Stormy Daniels Storms Into Town Ahead of Latest Trump Trial

Stormy Daniels, who is expected to be a star-witness for Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg who accuses former president Donald Trump of covering up a $130,000 hush-money payment to her, is debuting a documentary about her life in advance of the trial. Trump denies he had a one night fling with her.

| 23 Mar 2024 | 01:48

As the criminal trial against former president Donald Trump inches closer to a start date, one of the principal witnesses against him, porn star Stormy Daniels, stormed into town early, ready to cash in on her latest stab at celebrity with a new documentary entitled simply “Stormy.”

On March 18, the adult film star thundered across the cobble stoned floors of an erstwhile brewery in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in knee-high black leather boots, a black leather jacket and whirling platinum blond hair.

Hours before, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled that Stormy will be allowed to testify in the upcoming hush-money trial, the first criminal trial against a former president in US history. The trial was supposed to start on March 25, but was pushed back to at least mid April.

Stormy is expected to be a star-witness for Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who accuses Trump of covering up a $130,000 hush-money payment in an attempt to hide their alleged sexual encounter from voters during the 2016 presidential election. Trump denies the charges and the liaison.

The new documentary Stormy tells her side of the story. Now streaming on Peacock, it airs just in time for the historic trial. The film, directed by Sarah Gibson and co-produced by Erin Lee Carr (“Britney vs Spears”), chronicles Stormy’s years-long legal battle with the former president and how it turned her life upside down.

Monday’s viewing party at Three Dollar Bill, a venue that brands itself as the largest L.G.B.T.-owned and -operated nightclub in New York City, according to the New York Times, was surprisingly intimate. Around 35 people sat on folding chairs on the dance floor underneath a 50-foot high ceiling and a gigantic disco ball.

The host for the evening, Andrew Barret Cox, a performer and artist, called Stormy onto the stage to introduce the movie. “It’s hard to watch,” Stormy told her guests, “so if you hear me bawling in the background, just throw glitter and tissues.” She added that it was her birthday, “so I am taking drinks.”

Through old photographs shown in the film, we learn how Stormy, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, grew up in a low-middle class household in a rough neighborhood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. From early on she loved horses. She wanted to be a veterinarian and even got a scholarship for veterinary school. Through a friend she learned that she could make faster money in strip clubs. She started dancing. After high school, she moved to Los Angeles, got into the adult film industry, acting first, but would eventually write and direct, too.

Stormy describes how she met Trump during a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in July 2006. She was 27 and he was 60. Stormy says Trump was “a goofy reality TV-star”, whom she had seen on the Apprentice and wrestling programs. She accepted his dinner invitation. When she arrived early at the hotel, he was still in his room and opened the door in black silk pajamas. She says she told him to put on clothes, as “(Hugh) Hefner wanted his PJs back.”

They talked, she says, about directing feature films, and the possibility of getting on his show, the Apprentice. Their conversation wasn’t sexual until the mood suddenly turned. She came out of the bathroom and he cornered her. “I don’t remember how I got on the bed, and the next thing I know, he was humping away and telling me how great I was.” She says, “It was awful, but I didn’t say no.”

The film later reveals that she was sexually abused by a neighbor in Louisiana, who also abused other young girls, and has since died. “I have maintained it wasn’t rape in any fashion with Trump,” she says. “But I didn’t say no, because I was 9-year-old again. And the last thing I remember was, ‘I could totally take him if I want to scream or fight, but I’m not supposed to act like that.’”

She claims they never had sex again. Years passed. They didn’t speak. Then in 2016, shortly before the election, she said Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen approached her with a non-disclosure agreement regarding the old affair.

The film details Stormy’s version of the legal saga that unfolded, “the never ending avalanche of court documents.” In 2018, their affair was reported by the Wall Street Journal. Trump, who was the sitting president, called her a liar. She sued him for defamation, lost, appealed, lost again, and now owes him $600,000 in legal fees. She says she’d rather go to prison than pay him.

Unlike the writer E. Jean Carroll, who sued Trump twice for defamation and once for sexual assault, and was awarded $5 at the first and $83.3 million at the second trial, Stormy didn’t have good lawyers. Michael Avenatti, who forged her signature and stole money from her book sales, is currently in prison on unrelated crimes.

The six-year-long Trump battle drove her marriage to a breaking point. She divorced her husband. Her daughter suffered. She says her “soul is so tired” of it all. But she’s willing to testify against the former president.

”I’m more prepared with my legal knowledge but I’m also tired.” She says. “I won’t give up because I’m telling the truth.”

Her story has no real ending before this last show-down in the courtroom, she said during the Q & A after the film. “It’s like six years of foreplay, and no orgasm.”

The artist Jake Brush, who attends a weekly viewing party of Stormy’s reality TV-Show “For the Love of Dilfs” at Parkside Lounge in the Lower East Side, loved the movie.

“She was not trying to become some liberal super girl,” he said. Some people ascribe this liberation narrative onto her, he continued, others criticize her for seizing an opportunity to make as much money and success for herself as possible, “but how can you disagree with that? How can you not monetize that to build a better life for yourself and your family?”

The playwright, Liz Linkewitz, who wrote a monologue play called Mistresses about American presidents and their mistresses that features Stormy, liked the parts about Stormys love for her daughter. Most of Stormy’s “actions were to protect her daughter”.