To recap: In 2006, Stormy Daniels allegedly had a sexual relationship with Donald Trump while he was married to his wife Melania. In 2011, she told a magazine all about said encounters, and passed a polygraph test. Her close friend and her ex-husband corroborated her account and also passed polygraph tests. In 2016, Daniels was allegedly paid by Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s lawyer, to deny that she had ever had a sexual relationship with Donald Trump. Michael Cohen released a statement, signed by Daniels, denying that any such payment was made. Ever since then, Daniels has denied that she ever had a sexual relationship with Trump. If she fails to do so, as has been posited on The View by Sunny Hostin, a lawyer unconnected with the case, she could be liable for a monetary fine of as much as a million dollars.
What complicates things further is that Daniels, a hard-working and opportunistic American, is now faced with a moment in which her public profile is shooting through the stratosphere, and she’s shrewd enough to want to take advantage of the possibilities. On January 20, she kicked off a tour of national strip clubs titled “Make America Horny Again,” a caption that alludes to both the president and to their alleged affair. She’s also consented to televised interviews, despite the fact that she’s legally barred (at least allegedly) from discussing any of the particulars of her interactions with Trump, or even the question of whether she’s legally barred from doing so. Earlier this month, Daniels spoke with Inside Edition, where she made silently smiling while questioned into a new art form. On Thursday she’s scheduled to appear on The View, where it’s safe to assume the same performance will ensue.
On Tuesday night, in the aftermath of Trump’s State of the Union address, Daniels sat down with Jimmy Kimmel. Their conversation was muddled further by the fact that, hours before the interview, Daniels had issued a new statement, once again denying that she had ever had a sexual affair with Trump. “Each party to this alleged affair denied its existence in 2006, 20011 (sic), 2016, 2017, and now again in 2018,” the statement read. “I am not denying this affair because I was paid hush money … I am denying this affair because it never happened.”
Kimmel, fairly, was confused by this, and noted that the signature on the new statement didn’t match Daniels’s official signature. “Did you sign this letter that was released today?” he asked her. “I don’t know, did I?” she replied, adding, “That doesn’t look like my signature … I do not know where it came from.”
It was a response of Olympic-level evasion, of dexterous doublespeak, of awe-inspiring slipperiness. On the one hand, Daniels is allegedly obligated to deny (as has been noted in tedious detail already above) that she slept with the president or that she was paid to say she never did so. On the other, her promotional moment hinges on the public interest in whether or not she slept with the president and was paid to say she never did so. She’s a bell in a bell jar, silently ringing. The only questions anyone wants to ask her are the only questions she (reportedly) can’t answer.