Who is Stormy Daniels and what did she say happened with Trump?


Former President Donald Trump was indicted in New York City on Thursday on criminal charges arising from alleged hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to avoid a scandal ahead of the 2016 U.S. election.

Daniels has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, the year after he married his third wife Melania, and more than a decade before the businessman-turned-politician - at the time known for a popular reality TV show - became president. Trump has denied the relationship and has said the payment was made to stop her "false and extortionist accusations."

 Donald Trump will try to turn his indictment to his advantage by stoking anger among core supporters over what they see as the weaponization of the justice system, though it may also push more Republicans tired of the drama around him to look for another presidential candidate.

Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury after an investigation into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign, becoming the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges even as he makes another run for the White House.

The prosecution of a former president is unprecedented in U.S. history. But his supporters view it as politically motivated, and it may only harden their resolve to back him in the 2024 Republican primary, rank-and-file Republican voters, party officials, and political analysts told Reuters.

"They've done nothing but harass this guy," said Gregg Hough, chair of the Republican party in Belknap County, New Hampshire, predicting the prosecution will boost Trump support "to the moon" if it fails to deliver a convincing conviction.

Trump flagged the possibility of charges earlier this month and raised about $2 million of what he said was his imminent arrest. In a statement on Thursday, Trump called the indictment "Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history," without providing evidence.

John Feehery, a Republican strategist, described the Manhattan case as "silly" compared to the other probes hanging over Trump's campaign. Those include a special counsel investigating allegations he sought to overturn the 2020 election results, and prosecutors in Georgia examining his efforts to reverse his loss in the battleground state.

To win the party's nomination, Trump will likely have to broaden his support beyond the 25%-30% of the Republican electorate generally thought to be in his corner no matter what, especially if the field of Republican candidates narrows in the coming months. An indictment could make it difficult for him to broaden his appeal.

"For all the things for Trump to get indicted for, this is not on the top 20 list," said Feehery. "But it is a little bit of a scarlet letter for Trump that his opponents could use against him. Such an argument could be persuasive for independent voters."

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said some Republicans could be swayed by the charges to back Florida Governor Ron DeSantis or another potential candidate without Trump's legal baggage, which has grown considerably since he left the White House in 2021.

"It’s not good for Trump, the question is how bad for Trump it is," said Sabato. "There could be multiple indictments ... it begins to add up to a major problem."

Trump's campaign has accused the Manhattan District Attorney, Democrat Alvin Bragg, of doing the bidding of the Democratic Party in an effort to stop his White House run. At a campaign rally in Waco, Texas on Saturday, Trump likened the criminal investigations against him to a "Stalinist Russia horror show."

People close to Trump have said his campaign would seek to frame the indictment as proof that all prosecutions - including his two impeachments in Congress - are unjustified attempts by the "Deep State" to undermine him and his supporters.


Sam DeMarco, chair of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania's Allegheny County, said Republicans would view the Manhattan indictment as political, given that federal prosecutors reviewed the Daniels case in 2018 and decided not to charge Trump, although it is Justice Department policy not to indict a sitting president.

Trump has defied predictions of his demise numerous times since he launched his bid for the White House in 2015. Sometimes called "Teflon Don" for his record of skirting accountability, Trump once bragged that he could gun down someone in the middle of Manhattan and not face consequences.

Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 despite the emergence of the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape in which he made vulgar comments about women. And in 2018, when he was president, he paid no apparent political price for the Stormy Daniels affair, even as his lawyer went to prison for arranging the payments and pointed the finger at Trump.

Trump remains the front-runner in the 2024 Republican field, with the support of 44% of Republicans in a March Reuters/Ipsos, ahead of DeSantis' 30% support.

Here are facts about Daniels and her alleged relationship with Trump.


Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is 44 years old and from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has been a well-known personality for more than two decades in the adult film business, appearing in and directing numerous videos.


Daniels has said she was introduced to Trump in July 2006 at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. She said he invited her to dinner and they dined at his hotel suite, where he showed her a copy of a golf magazine with his picture on the cover.

"And I was like, 'Someone should take that magazine and spank you with it,'" Daniels told the CBS program "60 Minutes" in 2018.

"So he turned around and pulled his pants down a little - you know had underwear on and stuff - and I just gave him a couple swats," Daniels said.

