Trump of sexual misconduct or worse and, so far, he’s been able to escape any consequences by calling them all liars. But what’s different about Stormy Daniels’s story is how long it’s been around and how impossible it’s become for the White House to shake it.

She first told her story to InTouch magazine in 2011. But, despite its lurid details about what position he liked, whether they used protection, and how well-endowed he is — “I can definitely describe his junk perfectly, if I ever have to” — the story never got much pick-up. Probably because it was a consensual affair and because he was — well, he was Donald Trump!

It’s only when The Wall Street Journal resurrected the story in January 2018 that the story suddenly gained staying power because of desperate attempts by Trump and his lawyers to silence Daniels. As first reported by the Journal, in October 2016, only ten days before the election, Trump attorney Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in return for a nondisclosure agreement to keep quiet about her story. Cohen insisted he paid Daniels out of the goodness of his heart, using his own money, and Trump never knew anything about it nor reimbursed him. Which seems less likely once we subsequently learned that Cohen conducted at least part of his negotiations using official Trump Organization email.

Then, last week, Daniels’s new attorney, Michael Avenatti, racheted pressure up even more by filing a lawsuit arguing that their nondisclosure agreement was invalid because Trump himself had never signed the document. In response to which, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders mistakenly revealed that the White House had won a recent arbitration battle with Daniels to keep her from talking. At which point, Stormy Daniels sat down for a “60 Minutes” interview with Anderson Cooper, now scheduled to air on Sunday, March 18, which, according to The New York Times, Michael Cohen may try to block by filing an injunction against CBS.

Bottom line: The Stormy Daniels story is not going away anytime soon. It’s not so easy for Donald Trump to deny or run away from this one. Does anyone really think Trump or his lawyers would have shelled out $130,000 if nothing had happened? It may have been a consensual affair, but at its best it still amounts to Donald Trump, as both candidate and president, involved in pressuring a porn star — a porn star! — to keep quiet about an extramarital affair.

And, in the middle of it all, House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit Former Trump aide says he canceled CNN appearance over 'atrocious' Helsinki coverage MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Overnight Defense: Washington reeling from Trump, Putin press conference Feehery: The long game MORE (R-Ky.) say nothing. Imagine their howls of moral outrage if Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaWhy did it take so long for Trump to drain the swamp of Pruitt? President Trump is tougher on Russia in 18 months than Obama in eight years Obama in Kenya for launch of sister’s sports center MORE had been caught paying hush money to a porn star. How long before impeachment hearings would have begun?

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down.”