Another sex scandal: Trump’s ‘hush money’
In any normal administration, the revelations would be “a Category 5 hurricane,” said Dana Milbank in The Washington Post. Former Playboy model Karen McDougal had a nine-month affair with Donald Trump back in 2006, just months after his wife, Melania, gave birth to their son, Barron, according to a handwritten account from the time obtained by The New Yorker. In 2016, McDougal sold the rights to her story for $150,000.to American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer—but the company, which is owned by longtime Trump friend David Pecker, never published it, as a favor to then presidential candidate Trump. That report comes at the same time President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen confirmed that shortly before the 2016 election, he personally paid $130,000 in hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels. Daniels says she also had an affair with Trump in 2006. Can you imagine how these revelations would affect any other president? asked Ryan Cooper in TheWeek.com. “Sean Hannity’s eyes would have popped out of his sockets in rage if Barack Obama had paid secret hush money to anyone, let alone a porn star.”
Trump’s past conduct was “gross and unworthy,” said Rich Lowry in NationalReview.com, but there’s a reason why these stories won’t bring down his presidency. Voters elected Trump despite extensively aired accusations of sexual misconduct by 19 women. Unless he has been “stupid enough” to continue misbehaving in the White House, as President Clinton did, this scandal won’t hurt him. Still, Trump must be nervous, said Jeremy Binckes in Salon.com. Cohen’s payment to Daniels may have violated campaign finance laws, and the porn star says the Trump lawyer’s public statement about the payments breached their nondisclosure agreement, freeing her to speak openly about the affair.
Think about what these salacious stories tell us, said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com. The “wildest and most memorable allegation” from the Steele dossier is that Russia has compromising video of Trump and prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room. Is that so far-fetched? Trump is clearly willing to pay for sex: McDougal said he “offered her money” after they slept together, and he later promised another porn star $10,000 And we now have proof he can be blackmailed. Given Russia’s long history of “gathering compromising sexual secrets on prominent foreign visitors,” the odds that Moscow has “blackmail leverage” over the president seem “disconcertingly high.” ■