Nothing like a good old-fashioned Donald Trump tabloid scandal. And if that’s not 1990s enough for you, this time it’s a presidential sex scandal, too.
The celebrity gossip magazine InTouch Weekly says it’s planning to run an extensive interview, conducted in 2011, with an adult-film star who claims she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Trump’s lawyer paid the woman $130,000 to keep quiet about it. (The White House said “these are old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election.”)
Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels, says she had “textbook generic” sex with Trump—an assessment that evokes an earlier chapter in the Trump-tabloid-scandal genre.
In February 1990, Trump’s affair with the actress Marla Maples set off some kind of mass tabloid fever dream. Trump was still married to his first wife, Ivana. The New York Post famously bannered its cover one day with a quote, attributed to Maples, that her liaison with Trump was the “BEST SEX I’VE EVER HAD.” (“It’s just an absolute, total lie that I said it,” Maples later told the news anchor Diane Sawyer.)
The media frenzy was, Newsweek reported, “a kind of Gresham’s law of escalating sleaze.” There were the reports about Maples from her hometown in Georgia—Dalton, the Carpet Capital of the World—from those who remembered her as a nice girl; there were vivid and differing accounts of a dramatic confrontation between Marla and Ivana in Aspen; and there was Donald, describing just how major his own divorce was: “It’s bigger than Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton,” People magazine quoted him as having said at the time. Trump apparently wallowed in it. “Publicity is his cocaine,” Newsweek said.