Did Donald Trump pay off this porn star to keep quiet about their NSFW relationship?

Did Donald Trump pay off this porn star to keep quiet about their NSFW relationship?

You know, keeping track of the number of scandals that have unfolded during Donald Trump's tenure as President really is an exercise in cataloguing. No matter how many times the media has attempted to expose evidence of his supposed corruption, the accusations haven't managed to bother him, and the Republican leader has carried on without a hair in his blonde quiff ruffled. First, there was the furore over the leaked interview with Billy Bush, in which Trump appeared to make a number of misogynistic comments on tape. Then there was the FBI's investigation into Trump's alleged links with Russia. Perhaps the strangest story of all was the one which came courtesy of Buzzfeed - one that remains totally unverified - which alleged that Donald Trump had been blackmailed into running for the 2016 election by Russian officials who had recovered footage of him being urinated on by sex workers at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow.

Any lesser man, or at least someone more easily embarrassed by slander, would have had their reputations and careers ruined. But not Trump. So far, he's denied all wrongdoing and gone about his business untroubled. But the latest charge against him is probably the most humiliating yet and, if true, could be the most shocking twist in the tale thus far. Apparently, the president is guilty of having a clandestine affair with a porn actress one year ago and has paid a substantial sum of money in order to buy the adult film star's silence.

The story begins two years ago when an attorney representing Trump arranged for $130,000 to be paid to former erotic actress Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford). This cash sum was apparently attached to a non-disclosure agreement, which prohibited Clifford from publicly discussing something secret. The story goes that Trump, who had been married to his current wife First Lady Melania for a year, had an affair with Clifford after meeting her in July 2006 at a celebrity golf tournament on the shore of Lake Tahoe.

In 2006, Clifford was 27. By then, the actress had appeared in over 150 pornographic movies and was considered one the industry’s top stars when she met the future President at the Edgewood Tahoe golf course in Nevada. Jessica Drake, a fellow pornographic model, alleged in an October 2016 news conference that Donald Trump had kissed and groped her and two other women without consent in a hotel suite at the same golf fixture, which seems to corroborate the story. It may all feel like a rumour inflated to ridiculous proportions, were it not for the fact that Clifford's non-disclosure agreement has been so rigorously enforced. What exactly would the Trump organisation want her to keep so secret that they would be willing to pay her a six-figure fee?
Things were complicated further when it emerged that Clifford had been in talks with ABC’s Good Morning America, midway through the 2016 American election; apparently, she had been discussing the possibility of her making an appearance on the show to talk about her relationship with Trump - whatever it might have been. Allegedly American Media, Inc, the corporation which currently owns tabloid newspaper The National Enquirer, offered the former Playboy centrefold model $150,000 three months before the election to come clean about the Trump-related secret. American Media Inc has since claimed that they offered Clifford cash to write fitness columns and appear on covers.

The issue was muddied further when Clifford agreed to an interview with Jimmy Kimmel. In a press statement released before her appearance on the show, Clifford said: "Over the past few weeks I have been asked countless times to comment on reports of an alleged sexual relationship I had with Donald Trump many, many, many years ago. The fact of the matter is that each party to this alleged affair denied its existence in 2006, 2011, 2016, 2017 and now again in 2018. I am not denying the affair because I was paid ‘hush money’ as has been reported in overseas owned tabloids. I am denying this affair because it never happened. I will have no further comment on this matter."

However, when she appeared on the show and talked with Kimmel, the presenter read out the statement in its entirety and contested her account. He also asked Clifford whether she had actually authorised its release. Kimmel compared a number of photos of Clifford, which she had autographed personally, with the signatures on the statement. When Kimmel asked her if she had signed the letter, she refused to answer directly. Kimmel then brought up the fact that Clifford herself had alleged that she and the President had had a dalliance in an interview with InTouch magazine in 2011, where she talked about her inside knowledge of Trump's lifestyle and habits. The interview had been suppressed by Trump's legal representatives. When Kimmel asked if the statements recorded in the interview were accurate, Clifford replied “not as it is written” and said nothing more about the article's contents.

As a result of the allegations of a Clifford/Trump tryst, Melania Trump has been forced to make a statement of denial. For now, it seems as though any satisfactory answers will remain elusive, but the story has certainly managed to distract the public from Trump's State of the Union Address, in which he called upon America to "set aside our differences, to seek out common ground and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve." Unsurprisingly, he said little about the Edgewood Tahoe golf course, or any Stormy weather.