Former President Donald Trump was indicted in New York City on Thursday on criminal charges arising from alleged hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to avoid a scandal ahead of the 2016 US election.
Daniels has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, the year after he married his third wife Melania and more than a decade before the businessman-turned-politician — at the time known for a popular reality TV show — became president.
Trump has denied the relationship and has said the payment was made to stop her “false and extortionist accusations.”
Here are facts about Daniels and her alleged relationship with Trump.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is 44 years old and from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has been a well-known personality for more than two decades in the adult film business, appearing in and directing numerous videos.
What did Trump do?
Daniels has said she was introduced to Trump in July 2006 at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. She said he invited her to dinner and they dined at his hotel suite, where he showed her a copy of a golf magazine with his picture on the cover.
“And I was like, ‘Someone should take that magazine and spank you with it,'” Daniels told the CBS program “60 Minutes” in 2018.
“So he turned around and pulled his pants down a little — you know had underwear on and stuff — and I just gave him a couple of swats,” Daniels said.
She said Trump asked her about herself and whether she would like to appear on his TV show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
“He was like, ‘Wow, you — you are special. You remind me of my daughter.’ You know, he was like, ‘You’re smart and beautiful, and a woman to be reckoned with, and I like you. I like you,'” Daniels said.
She said she excused herself at one point to use the bathroom and when she returned Trump was “perched” on the edge of the bed.
“I realised exactly what I’d gotten myself into. And I was like, ‘Ugh, here we go,” Daniels told “60 Minutes.” “And I just felt like maybe … I had it coming for making a bad decision for going to someone’s room alone.”
She said the two had consensual sex.
Daniels said Trump made telephone calls to her over the following year and she met him again at his request in July 2007 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles to discuss her possible appearance on “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Daniels said he wanted to have sex again at the hotel but she declined. She said Trump called her a month later to tell her he had not been able to get her booked on “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Payment and non-disclosure agreement
On October 28, 2016, in the waning days before the presidential election that Trump won, Daniels signed a non-disclosure agreement in which she pledged not to publicly discuss her relationship with him in exchange for a $130,000 payment, according to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court.
The pact was signed by Keith Davidson, her lawyer at the time, and Michael Cohen, then Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer. The document included a spot for Trump’s signature, but he never signed it.
In 2018, after the Wall Street Journal reported on the payment to Daniels, Cohen stated publicly that he paid her using his own money and was not directed to do so by Trump. Daniels sued Trump and Cohen seeking to have the agreement invalidated.
Trump’s lawyers subsequently acknowledged he did not sign the non-disclosure agreement and would not seek to enforce it. A judge dismissed her lawsuit because the matter was resolved.
Daniels filed a 2018 defamation lawsuit against Trump in federal court over a Twitter post in which he accused her of a “con job” after she described being threatened over publicising her account of an alleged sexual relationship with him.
A Los Angeles-based federal judge decided in 2018 that Trump’s remarks were not defamatory and were protected by the US Constitution’s First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.
The judge’s decision was upheld on appeal and the US Supreme Court in 2021 declined to review the matter.
Daniels has said an unknown man approached her and her infant daughter in 2011 in a Las Vegas parking lot and made threats after she agreed to talk about her relationship with Trump in a media interview.
In 2018, she released a sketch of the man. Trump responded on Twitter to the release of the sketch, writing: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”