Stormy Daniels is an adult film actress whose relationship with former US President Donald Trump has introduced her to the wider public in the United States and around the world.
Daniels says she first crossed paths with the real-estate-mogul-turned-politician in the summer of 2006 during a charity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, on the border between California and Nevada. The actress had just made a brief appearance in the Judd Apatow film, “The 40-year-old Virgin”.
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Daniels was 27 at the time and Trump was 60.
According to Daniels’s account, he invited her to dinner in his suite where he welcomed her dressed in his pyjamas.
She claims they went on to have what “may have been the least impressive sex I’d ever had”. Trump has denied they ever had sexual relations, accusing Daniels of “extortion” and saying her claims are a “total con job”.
What is known for sure is that Daniels received $130,000 – a hush payment – just before the 2016 presidential election in which Trump ran as the Republican nominee
That payment is at the heart of the Manhattan district attorney’s indictment of Trump, reportedly on the possible violation of campaign finance laws.
Once the transaction was revealed in 2018, Daniels asked the courts to nullify her nondisclosure agreement with Trump and began making the rounds on television shows.
On CBS’s 60 Minutes, she said she wanted to set the record straight: “I’m not a victim,” she stated flatly. And even if she was not attracted to him that night in Lake Tahoe, she said their relationship was consensual.
The actress was also clear-eyed about the promises she said Trump made regarding a possible role in the hit show “The Apprentice,” in which he then starred.
Did she think he was trying to lure her?
“Of course. I mean, I’m not blind. But at the same time, maybe it’ll work out,” she said, adding that she saw the relationship as a potential career boost.
Stephanie Clifford – her real name, though she prefers Stormy Daniels, her stage name – was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and raised by her mother following her parents’ divorce. She was neglected by her family and sexually abused at age nine by an older man, she wrote in a 2018 memoir. Despite everything, she was a good student and passionate about horses.
To earn a living, she first turned to striptease, then the adult film industry, where she became a star actress, director and screenwriter, earning several awards.
Trump supporters routinely insult Daniels on social media, echoing the Republican leader who infamously nicknamed her “horse face”.
But the 44-year-old Daniels – who once toyed with entering politics herself – has largely handled the spotlight with aplomb.
She has since taunted Trump back with crude monikers of her own, such as “Tiny”, an unflattering reference to his anatomy.
Daniels, who gave serious consideration to running for a US Senate seat for Louisiana in 2010, has a daughter, and last year married her fourth husband, fellow porn actor Barrett Blade.
“I have so many messages coming in that I can’t respond … also don’t want to spill my champagne,” she tweeted on Thursday, while also plugging her #TeamStormy merchandise, after Trump was indicted in New York.
Thank you to everyone for your support and love! I have so many messages coming in that I can't respond…also don't want to spill my champagne 😜 #Teamstormy merch/autograph orders are pouring in, too! Thank you for that as well but allow a few extra days for shipment.
— Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) March 30, 2023
While she sipped champagne, her attorneys took a more sober stance.
“The indictment of Donald Trump is no cause for joy,” they said in a statement.
“The hard work and conscientiousness of the grand jurors must be respected. Now let truth and justice prevail.”