Trump and $130,000 in ‘hush money’

Published : 21 Mar 2023 09:56 PM

In July 2006, real estate tycoon, reality television star and former president Donald Trump met an adult film actress, Stormy Daniels, at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.

Exactly what happened next is in dispute but it appears likely to culminate this week in the first ever criminal indictment of a former president of the United States.

These are the events leading up to the politically explosive case and Daniels' role in it:

- Lake Tahoe -

In her 2018 tell-all book "Full Disclosure," Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, recounts her fateful encounter with Trump at the Nevada golf resort on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

A picture taken at the time shows them posing together at a porn studio booth where Daniels was working as a "greeter."

Trump is wearing a red hat, yellow polo shirt and khaki pants. The voluptuous Daniels is standing next to him in a tight-fitting black top that exposes her midriff.

Daniels was 27 at the time and Trump 60. His third wife, Melania, had given birth to their son Barron about four months earlier.

In her book, Daniels said one of Trump's bodyguards invited her to have dinner with "The Apprentice" star in his penthouse.

They proceeded to have what "may have been the least impressive sex I'd ever had," she writes in an account that also includes an unflattering description of Trump's anatomy.

Trump has denied they ever had sex and has accused Daniels of "extortion" and a "total con job."

Daniels said she remained in touch with Trump over the next year in the hope he would get her on his reality television show but it never happened.

- Hush money payment -

Fast forward to 2016 and Trump is the Republican presidential nominee.

The National Enquirer, a tabloid newspaper owned by a Trump ally, discovers that Daniels is seeking bidders for her potentially politically damaging story about her relationship with Trump.

The tabloid put her in touch with Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer and fixer nicknamed "The Pitbull."

Cohen, who has since turned against Trump, has acknowledged arranging a $130,000 "hush money" payment to Daniels in exchange for her silence about the 2006 tryst.

Daniels and Trump -- under the respective pseudonyms Peggy Peterson and David Dennison -- were the parties to a non-disclosure agreement prepared by Cohen that has emerged in court filings.

The payment was revealed by The Wall Street Journal in January 2018 and forms the basis for the charges Trump may be facing this week in New York.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and claims that he is the victim of a political "witch hunt" by the Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, intended to derail his 2024 White House campaign.

Cohen, who has served time in prison for tax evasion and campaign finance violations, and Daniels were both interviewed by prosecutors this month in connection with the case. - Notoriety -

Since coming forward, Daniels has been cashing in on her notoriety while battling Trump in and out of court and on social media.

She suggestively refers to Trump on her Twitter feed as "Tiny" while he throws various insults her way, including calling her "Horseface."

Along with her book, Daniels has made appearances at strip clubs around the country billed as the "Make America Horny Again" tour.

Her one-time high-profile lawyer, Michael Avenatti, is currently serving jail time for stealing money from Daniels.

Avenatti tricked literary agents into sending $300,000 of an $800,000 advance she received for her book into a bank account he controlled, without her knowledge.

Avenatti spent the money on personal and professional expenses including plane tickets, restaurants and the lease of a Ferrari, according to prosecutors.