Hushed Puppies

Stormy Daniels appeared on Jimmy Kimmel this week, shortly after President Trump’s State Of The Union address, to field questions about whether or not she shagged him during Shark Week. You’d have thought that the $130,000 non-disclosure agreement she supposedly signed would have made an interview like that a little tricky – but apparently not. How is she doing it? We have some theories.

During his interview with Stormy Daniels on Tuesday night, Jimmy Kimmel let a little something interesting slip.

As bombshells go, it was a fairly tame one – especially when the main story is about a porn star fucking the future US President while his wife was tending to their newborn child – but it was significant nonetheless. He mentioned, while rambling, that Stormy Daniels’ manager had been the one who suggested that she go on the show.

However, according to almost every report on the matter, Stormy Daniels supposedly took $130,000 of hush money and signed a non-disclosure agreement (an ‘NDA’) to keep quiet about the alleged affair that she’d had with Donald Trump back in 2006.

It doesn’t seem like those two things can co-exist. If she’s bound by a six-figure NDA, she is legally obliged not to talk about it. So why would she be actively trying to put herself in a position where she’s at risk of breaching her contract in front of millions of viewers? If she does break it, she stands to be sued for much more that then initial $130,000 she was paid.

But if she’s not bound by a six-figure NDA, then why would she squirm her way through an awkward ten-minute interview, giving such cagey and unsatisfactory answers to such simple, crowd-pleasing questions?

It seems to us that there are three possibilities here.
1/ That Stormy Daniels is under an NDA and she simply doesn’t give a fuck
2/ That Stormy Daniels is not under an NDA and she’s playing the media like a fiddle; or
3/ That Stormy Daniels is…

…actually, we’ll save that last one as as surprise.

Theory One: There’s An NDA

This is the story as it’s been reported so far.

In January this year, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged a payment of $130,000 to be made to a representative of the porn star Stormy Daniels. The transaction was made in mid-October 2016, mere weeks before election day, and conducted through a company that appears to have been set up solely to facilitate this one payment. The company (“Essential Consultants LLC”) was dissolved minutes after the transaction was complete.

The Wall Street Journal (and almost every outlet that has picked the story up since) alleges that this $130,000 was paid as hush money to buy Stormy Daniels’ silence about a supposed extramarital affair she had with Donald Trump ten years earlier, in 2006.

NDAs are commonly used to keep the details of celebrity’s sexual dalliances private. There needn’t be anything overly seedy about this practice. It doesn’t always mask infidelity, or outré kinks, or poor performance. Sometimes they’re used simply to secure and protect the right to privacy that most of enjoy about our own sex lives.

However, they can absolutely be used to cover a whole host of scandalous stuff too.

The NDA theory does sit rather neatly alongside an interview that Stormy Daniels gave to the magazine InTouch in 2011 – in which she very candidly spilled the beans about… well, spilling Trump’s beans.

The InTouch interview describes, in Stormy’s words, how the pair had had “textbook, generic” sex, how he had complimented her by comparing her to his daughter Ivanka, and how he spent a lot of their time together glued to the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.

Because the interview was given years prior to any formal agreement being drawn up, there’s not a huge amount that the NDA can do to sponge that up. Anything that’s already in the public domain can’t be retroactively covered.

That being so, this InTouch interview would afford Stormy a fair bit of latitude in what she can allude to – which is maybe why she feels confident enough to star on a TV talkshow the same night as the State Of The Union address. It doesn’t mean she has carte blanche though, which explains why she’s so hesitant and cagey whenever she gets a direct question.

Of course, it also helps that there’s very little (practically no) chance of Trump actually suing her for breach of contract. To do so would not only confirm the existence of said contract, it would all but confirm the contents of it.

That effectively makes the whole thing toothless, but it is still a legally binding document, so her lawyers probably won’t be encouraging her to be too cavalier about it.

However, in accepting this first theory, we are making two rather large assumptions. Firstly, that the $130,000 she was paid was intended as hush money. And, secondly, even if it was hush money, that still doesn’t mean that an NDA actually exists…

Theory Two: There’s No NDA

The simplest explanation for Stormy Daniels’ devil-may-care attitude to the six-figure gagging order she’s supposedly signed is this: it doesn’t exist.

We have collectively imagined that there has to be one because what else would Trump be paying for? Stormy, for her part, has certainly done nothing to disabuse us of the notion – but why would she? This whole thing is her big USP.

What we actually have though is a rather large gap that we’re filling with our best guess.

All we really know for sure is that a $130,000 payment was made to Stormy Daniels by a company set up by Trump’s personal lawyer. That looks suspicious as hell, yes, but – in and of itself – it’s not necessarily evidence that an NDA has been signed.

It’s entirely possible that there’s another explanation for the money. Maybe the money was for a modelling deal for a Trump brochure? Something that has had to be indefinitely postponed now that Trump is president? She’s a director. She knows how to make things look sexy. Maybe she was lined up to do a promo video for Mar-A-Lago?

If you think that this sort of stuff is a reach, there’s some precedent for this type of thing.

In November 2016, it emerged in the Wall Street Journal (again) that a company by the name of American Media, Inc. had paid $150,000 to a former Playboy Playmate, Karen McDougal.

McDougal was thought to be shopping around a kiss’n’tell tale of an extramarital affair that she’d had with Trump in 2006 too.

