Today (4 April) will mark a historic milestone in US history as former presidentDonald Trump, who is the subject of numerous investigations into the 2016 election, will appear in court in Manhattan to answer to criminal accusations connected to hush money payments.
Although far from normal, the booking and arraignment of Trump will probably only last a few minutes as he gets his fingerprints taken, learns the specific charges brought against him, and enters his expected “not guilty” plea.Trump, who was twice impeached by the US House of Representatives but was never found guilty by the US Senate, will be the first former president to be charged with a crime. The Secret Service will accompany the country's 45th president from Trump Tower to the courts, where he may even be photographed for a mug shot.
Prosecutors spent months looking into money given to adult actor Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, whom Trump feared would come forward with claims that they had extramarital affairs with him.
But who exactly is Stormy Daniels, what is her relationship to Trump, and what do her allegations mean for the ex-President’s campaign to lead the country once again? Here is everything you need to know about it.
Who is Stormy Daniels?
Born in 1979 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Stormy Daniels, real name is Stephanie Clifford, is an American adult film actress, director and writer. She started her career in the adult film industry in 2002, and has since appeared in over 150 adult films.
She has won several awards for her work in the adult film industry, including the AVN Award for Best Screenplay in 2010, and has also appeared in mainstream movies and TV shows.
She gained public attention in early 2018 for her alleged affair with Trump, which she claimed occurred in 2006 after they met at a celebrity golf tournament. The alleged affair became a matter of public interest during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, but it wasn’t until 2018 that Daniels went public with her account of the affair.
It was reported that Daniels had been paid $130,000 (£105,000) by Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, just before the 2016 presidential election, as part of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that prevented her from discussing the alleged affair.
However, Daniels later filed a lawsuit claiming that the NDA was invalid, and that she should be allowed to speak publicly about the alleged affair. This led to a legal battle between Daniels and Trump, with Trump denying the affair and claiming that the NDA was binding.
But in March 2019, Daniels’ lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge, who ruled that the case was moot because Trump and Cohen had agreed not to enforce the NDA.
At time of writing, Daniels is thought to have a net worth of around $1 million (£809,000), according to CelebrityNetWorth.
Why has Trump been indicted?
We may not learn of the exact nature of the charges against Trump until the time of the hearing itself, as the indictment remains under seal. But they are believed to stem from the payments made to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to bury their claims of extramarital affairs with Trump.
Late in the 2016 presidential campaign, Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 (£105,000) to keep her silent about what she said was a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier.
Cohen was then reimbursed by Trump’s company, the Trump Organisation, which also rewarded the lawyer with bonuses and extra payments logged internally as legal expenses. Over several months, Cohen said, the company paid him $420,000 (£340,000).
Earlier in 2016, Cohen also arranged for the publisher of the supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer to pay McDougal $150,000 (£121,000) to squelch her story of a Trump affair in a journalistically dubious practice known as “catch-and-kill”.
The payments to the women were intended to buy secrecy, but they backfired almost immediately as details of the arrangements leaked to the news media.
Paying a person “hush money” is not against the law, but it’s alleged that the former president recorded the payments as a business expense. In New York, it is illegal to falsify business records. According to prosecutors, plans are being made to coordinate Trump’s surrender, which could happen early next week.