Stormy Daniels's “60 Minutes” interview was not packed with new information. Most of what she told Anderson Cooper she had previously alleged in court documents and in a 2011 interview that In Touch magazine published for the first time in January.
The principal value of the porn star's sit-down with CBS was in the format: This was the first chance for voters to see her describe an alleged affair with President Trump and to decide whether they believe the words coming out of her mouth.
So, where did Daniels leave herself open to attack? Trump has denied the affair through spokesmen and, although he has refrained from further comment, may work behind the scenes to discredit her.
Daniels's most glaring vulnerability is her prior insistence that she did not have sex with Trump. She told E! News in 2011 that the rumor was false and issued two additional denials in January, after the Wall Street Journal reported that she had been paid $130,000 to keep quiet before Election Day 2016.
“Come on,” Cooper said to Daniels's attorney, Michael Avenatti, on “60 Minutes.” “You would not sign statements one, two, three times about something which you knew to be a lie.”
Avenatti replied, “If the president of the United States' fixer made it clear to me, either directly or indirectly, that I needed to sign it, and I was in the position of Stormy Daniels, I might sign those statements.”
Daniels said she “felt intimidated and honestly bullied.”
“I didn't know what to do,” she said. “And so I signed it.”
Daniels's explanation is certainly plausible. It is worth remembering that Juanita Broaddrick, who alleges Bill Clinton raped her in 1978, signed an affidavit in which she denied being assaulted, only to change her story later. Trump and some of his supporters do not hold Broaddrick's inconsistency against her, so to discount Daniels solely because she has altered her account would be hypocritical.
Still, Daniels is in the difficult position of someone whose irreconcilable statements make clear that she lied at one time or another.
“How do we know you're telling the truth [now]?" Cooper asked her.
“Cause I have no reason to lie,” Daniels replied. “I'm opening myself up for, you know, possible danger and definitely a whole lot of s---.”
Daniels has indeed opened herself to considerable grief, but she arguably does have some reason to lie.
“Yes, I'm getting more job offers now,” she acknowledged.
It is hard to imagine that Daniels would invite the level of scrutiny she is now under just to book more gigs at strip clubs; she is, however, profiting from her newfound fame.
Another risk for Daniels is that voters will suspect her coyness is a bluff. For three weeks, she and Avenatti have dangled the idea that she might possess photos and text messages that support her account of an affair. They declined again to produce any such evidence on “60 Minutes.”
Could Daniels be saving evidence for her lawsuit against Trump, which seeks to void a nondisclosure agreement? Of course. But since she is flouting the nondisclosure agreement anyway, it is natural to wonder why, if she has a smoking gun, she has not revealed it yet.