WASHINGTON – After 61 weeks in the White House, President Donald Trump has found two people he won’t attack on Twitter: Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.
The verbose Trump has posted more than 2,900 times on Twitter since taking office, using the term “FAKE NEWS” to describe everything from the Russia inquiry and allegations of chaos in the White House to harassment accusations and the size of his inaugural crowds.
But he has been uncharacteristically silent in recent days — to the relief of his advisers — as a pornographic film star and a Playboy model described intimate details of sexual encounters with Trump. Stephanie Clifford, known in pornographic films as Stormy Daniels, said Sunday night on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that she once spanked the president with a copy of Forbes magazine bearing his face on the cover.
The fact that the president has not given oxygen to the headlines, however, does not mean that he is content.
Privately, Trump has lobbed sharp attacks at Daniels and her media tour, calling her allegations a “hoax” and asking confidants if the episode is hurting his poll numbers. The president even has griped to several people that Daniels is not the type of woman he finds attractive, the Washington Post reported.
On Monday, Daniels’ lawyer added new charges to the suit she filed: that Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, defamed Daniels in denying her claims; that he and Trump pursued the deal to specifically help Trump’s election prospects; and that he then structured the agreement to shield from public view what was, effectively, an illegal $130,000 campaign gift.
In discussions with allies and aides, Trump has privately railed against Daniels, and insisted that she is not telling the truth. He has reminded advisers that he joined an effort to enforce financial penalties against Daniels, whose TV interview Sunday night was hyped throughout the weekend on the cable channels that Trump watches obsessively.
But there has been no debate among Trump’s advisers about the best course for him: just keep quiet about a story that would only be fueled by a presidential tweet or a comment about the women shouted above the roar of Marine One.
But keeping a lid on Trump is never easy.
Raj Shah, a deputy White House press secretary, declined to say “what the president may or may not have seen” on television Sunday night, though he said that Trump denies the allegations.
Melania Trump, too, has been silent. Asked to react to the interviews, Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s spokeswoman, said: “She’s focusing on being a mother, she’s quite enjoying her spring break and she’s focused on future projects.”
It is not clear whether Donald Trump watched a similar tell-all interview on CNN Thursday, when Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, alleged a 10-month affair with Trump in which they repeatedly had sex.
Sunday’s interview with Daniels contained few surprises but some humiliating details, such as Daniels saying she was not attracted to Trump, and her recollection of spanking him. Virility and strength are key traits that the president likes to project.
Donald Trump did type out a vague “Fake News” tweet Monday morning, although it is unclear to what he was referring. “So much Fake News,” he wrote. “Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate.”