A scandalous accusation against President Trump is once again making the rounds, after a decade-old interview has come to light.
According to The Hill, a former adult film star named Stephanie Clifford claimed that she had a sexual encounter with Trump long before he was president, but after he was married to the current first lady.
However, there are a few major problems with the claim: An alleged “hush money” payout seems unrealistically small, and the timeline of the scandal doesn’t make a lot of sense.
“In Touch published an interview Wednesday it conducted in 2011 with Stephanie Clifford, known in the porn industry as Stormy Daniels,” reported The Hill. “In the interview, Clifford talks about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in 2006.”
In other words, the consensual encounter supposedly took place well over a decade ago, in 2006, but the interview that is now getting attention didn’t happen until 2011. There doesn’t seem to be any solid explanation for why the magazine would sit on such a story for seven years.
However, there’s another layer to the scandal. Several media outlets are also claiming that Trump “paid off” Clifford to keep her quiet about the alleged affair, but many of the details of this unproven allegation seem murky at best.
“The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Trump arranged a six-figure payment to Clifford to keep her from discussing a sexual encounter with Trump,” continued The Hill.
“According to the report, Michael Cohen, an attorney for the Trump Organization at the time and now Trump’s personal lawyer, arranged for Clifford to receive $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement one month before the 2016 presidential election.”
Here are the two key parts of that claim: $130,000 and one month before the 2016 presidential election.
Both of those claims raise major red flags. For lack of a better term, they don’t pass the sniff test.
While $130,000 is not chump change, it’s barely Trump change. For a person who has a net worth in the billions of dollars, $130,000 is an incredibly small amount of money to stop a story that could have derailed the entire presidential run.
To put that in perspective, the Trump campaign reportedly spent north of $300 million during the run-up to the election, and still had $7 million in the bank when it was all over.
As another comparison, the alleged $130,000 absolutely pales in comparison to what accused Hollywood sex abuser Harvey Weinstein possibly offered to actresses, including Rose McGowan.
“Rose McGowan has claimed that someone close to Harvey Weinstein offered her $1m to remain silent about her sexual assault allegations against the producer,” reported The Guardian. Even a cool million wasn’t enough to silence McGowan, it seems.
That ties into the other red flags about the anti-Trump allegation. If Stephanie Clifford was bargaining her story for cash, doesn’t it seem odd that none of the candidate’s opponents or media moguls were willing to pay more for the story of the year?
If Clifford’s claim is true, why didn’t the Clinton campaign simply double the amount in order to keep the actress talking and possibly derail the Trump train? Why not a wealthy liberal like George Soros?
It’s already a well-known fact that Trump’s opponents during both the primary and the general election were desperately digging for dirt, or what is called “opposition research” in politics. That’s exactly why $168,000 was paid by an anti-Trump group for the now debunked “Russian dossier,” after all. Yet a bombshell story of alleged adultery never came to light?
That raises the final red flag: Timing. The alleged affair happened way back in 2006, and the interview where Clifford made her claim allegedly took place in 2011.
It seems almost impossible that the Trump team wouldn’t be aware that the actress was making this claim and had given interviews. One of the first things any campaign team does is make sure there are no “skeletons in closets” which can unexpectedly destroy a candidate. Yet, according to The Hill, the alleged and unproven “payoff” of Clifford didn’t happen until merely a month before the November 2016 election.
Doesn’t it seem odd that this wouldn’t have taken place long before the election or even the primary, if the goal of Trump was actually to defend against a negative story? Waiting until a month before an election is extremely late in the game, and the entire timeline seems off.
To be clear, this story is still emerging and many facts are still coming out. However, people who wish to attack the Trump presidency and distract from its accomplishments are out in full force, and this actress’ claims should definitely be viewed with skepticism.
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