Seven things to watch for in the Stormy Daniels interview
Stormy Daniels’s interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” is set to air Sunday night, raising questions about what the adult-film actress could reveal about her alleged affair with President Trump.
The interview has so far been shrouded in mystery. Even Daniels’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, acknowledged on Sunday that he is not entirely sure what will be included in the segment. He has also teased the possibility that Daniels will unveil hard evidence to back up her claims.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges that she carried on an affair with Trump in 2006 and was paid to remain silent about the matter as the real estate mogul sought the presidency in 2016.
Hanging over the interview are questions about whether she will throw out a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) with Trump and speak openly about the alleged affair, and what the segment could mean for her ongoing lawsuit.
Here are seven things to watch for in Daniels’s interview:
1. Will she give details about the nondisclosure agreement?
Daniels has never spoken publicly about the nondisclosure agreement that purportedly bars her from speaking about her alleged affair with Trump.
But a lawsuit filed by Daniels earlier this month confirmed the existence of such a document, arguing that it is invalid because it was never co-signed by Trump himself.
Whether Daniels will discuss the details of the agreement in the “60 Minutes” interview remains to be seen. Her lawsuit seeking to void the contract is still pending, and NDAs often prohibit signatories from speaking about the agreements.
Daniels has hinted that is true of her NDA. During an interview with late-night host Jimmy Kimmel in January, Kimmel pointed out that Daniels would likely be barred from discussing the agreement if it, in fact, existed.
“You’re so smart, Jimmy,” was her cagey response.
2. Will she talk openly about the alleged affair?
Daniels has implied she was paid $130,000 by Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen weeks before the 2016 presidential election to keep quiet about the alleged affair.
Speaking openly about her claims would certainly violate the terms of the disputed NDA, and could subject Daniels to legal penalties.
In court papers filed earlier this month, Trump’s lawyers said that Daniels could face up to $20 million in damages for violating the terms of the agreement.
One question that remains is whether Daniels could toss out the NDA completely in her “60 Minutes” interview, and provide details about her alleged relationship with the president. The last time she spoke about it was 2011, when she gave an interview to In Touch magazine that wasn’t published until this year.
3. Will she mention possible video or photographic evidence?
Avenatti has repeatedly hinted that video or photographic evidence of Daniels’s alleged affair with Trump exists.
The March 6 lawsuit filed by Daniels to void the nondisclosure agreement with Trump refers to “certain still images and/or text messages which were authored by or relate to” the president. While the NDA reportedly required her to turn over such material and get rid of her own copies, Avenatti has suggested that Daniels may have retained it.
Avenatti hinted this week that he may be in possession of such material, tweeting a cryptic photo of a compact disc inside of what appeared to be a safe.
“If ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ how many words is this worth?????” he wrote on Twitter.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 22, 2018
4. Will she address whether she was physically threatened?
Avenatti prompted questions earlier this month when he said that Daniels had been threatened with physical harm in connection with the alleged affair with Trump.
Asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” whether Daniels had been physically threatened, Avenatti bluntly replied, “yes.”
Exactly who may have threatened Daniels or what the nature of those threats may have been is unclear, and Avenatti has declined to discuss the matter in greater detail.
Daniels herself has not addressed any potential physical threats that she may have gotten, leaving open whether she will discuss the topic in the “60 Minutes” interview.
5. Will she discuss whether Trump knew about the $130K payment?
Cohen himself has acknowledged making the payment to Daniels, but has insisted that the money came from his personal funds and that Trump was never made aware of the transaction.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said she does not believe Trump knew about the payment.
But Avenatti has argued otherwise, saying the fact that Cohen used a Trump Organization email address backs up his claim that the real estate mogul was aware of the transaction.
In an interview on “Morning Joe” last week, Avenatti also suggested that he had more evidence that Trump knew about the payment. Asked by Willie Geist if his “belief that the president directed this payment is based on more than a hunch,” Avenatti simply replied, “yes,” but declined to provide any evidence.
6. Why does she want to talk about the affair now?
Daniels’s lawsuit claims she expressed interest in discussing the alleged affair publicly in 2016 after The Washington Post published a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump could be heard boasting about groping and kissing women without their permission.
It was at this point that Cohen and Trump “aggressively sought to silence Ms. Clifford,” according to the lawsuit, which claims that the $130,000 payment and nondisclosure agreement soon followed.
But for more than a year after that, Daniels was silent about the alleged affair, and it was only in recent months that the accusations resurfaced.
One thing to watch for is whether Daniels addresses her motives in the “60 Minutes” interview, or answers questions about what she hopes will happen next.
7. What happens next?
There may be hints of what Daniels’s next steps are in the interview. A planned court hearing for Daniels’s lawsuit is still months away. However, whatever Daniels reveals in the interview may force the hand of Trump’s own legal team.
After news broke that CBS intended to air the “60 Minutes” segment with Daniels, speculation swirled that Trump’s lawyers would take legal action seeking to block the broadcast.
Such legal action would have been unlikely to proceed, because courts rarely allow such prior restraint of speech, particularly regarding the news media.
But how Trump and his lawyers respond to the interview after it airs will be closely watched.