As is often the case, determining the truth is difficult. The White House says there is no truth to Daniels’s account. She gave similar stories to different publications at different times, and in the case of Slate, three friends confirmed the story and said she’d told them about it at the time. Speaking to InTouch, she said she arranged rendezvous with Trump’s bodyguard, a man named Keith, which matches up with Keith Schiller, Trump’s longtime guard. But Daniels will not comment these days.
That’s because she signed an agreement not to speak. The Wall Street Journal finally broke the story last week by focusing on that deal—which in turn opened up the floodgates for the other stories. According to the paper, Trump agreed to pay Daniels $130,000 in exchange for keeping quiet. Given that she was speaking to reporters, it was a live issue; Weisberg said Daniels showed him a copy of a draft agreement, but she was worried that Trump would not pay out. Trump lawyer Michael Cohen denied any affair to the Journal, and sent a statement signed by Stormy Daniels, stating, “Rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false.” She did not respond to other requests for comment.
The suggestion of hush money is easier to credit because it fits with a pattern from Trump in the past. Faced with the prospect of damaging revelations about his personal life, the otherwise parsimonious Trump has often paid out. As part of his 1992 divorce from Ivana Trump, the developer agreed to divide assets, but imposed a sweeping gag order on his ex-wife:
Without obtaining [the husband’s] written consent in advance, [the wife] shall not directly or indirectly publish, or cause to be published, any diary, memoir, letter, story, photograph, interview, article, essay, account, or description or depiction of any kind whatsoever, whether fictionalized or not, concerning her marriage to [the husband] or any other aspect of [the husband’s] personal, business or financial affairs, or assist or provide information to others in connection with the publication or dissemination of any such material or excerpts thereof.
If Ivana broke the agreement, Donald could cut off all benefits to her. The agreement seems to have had some curious repercussions. During a deposition for the divorce, Ivana accused him of marital rape, as Harry Hurt reported in his book The Lost Tycoon. But when the book came out, Donald’s lawyers provided a statement from Ivana, printed in the book, that sought to soft-pedal the allegation. “I referred to this as a ‘rape,’ but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense,” it said.
When Trump’s marriage to Marla Maples, for whom he left Ivana Trump, crumbled, she too, signed a confidentiality agreement, as he revealed in 1999, when he floated a presidential run and she told a British newspaper, “If he is really serious about being president and runs in the general election next year, I will not be silent. I will feel it is my duty as an American citizen to tell the people what he is really like.” Trump withheld an alimony payment.