Anderson Cooper’s much anticipated interview with Stormy Daniels on CBS’ “60 Minutes” Sunday – was both what you might expect and revelatory. In some ways, Daniels seemed to be the cliché of the adult star. Her looks are hard and voluptuous, with lines and dark circles under the eyes and a big chest that appears particularly broad in a horizontal-striped top.
Her attitude suggested a woman who’s been around the block as well. She was knowing, sassy and utterly credible.
Perhaps the most surprising thing was that for a woman whose profession must require a degree of self-protection and self-awareness, Daniels came across as less self-aware and more vulnerable than you might imagine. At the outset, she said that hers was not #MeToo story. Yet in some ways, it was, it is. When she met now President Donald J. Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada in 2006, he was in the midst of his “Celebrity Apprentice” period. She called him on his narcissism – the conversation was at first all about him – but rather than being put off with that, he was charmed, describing her as smart and beautiful, a woman to be reckoned with just like his daughter. (Again with the daughter.) Perhaps she could appear on “The Celebrity Apprentice”?
Daniels went to his hotel room and, after emerging from the bathroom, found him ready for sex. Here’s where it gets (psychologically) revealing. She acquiesced not because she wanted to have sex with him but because she thought that was the price she had to pay for making the mistake of going to his room.
Huh? If it had been me, I would’ve said, “I’m outta here,” but then, I wouldn’t have gone to his room. Still, I find a pattern of traditional female behavior in her thinking: I screwed up, therefore, I need to be punished. No man thinks this way. Rather he says, I screwed up, let me see what I can get away with.
Things took a more chilling turn as the non-relationship – the two met privately only once more and did not have sex, she said – entered its nondisclosure phase.
“I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. T-- taking, you know, the seats facing backwards in the backseat, diaper bag, you know, gettin' all the stuff out. And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone…. I was rattled. I remember going into the workout class. And my hands are shaking so much, I was afraid I was gonna-- drop her.”
Sheesh. In the end, such intimidation may prove tangled up in campaign finance laws. Needless to say, Daniels’ ultra-sharp lawyer, Michael Avenatti, sees what happened as larger than that:
“This is about the cover-up. This is about the extent that (Trump lawyer Michael D.) Cohen and the president have gone to intimidate this woman, to silence her, to threaten her, and to put her under their thumb. It is thuggish behavior from people in power. And it has no place in American democracy.”