David Pecker (CEO of American Media, Inc. and close personal friend of Donald Trump) swooped in with what appeared to be a $150,000 offer. It was perfect fodder for his magazine, the National Enquirer, but instead of running her story, Pecker appeared to sit on it.

So was this hush money? Was Pecker buying McDougal’s silence to spare his pal Donnie’s blushes?

When pressed on the point, Pecker refuted it. He said that the money was merely a salary. McDougal had been paid in advance to appear on his magazines covers, and write a monthly health and wellness column that would appear in syndication across his titles over the next two years.

It was a salary, not a payout.

It just so happened that the terms of her employment would also prevent her from disparaging or embarrassing the American Media, Inc. family (a family that Pecker makes clear he considers Trump to be a part of). So if she did sell her story on him she might find herself out of a job.

This isn’t to say that there’s definitely no NDA between American Media, Inc. and Karen McDougal. There might be. As we say, they’re very common. We raise it more to make the point that alternate, more creative agreements also exist. Ones that don’t require formal paperwork, but instead create a certain… understanding.

If that’s what’s happened here – and Stormy is under the weight of nothing more than a gentleman’s agreement – then the worst she’s doing is nixing her chances of doing any future business with Trump Organisation. There may not be any legal repercussions to any of this coy little game she’s playing.

If people have got it into their heads that she’s under some sort of binding agreement, well, that’s hardly her fault – is it?

She never said that…

Theory Three: The Hybrid Theory

OK, this one’s a little outlandish, but hear us out.

What if it’s both?

What if Stormy Daniels is bound by an NDA (and is staying true to the very letter of it) but we’ve got a fundamentally inaccurate idea of what it covers?

Which is to say that the NDA that we’ve all imagined, and the NDA that actually exists, are two different things.

Let’s reconsider the timeline here.

The received wisdom about this whole NDA incident is that it was issued in response to the Access Hollywood tape.

You may remember the tape. It was the candid, hot-mic recording of Trump bragging to Billy Bush about how he was magnetically drawn to beautiful women. How he just started kissing them without asking. How he grabbed them by the pussy.

It emerged in early October 2016 – about a month ahead of election day – and the fallout is huge. It’s so significant that it forces Trump to do something he never does. He apologised.

It stands to reason that his people would be scared that more stories of Trump’s sexual profligacy would leak out and do further damage to his campaign, so it makes sense that they’d start tying up whatever loose ends it was possible to tie – beginning with the Playboy Playmate and the porn star.

David Pecker buys up Karen McDougal’s story of their affair, and puts her to work as a monthly columnist on $75,000 a year. Michael Cohen sets up Essential Consultants LLC and pays Stormy Daniels $130,000 for services rendered.

It all squares nicely.

But something else started happening in October 2016. Something other than the pussy tape that might have prompted Team Trump to take action on this front.

The piss tape.

Now, you’re maybe thinking that the Steele Dossier didn’t leak until January 2017, long after Trump had made these payments. And you’d be right. The actual contents of the Steele Dossier – including the piss tape allegations – were only made public when BuzzFeed published it in early January 2017.

But part of their justification for leaking it was because the existence of the dossier was an open secret among news organisations. The idea of Russian kompromat had been alluded to in press reporting long before January 2017.

In fact, the first public mentions of the existence of it were published in… October 2016.

Let’s just suspend our disbelief for a second and imagine that this Steele Dossier kompromat exists. That, somewhere, locked in a desk in the Kremlin, exists a thumb drive of Trump in the Moscow Ritz-Carlton watching a Russian prostitute absolutely soak the mattress that the Obamas slept on.

If you were Trump, and you had any inkling that there might be video evidence of this happening, that there was even the smallest chance that the Russians have some extremely juicy, piss-based blackmail in their back pocket, then you’d probably be very sensitive to absolutely any mention of any compromising materials that were being whispered about. You’d probably also be keen to do everything you could, as quickly as you could, to hush it up.

So how’s about this for a theory? Stormy Daniels is under an NDA, but the reason she’s been able to lead us on this merry dance as to whether or not she got humped by Trump in some sort of grotesque Ivanka role-play is because she’s yet to come anywhere near close to breaching it.

Because the NDA is about piss-play.

We’ve all been trying so hard to get to the bottom of whether or not the two of them had sex, we’ve ignored the very real possibility that the sex is a red herring.

We should be looking for a golden herring.

Trump doesn’t care if the world thinks he cheated on Melania. He especially doesn’t care if the world thinks he cheated on Melania with a hot porn star. Marital infidelity has been a large part of the Trump brand since forever, so the chances of him willing to part with money to cover up some “generic, textbook” sex are slim.

Let her talk about it, if she wants. She can say he grunted like a warthog. Say he had a cheeseburger in one hand. Say he called out Jake Tapper’s name as he reached the tickly bit. None of that stuff matters. Fake news, folks! Fake news!

The one thing he might care a little more about is any information that hints at a predilection for piss stuff. Because if there’s anything that risks confirming the most salacious detail in the Steele Dossier, that’s it. He’s done for.

Like we say: a long shot. Not least because Jimmy Kimmel is never going to be able to ask in-depth questions about watersports on ABC. But given all that’s happened in these last few years, can you honestly say, hand-on-heart, that it’s impossible?

No. Us neither.