She said Trump asked her about herself and whether she would like to appear on his TV show "Celebrity Apprentice."

"He was like, 'Wow, you - you are special. You remind me of my daughter.' You know, he was like, 'You're smart and beautiful, and a woman to be reckoned with, and I like you. I like you,'" Daniels said.

She said she excused herself at one point to use the bathroom and when she returned Trump was "perched" on the edge of the bed.

"I realized exactly what I'd gotten myself into. And I was like, 'Ugh, here we go," Daniels told "60 Minutes." "And I just felt like maybe ... I had it coming for making a bad decision for going to someone's room alone."

She said the two had consensual sex.

Daniels said Trump made telephone calls to her over the following year and she met him again at his request in July 2007 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles to discuss her possible appearance on "Celebrity Apprentice." Daniels said he wanted to have sex again at the hotel but she declined. She said Trump called her a month later to tell her he had not been able to get her booked on "Celebrity Apprentice."


On Oct. 28, 2016, in the waning days before the presidential election that Trump won, Daniels signed a non-disclosure agreement in which she pledged not to publicly discuss her relationship with him in exchange for a $130,000 payment, according to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court. The pact was signed by Keith Davidson, her lawyer at the time, and Michael Cohen, then Trump's personal lawyer and fixer. The document included a spot for Trump's signature, but he never signed it.

In 2018, after the Wall Street Journal reported on the payment to Daniels, Cohen stated publicly that he paid her using his own money and was not directed to do so by Trump. Daniels sued Trump and Cohen seeking to have the agreement invalidated.

Trump's lawyers subsequently acknowledged he did not sign the non-disclosure agreement and would not seek to enforce it. A judge dismissed her lawsuit because the matter was resolved.


Daniels filed a 2018 defamation lawsuit against Trump in federal court over a Twitter post in which he accused her of a "con job" after she described being threatened over publicizing her account of an alleged sexual relationship with him. A Los Angeles-based federal judge decided in 2018 that Trump's remarks were not defamatory and were protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment's guarantee of free speech. The judge's decision was upheld on appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court 2021 declined to review the matter.

Daniels has said an unknown man approached her and her infant daughter in 2011 in a Las Vegas parking lot and made threats after she agreed to talk about her relationship with Trump in a media interview.

In 2018, she released a sketch of the man. Trump responded on Twitter to the release of the sketch, writing: "A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!"

Trump has long warned he may be arrested over the New York probe into hush money payments but when the indictment was announced on Thursday, the former president and his advisers were caught off guard, according to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Trump and some of his aides in recent weeks had become confident there would be no movement until the end of April, the Times reported, while some advisers – including Boris Epshteyn – had even begun telling the former president he would not be indicted at all, the Post said.

The US newspapers cited people familiar with the matter.

After the grand jury indictment, Trump was angry but mainly focused on the political implications of the charges and not the legal consequences, the Times said, citing people familiar with his thinking.

A lawyer for Trump has told the AFP news agency that Trump is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday.

Susan Necheles said in an email that “we do expect the arraignment to occur on Tuesday” but did not elaborate further.

At an arraignment, a defendant is presented with the charges facing them and generally enters a plea. A judge then decides whether they should be released on bail or taken into custody.

Michael Cohen, a key witness in the Manhattan District Attorney’s case against Trump, said the indictment marked “an important day” for “justice” and “accountability” in the United States.

Cohen, who was once Trump’s lawyer, served prison time after pleading guilty in 2018 to federal charges, including campaign finance violations for arranging payouts to Daniels as well as model Karen McDougal to keep them from going public.

“What I did, I did at the direction of, for the benefit, and in cooperation with Donald J Trump,” Cohen told the MSNBC broadcaster. “And so, I ended up being forced to plead guilty. I was charged, I was fined, and I was ultimately sentenced to several of these things that they’re looking at with Donald. What’s good for one has to be good for all.”

Cohen added that he believed Trump “right now is terrified”.

“This is one of his biggest fears, that he would be called out for who and what he is.”

Nikki Haley, who is challenging Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination, has also spoken out against the former president’s indictment.

“From everything I’ve seen from this New York District Attorney, this would be something he would be doing for political points,” she told Fox News, referring to Alvin Bragg, an elected Democrat.

“What we know is when you get into political prosecutions like this, it’s more about revenge than it is about justice,” she said.

Haley served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations.

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