Stormy Daniels can't get her story straight. Or maybe she can but chooses not to.
The pornographic film director and actress issued a signed statement Tuesday in which she once again denied having an affair with Donald Trump in 2006. Then, in a bizarre twist, she cast doubt on the authenticity of the statement hours later in an interview with late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel.
Kimmel noted that Daniels's signature on the statement appeared different from her previous signatures.
“Did you sign this letter that was released today?” Kimmel asked.
“I don't know. Did I?” Daniels replied. “That does not look like my signature, does it?”
Wait. What? Of course Daniels knows whether she signed the statement. After the Kimmel interview, Daniels's spokeswoman, Gina Rodriguez, told The Washington Post that she and an attorney witnessed Daniels sign the document Tuesday afternoon.
Daniels either suffers from short-term memory loss or, more likely, is deliberately sending mixed messages.
Why would she do that? Here's a theory: Daniels is trying to tell us, through winks and nudges, that she did have sex with the future president, even as she officially denies an affair.
Daniels said in her statement Tuesday that she was not “paid ‘hush money,’ as has been reported in overseas-owned tabloids.” That was a backhanded reference to a report by the Wall Street Journal that Daniels accepted $130,000 to keep quiet during the 2016 presidential race. (For the record, Journal owner Rupert Murdoch is Australian-born but is a U.S. citizen, and the paper is not tabloid-size.)
In the Kimmel interview, Daniels strongly suggested that she did, in fact, sign some kind of nondisclosure agreement.
KIMMEL: Do you have a nondisclosure agreement?
DANIELS: Do I?
KIMMEL: You can't say whether you have a nondisclosure agreement, but if you didn't have a nondisclosure agreement, you most certainly could say, “I don't have a nondisclosure agreement.” Yes?
DANIELS: You're so smart, Jimmy.
Daniels, it seems, is trying to remain in technical compliance with the nondisclosure agreement while leading the media and the public to conclude that her denials are not genuine and that the affair was real.
As The Post's Dan Zak has reported, Daniels performed at a South Carolina strip club this month that promoted her appearance with the following slogan: “HE SAW HER LIVE. YOU CAN TOO!”
More from Zak:
Daniels is taking her show national next month, according to marketer Chris Roberson, whose clients include the deja vu and Hustler strip club chains. She is scheduled to appear in Oklahoma City next month — the flier says “THE PORN STAR THAT TRUMPS THEM ALL” and “SEE THE PORN STAR WORTH $130,000” — and then Nashville and Shreveport, La.
Whether Daniels can engage in such innuendo without violating the nondisclosure agreement “turns on the actual terms and language of the agreement, which I have not seen,” said Kathleen Cahill, a Baltimore sexual harassment lawyer.
“My guess is she is out of compliance already but that Trump dare not threaten to sue her,” Cahill added.
Trump is, indeed, in a bind: He can't sue Daniels for breach of contract without admitting that a contract exists.
If Daniels already has broken the contract with impunity, why not just come right out and say that she slept with Trump?
Debra S. Katz, a partner at Katz, Marshall & Banks in Washington, explained that Daniels could open herself up to a different kind of lawsuit, a defamation suit, if she were to explicitly claim that she and Trump had an affair.
“It would be qualitatively different if she came forward and said, 'Yes, I had an affair,' ” Katz said. “Then I think he would sue her.”
In that scenario, Trump could continue to deny the existence of an affair or a payment for silence. He could stake a case on the premise that Daniels is lying about everything and damaging his reputation.
Thus, Daniels's inconsistencies could be the product of legal and public relations calculations.
“Doing what she's doing is keeping people like you, like me, like Jimmy Kimmel continuing to discuss her,” Katz said. “She's keeping us all engaged.”
Daniels was to appear on “The View” on Thursday, but she nixed the appearance on the ABC talk show on Wednesday.