Our main takeaway from the interview has nothing to do with their affair, though. The story is important because it sheds yet more light on the intimidation and threats Trump and his team have reportedly used to bully people who tell inconvenient truths about them into silence.
Even now, when the public already knows about their affair, Trump and his legal team are seeking to punish Daniels, claiming she is liable for damages "in excess of $20 million" for unspecified violations of her non-disclosure agreement. Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen had paid Daniels $130,000 for signing an NDA so she will keep quiet about what happened between her and Trump. But Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is suing Trump, saying the agreement is invalid because he himself never signed it.
Further, she said the team allegedly intimidated her into publishing a statement that said she's denying the affair because it never happened — not because she was paid in hush money. She told Anderson Cooper the words used to get her to sign the agreement were, "They can make your life hell in many different ways." Cohen has denied intimidating Daniels.
As Vox writer Dylan Matthews argues, "A decent person who had an affair would, when faced with the prospect of that affair going public, tell their spouse what happened, apologize, and accept the consequences. That is not what Trump did. And it’s not what Trump is still doing."
In the interview, Daniels said she was threatened in a parking lot in Las Vegas in 2011, a few weeks after she had agreed to tell InTouch magazine her story.
"I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. Taking, you know, the seats facing backward in the backseat, diaper bag, you know, gettin' all the stuff out. And a guy walked up on me and said to me, 'Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.' 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."
"You took it as a direct threat?" Cooper asked her. She responded, "Absolutely."
On Monday, Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti said she "receives threats on a near-hourly basis" on CBS This Morning. "Now, we don't have anything tying those to Mr. Cohen or Mr. Trump, to be clear, but she's certainly scared for her safety and the safety of her family."
The amount of misogynistic runoff from the Stormy Daniels story is as endless as your Twitter feed. But, unlike some will have you think, this story isn't a big deal because it's pushing politics in a "tawdry and celebrity-oriented" direction. We've been knee-deep in that for a long, long time. It matters because a woman is being threatened for speaking up.
"This is about the cover-up," Avenatti said on 60 Minutes. "This is about the extent that Mr. Cohen and the president have gone to intimidate this woman, to silence her, to threaten her, and to put her under their thumb. It is thuggish behavior from people in power. And it has no place in American democracy."
Here's another reason there's more to this story than salacious details: Daniels is standing up for survivors of sexual harassment. "This is not a 'Me Too,'" she said to Cooper. "I was not a victim. I've never said I was a victim. I think trying to use me to further someone else's agenda does horrible damage to people who are true victims." With that, you could argue she's sending a clear message to the 19 women who have accused the president of sexual misconduct: "Your voices matter."
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