President Donald Trump has been seeking counsel from confidantes on how he should handle the Stormy Daniels situation, a source close to the President tells CNN.
The source said Trump is being told by advisers not to fight Daniels’ decision to break a confidentiality agreement because it would make him look guilty. This source said it’s the only reason Trump has stayed quiet on the issue and hasn’t been tweeting about it.
The source also believes the controversy potentially poses a bigger threat to Trump’s presidency than Russia. The difference here compared to accusations from other women is that there’s a signed agreement and a payment.
Daniels, an adult film actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was paid $130,000 by Trump attorney Michael Cohen through a private LLC weeks before the 2016 election, and because Trump failed to sign the “hush agreement” regarding an alleged affair, Daniels’ lawyers said in a lawsuit that the agreement to stay silent about her alleged encounter with the business magnate is invalid.
On Monday, Clifford offered to return the $130,000 in exchange to speak freely about her interactions with Trump.
Following initial reports of Cohen’s payment to Daniels, Cohen said Trump “vehemently denies” any affair.
While Daniels’ lawyer has said Trump knew about the payment and had a sexual relationship with the actress (which the actress herself previously denied), Daniels has not explicitly spoken out about the alleged affair outside of the lawsuit filings.
CBS’s “60 Minutes” taped an interview with Daniels and producers are working to verify claims she made. The interview could air next Sunday, but CBS won’t confirm the air date or that there was even an interview at all. Three sources confirmed to CNN that Clifford made new claims about Trump in the interview.
BuzzFeed reported on Sunday that “lawyers associated with President Donald Trump are considering legal action to stop “60 Minutes” from airing” the interview. But it is unclear what kind of action could actually win support from a judge – the American legal system almost never allows such “prior restraint” of speech.
Cohen declined to comment to CNN on Sunday, deferring questions to his own lawyer. Larry Rosen, Cohen’s lawyer, has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
CBS also declined to comment on the interview or the prospect of legal action.
CNN’s Brian Stelter contributed to this report.