The judge was having none of it. “No one is above the law,” New York Supreme Court Judge Jennifer G. Schecter said at the start of her ruling — a direct and rather pointed rebuke of the Trump team's legal arguments. The proceeding is merely the latest in which the notoriously fact-challenged president might be questioned under oath, with the other being special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation.
Daniels's momentum has been building for some time — toward possibly ensnaring Trump and allowing Daniels to tell her tale. But whether she and Trump even had the affair is somewhat beside the point; the real question is whether a crime was committed when Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paid her $130,000 in exchange for her silence.
Cohen and the White House still have not denied that Trump was party to that transaction, and we recently found out the Trump Organization hasn't exactly been insulated from all the Daniels machinations — despite Cohen assuring us it wasn't involved in the initial arrangement. If the Daniels payment was geared toward affecting the election and was covered up, it opens Trump up to legal jeopardy. And Daniels has shown she is more than happy to do what it takes to keep her case in the news.
The McDougal case is the least-developed of all, and thus far it hasn't gotten nearly as close to Trump. But it raises no fewer legal and personal questions. In her case, the nondisclosure agreement was facilitated not by Trump's lawyer, but by a sympathetic publication: the National Enquirer, whose publisher is run by close Trump friend David Pecker. The details of the Playboy Playmate's allegations are similar to both Daniels and Zervos (though, to be clear, Daniels and McDougal have both described their encounters as consensual, while Zervos had accused Trump of sexually assaulting her).
McDougal hasn't been as creative in trying to get around her nondisclosure agreement as has Daniels, but it was announced Tuesday that she is set to do her first cable TV interview Thursday with CNN's Anderson Cooper — three days before Daniels's “60 Minutes” interview is slated to air.
All three of these cases contain many unanswered questions, but they also clearly have motivated women behind them now. The White House and Trump allies have tried to keep the women quiet using various methods, but none of them seem to be going away anytime soon.
Trump fended off numerous accusations of sexual harassment during the campaign, but that was when there was a finite amount of time for people to make judgments. He no longer has that luxury, and the result is what we saw Tuesday — and what we'll see in the days to come.