Critic's Notebook: Daniels' '60 Minutes' Interview Could Be a Perfect Storm for Trump
Speaking with Anderson Cooper, porn actress Stormy Daniels described her affair with Trump and its aftermath as viewers cringed with national embarrassment.
There's only one possible reaction anyone could have after watching the Stormy Daniels interview on 60 Minutes.
It's come to this. In a contest between a porn star and the president of the United States as to which one has the most dignity, the porn star wins. Hands down.
Yes, we've known about Trump's debasement of women from the beginning. He described it for us on the Access Hollywood tape. But even his biggest fans, the evangelicals, might have to rethink their support after hearing Daniels' account of her brief 2006 affair with the current leader of the free world. If by chance they missed the broadcast, perhaps CBS could arrange for special screenings in their churches.
Sunday night's show should prove a big ratings bonanza. And while 60 Minutes always has plenty of viewers, you can bet their number went up by at least one. Trump was obviously watching, although he was probably annoyed that he had to tape America's Funniest Home Videos.
Trump has tweeted endlessly about national threats ranging from North Korea to Alec Baldwin. But he's been strangely silent about Daniels, not tweeting about her at all before the broadcast. He shouldn't be embarrassed, though; it's not unusual for an older man, especially one dealing with a much younger woman, to occasionally experience tweeting dysfunction.
Speaking with Anderson Cooper, Daniels said that one of the first things Trump said to her was, "Have you seen my new magazine?" Meaning, with his picture on the cover. As pickup lines go, it's not one of the best. Daniels responded, "Someone should take that magazine and spank you with it."
"I'll never forget the look on his face," she recalled, laughing. "I remember him going, 'You wouldn't.'"
But she did. She ordered him to turn around and drop his pants. "He was a completely different man" after the spanking, she told Cooper. Maybe Democrats should rethink their strategy when it comes to opposing Trump. Forget political pressure. Hire a dominatrix.
(If you can get the image of Trump being spanked by a porn star out of your head, you're made of stronger stuff than me. I meant to file this story in a more timely fashion, but I had to take a shower before writing it.)
Trump also told Daniels, "You remind me of my daughter." Again, all I can say is, "Ewww!" Can we at least all agree that this man is in serious need of therapy? And since Ivanka is directly involved, family counseling?
After using the bathroom, Daniels came back into the room to find Trump "perched" on the edge of the bed. It's a wonder she doesn't have PTSD. She then had sex with him, even though she wasn't physically attracted to him and didn't want to, she noted. It was the same way many people voted for him.
In true Hollywood casting couch tradition, Trump dangled an appearance on The Apprentice as part of his seduction technique. And in even truer Hollywood casting couch tradition, he didn't come through. Although a year later, he asked for a private meeting at his bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel to further discuss the matter. When Daniels arrived, he made her watch an entire Shark Week documentary. Remember, this is a man who's made it publicly known that he hates sharks. And yet he forces himself to watch films about them. Maybe a dominatrix wasn't available that day.
Daniels recounted how, after she sold her story about Trump to a magazine in 2011, she was approached in a Las Vegas parking lot by a man who threatened her in front of her infant daughter. She quoted him as saying, "That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom." Her account has to be true. Only Hollywood screenwriters can invent dialogue that cheesy.
In the last days of the presidential campaign, Trump's attorney Michael Cohen contacted Daniels and offered $130,000 if she would sign a nondisclosure agreement. She did sign it. Unfortunately for Trump, he didn't, which could come back to bite him. Cohen now says he personally laid out the money for his client. Because, as we all know, when you're in a tight spot, your lawyer will happily pay the bill.
When the story broke earlier this year in The Wall Street Journal, Daniels signed a statement denying that she'd had an affair with Trump. She now says that was a lie, motivated by fear of legal repercussions and much worse. So, her credibility is admittedly an issue. Except that anyone who would lie about having sex with Trump would have to be seriously disturbed, and that's not how she came across in the interview. Yes, the star of such cinematic gems as Good Will Humping and Young & Anal seems more trustworthy than the president. A president who's now threatening her with a $20 million lawsuit. Roy Cohn, no doubt watching from below, must be so proud.
The juiciest part of all this is that Trump may find himself in seriously hot water. Not because he had sex with a porn star. That's something he would only brag about. But rather because — as Trevor Potter, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission who also was interviewed on the broadcast, pointed out — it could be considered an illegal campaign contribution.
Sure, it would be great for Trump to face charges from Robert Mueller of colluding with Russia. But that would imply some degree of competence on the part of his campaign. No, better for Trump to be brought down by a porn star. That would be pure karma.