If President Donald Trump and his enablers thought they weathered the storm after Sunday night’s episode of 60 Minutes featuring Trump’s porn star mistress finally aired, Tuesday’s news cycle was a rude awakening.
Less than 48 hours after a record number of Americans saw Stormy Daniels reveal all the salacious details of the 2006 affair to Anderson Cooper, her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, is back on the attack.
Appearing on CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Avenatti told the eponymous host that two more women have come forward over the last two days with similar tales of affairs and hush-money payoffs, bringing the total number of accusers who have spoken to him alone to eight.
CNN’s Manu Raju tweeted about the exchange minutes after the revelation:
Eight women have now come forward to share with @MichaelAvenatti stories similar to Stormy Daniels’, up from six, though they have not been fully vetted, he tells @wolfblitzer. Two of the eight, he said, signed confidentiality agreements
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 27, 2018
This latest bombshell comes hot on the heels of Monday’s news that Daniels filed a defamation lawsuit against Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney and all around fixer.
“Daniels says that Cohen defamed her when he put out a statement in February regarding the $130,000 payment he made to her just before the election, allegedly in exchange for her silence,” NPR reported Monday.
Cohen’s clumsiness in arranging a Non Disclosure Agreement accompanying payment alluded to in the NPR report between then candidate Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels set-off a bizarre sequence of events that has landed both he and the president in hot water.
While initially successful – despite numerous rumors, the story did not go public during the campaign – Cohen’s cover-up was eventually exposed by the Wall Street Journal in January of this year. That’s when the Journal attained financial records that documented a $130,000 payment from a shell company set-up contemporaneously by Cohen, to an alias they eventually learned was really his long-rumored porn star mistress Stormy Daniels.
Once that crack in the damn appeared, Daniels decided it was time to go public on her own terms. After lawyering up, she’s now suing Trump to get the NDA nullified, arguing that the document is invalid because Trump didn’t sign it.
Defamation and future additional revelations by new accusers are the least of Tump’s and Cohen’s worries, however. Federal election officials are now looking into the matter to see if Cohen’s previously undisclosed payment to Daniels constitutes an illegal campaign donation and a violation of campaign finance laws. Since Cohen insists he was never reimbursed by Donald Trump or the Trump Organization, that payment to effectively silence someone who would have influenced the election could constitute an illegal donation, opening both Trump and Cohen up to severe punishment.
And while the news that Trump had an extra-marital affair with a porn star – his third wife and current First Lady, Melania, was home with their newly born son, Barron at the time – is a shocker to only the most blind and naïve of voters, there’s still the issue of the clumsy coverup orchestrated by Cohen.
Avenatti’s revelation of additional accusers Tuesday makes it clear how far Trump and his henchman went to cover-up alleged affairs, which had the effect of robbing the American people a complete understanding of the depths of Trump’s douchebaggery.
Whether or not all of that has political consequences for the president is yet to be seen. One can’t help but wonder the president would have been better served by simply telling the truth about the affair from the beginning.
The truth, of course, is rarely part of Trump’s playbook, in business, in life, or in politics.