The confluence of developments yesterday involving women who claim to have had affairs with or been sexually harassed by Donald Trump was rather extraordinary.
First, of course, there’s Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress who received $130,000 in hush money from Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, shortly before the 2016 presidential election. Soon after the president’s lawyer insisted that the pre-election payoff had nothing to do with the election, NBC News reported that Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, passed a lie-detector test.
Second, there’s Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump’s reality show, who alleges he made unwanted sexual advances toward her back in 2007. She’s now suing the president, and despite Trump’s lawyers’ efforts, a New York judge ruled yesterday that the case can go forward. Though the decision will be appealed, the possible discovery process in this case offers untold possibilities.
And then there’s Karen McDougal. A few days before the 2016 election, the Wall Street Journal reported the company that owns the National Enquirer paid the former Playboy centerfold $150,000 for the exclusive rights to her story about her alleged affair with Trump. The tabloid then chose not to publish it.
And as the New York Times reported yesterday, she, too, is suing in the hopes of being able to tell the public about her experiences. Her lawsuit is targeting the National Enquirer’s parent company,
Ms. McDougal, in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims that [Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney] was secretly involved in her talks with the tabloid company, American Media Inc., and that A.M.I. and her lawyer at the time misled her about the deal. She also asserts that after she spoke last month with The New Yorker, which obtained notes she kept on Mr. Trump, A.M.I. warned that “any further disclosures would breach Karen’s contract” and “cause considerable monetary damages.”
Note, that New Yorker piece, written by Ronan Farrow, explained last month, “[McDougal’s] account provides a detailed look at how Trump and his allies used clandestine hotel-room meetings, payoffs, and complex legal agreements to keep affairs – sometimes multiple affairs he carried out simultaneously – out of the press.”
Taken together, over the course of one afternoon, we saw significant developments in three different controversies about women the president would prefer to keep silent.
The fine folks behind NBC News’ First Read said this morning, “Your authors have seen A LOT of different stories in the two decades we’ve covered politics – the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the Chandra Levy murder, Mark Foley, the recent Dem/GOP retirements in the wake of the #MeToo Movement. But we’ve NEVER seen these back-to-back-to-back stories in the span of just hours involving the president of the United States.”