To fully appreciate how Stormy Daniels has kept herself in the news, consider the news she hasn’t yet made.
There is, most notably, the “60 Minutes” interview she taped last week, knowing it would not air until Sunday, at the earliest. Though she surely could have booked herself on any number of live TV shows, the porn star who claims to have had an affair with President Trump more than a decade ago picked a program with a relatively long lead time, building anticipation.
In this and other moves, Daniels has practiced the art of the tease, making headlines with incremental developments while hinting at more to come.
CNN’s Hadas Gold said it well on NPR on Tuesday, remarking after observing Daniels in a strip club that Daniels says “just enough to keep you interested.”
Daniels has said through an attorney, in court documents, and in a recently unearthed magazine interview from 2011 that she had sex with Trump. But she has not said so on camera. The moment she does, presumably on “60 Minutes,” it will provide voters the best opportunity to judge her credibility and finally close one chapter in a drawn-out saga that seems designed to hold the attention of the public and the news media.
There are not-so-subtle hints that Daniels possesses — and might ultimately release — documentary evidence to support her story. In a lawsuit she filed against Trump on March 6, Daniels included the 2016 nondisclosure agreement she signed in exchange for $130,000, which makes multiple references to “certain still images and/or text messages which were authored by or relate to” Trump.
The NDA required Daniels to turn over to Trump’s team all such evidence and not to retain copies of her own. The whole premise of her lawsuit is that the contract should be voided because Trump did not sign it, and Daniels already has violated the NDA in multiple ways.
It is hardly a stretch to think Daniels might have further violated the agreement by holding on to evidence; in fact, her attorney, Michael Avenatti, fueled the notion during a March 7 appearance on NBC’s “Today” show.
“Does she still have photos, images, text messages, documents that verify this claim?” host Savannah Guthrie asked.
“That’s a question that Ms. Daniels will ultimately have to answer,” Avenatti replied. He added: “I do know the answer, and I’m not at liberty to disclose it this morning.”
Some reporting on Daniels’s alleged affair with Trump has relied on leaks, which logic suggests are from her side, not the president’s. On Wednesday, for example, Anderson Cooper’s CNN program reported it had obtained documents from a private arbitration case that centers on the nondisclosure agreement. A Trump Organization vice president is listed as representing Trump’s interest in the matter, an arrangement that appears to undercut Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s claim that the president’s business was not involved in the NDA.
Cooper conducted the Daniels interview for “60 Minutes.”
On Friday, Avenatti supplied another document to NBC News: an email showing that Cohen used his Trump Organization email address when negotiating the NDA and payment in 2016.
Daniels appears to be spreading out the scoops, rather than dumping everything all at once. The result is suspense and the sense of a developing story.