Trump vs. Stormy Daniels: Who Do You Believe More?

Full disclosure, I think the evidence, for those who still care about such things, clearly points to Daniels (a.k.a. Stephanie Clifford) as more believable.  So, I was surprised to see the results of a study this morning that asked people the question in my title.   What surprises me is that Daniels only got a 4% advantage over Trump, 34% to 30%, while another 30% indicated they didn’t believe either one.

Add Trump’s 30% to the 30% that don’t believe either one, and you’ve got 60% who do not believe Daniels when, from my point of view, her story is far more compelling.  Think about her “colored” past anyway you want to, but there is no talk of her molesting anyone and bragging about it on Access Hollywood like there is with Trump.  Nor a string of 15 or so accusers of molestation coming forth.

But let’s just get to the heart of the issue:  Compare Trump, who has been proven to lie several times a day about all sorts of things, with Daniels who has stuck with the same story right along.  I have not seen proof she has lied about her relation with Trump.  The media calls it an “affair,” which I think over blows a one night stand.

Daniels has simply stated she slept with Trump once and it was consensual.  That was it.  She has been suing him because he has lied about it happening and her receiving a payoff to keep quiet.

I think she is a tough woman who doesn’t like being pushed around and wants vindication, which is not to say the money and attention she has garnered has not added fuel to her motivation.   I’m not arguing for her sainthood, just that her story is more believable than Trump’s, which to me is a low bar to hurdle.  The question isn’t motives but who has been more truthful.

To all those who don’t believe her, are you saying Daniels did not receive a payoff from Michael Cohen acting on behalf of Trump (do you think he forked out that 200 grand on his own?).  If you think so, I’d say just wait and see how the Cohen trial pans out.

My intention here is not to launch a full blown defense of Stormy Daniels, but to initiate possible conversations on the question of whose story is more truthful.  If we are ever going to bridge our political chasm, we have to find some topics that we can investigate together.  If we can’t come to terms on the truth of this situation, what can we agree upon?   To bridge both sides of the chasm requires something to talk about that it is simple enough to come up with a yes or no answer.

“Who do you believe” and why?    …….. is a place to start.

P. S. –  The study also shows that 72% of the Republicans questioned believed Trump. My theory is fewer than that believe him, but given our current tribalism, they answer as if they did.   I think there are plenty of Republicans who don’t like the man but like his policies enough to ignore their own feelings.  I imagine they think of the poll less as a matter of truth, but as a matter of whom they support.

The WSJ Editorial Board Can’t Stand Trump’s Behavior, Either

The right leaning editorial board of the Wall Street Journal tends to say nice things about Trump when they are somewhat warranted, rather than attack him, but even they are getting sick of his juvenile behavior as reflected in yesterday’s editorial titled:  The Tale of Stormy Donald:  His willful self-indulgence catches up to President Trump.

There are tons of left leaning and centrist criticisms of Trump, but when the WSJ mirrors them, it suggests there is some sense of a common reality among those across the political spectrum.  The White House does not only look chaotic to liberals, but to thinking conservatives as well.

“Every sentient voter in 2016 understood that Donald Trump had a bad history with women. He survived politically because his opponent had spent 20 years denying or apologizing for even worse behavior by her husband. But mistakes of character tend to catch up with everyone, and that’s what is now happening with President Trump and his many women.

Stormy Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford) may be a porn star and admitted liar with a shark for a lawyer, but her tale on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Sunday still has the potential to harm Mr. Trump. That’s not because of the 2006 hookup or its mockable details. Mr. Trump denies that it happened, but then why did his lawyer Michael Cohen go to such lengths to keep it quiet before Election Day in 2016?

The problem as ever is the cover-up. The Journal broke the story earlier this year that Mr. Cohen paid Ms. Clifford $130,000 in late October of 2016 not to talk about the liaison with Mr. Trump. On Sunday Ms. Clifford agreed it was “hush money.” The legal agreement has now broken down in mutual recriminations, and Mr. Cohen insists that he paid the $130,000 on his own without any discussion or repayment from Mr. Trump.

The legal issue is whether Mr. Cohen’s payment violated campaign-finance laws by exceeding the $5,400 donation limit from any individual. John Edwards, the former Democratic vice presidential nominee, was indicted in 2011 for using illegal campaign donations to conceal news about his mistress from voters.

A jury acquitted Mr. Edwards in 2012, in part due to the complexity of campaign-finance law, but that may not matter to Robert Mueller. The special counsel is supposed to be investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election but has already gone far afield to indict Paul Manafort and Rick Gates on money-laundering charges. Don’t be surprised if he also tries to squeeze Mr. Cohen to get to Mr. Trump.

It’s impossible to predict how all of this will play out politically. Many Trump partisans will refuse to believe it or claim it’s irrelevant. But our guess is that at the margin this contributes to a growing public belief that Mr. Trump’s personal flaws are undermining his chances for a successful Presidency.

Two months ago he had emerged from a tumultuous first year with the triumph of tax reform and rising poll numbers. The strong economy had Republicans closing the gap with Democrats on who should run Congress next year. But Mr. Trump can’t resist promoting White House strife and making himself the center of political tumult.

His recent selections of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo for his security team are first rate. But Mr. Trump’s reality-TV dismissal of their predecessors was nasty and chaotic. On Friday he threatened to veto a budget bill his own staff had been negotiating for weeks—further souring voters on the GOP Congress. Doesn’t he realize that if Democrats win the House, they will vote to impeach him?

Mr. Trump can’t retain the best legal counsel because no one wants a client who ignores all advice. He wants to answer questions from Mr. Mueller but probably won’t prepare enough to avoid even accidental self-incrimination. The Stormy Daniels case is typical of Mr. Trump’s pre-presidential behavior in thinking he can, with enough threats and dissembling, get away with anything. He’s never understood that a President can’t behave that way, and this may be the cause of his downfall.”

P. S. – There has long been a split between the news division and editorial division of the WSJ.  The news division comes up with some great scoops regardless of their political impact, scoops that provide facts not necessarily supportive of their editorials.   Anyway, the above is an example of the two divisions coming together on the issue of Trump’s behavior.   I guess as he touts, in some cases he is a unifier.

Michael Avennati, Game Playing and Public Opinion

While I still think Stephanie Clifford is much more honest than Donald Trump (a low bar I know), her lawyer, Michael Avennati, undermined the power of that contrast by trying to get too cute regarding the 60 Minutes interview with Clifford yesterday.

Last week he popped up everywhere on politics TV, teasing out all sorts of possibilities of what Stormy would reveal Sunday, implying hard evidence would be displayed.   It turned out no hard evidence was produced and the only thing significantly new was her assertion that a man physically threatened her in a parking garage if she didn’t shut up about Trump.  No proof was given, so how do we know she didn’t make that up?

In the court of public opinion it comes down to whether you tend to believe her or not.  Does she deserve credit for standing up to Trump, or is she just playing us a long as Trump regularly tries to do.

I feel played and I feel pissed.

You can’t project yourself as a truth teller and then offer no proof and/or little in the way of new information, especially after hyping the appearance for days.

Being known as a “porn star” provides a couple of strikes against Clifford’s character to begin with.  Implying goods would be revealed and then holding them back Sunday further diminishes trust in her and her arguments.

I don’t want to hear anything more from either of them unless it is accompanied with the hard evidence they keep implying they have.

Truth and Lies: Stormy Daniels vs. Donald Trump

I’m writing about Stephanie Clifford (a. k. a. Stormy) because, foremost, she is the only topic in Trumptopia that makes me smile.   Secondly, every other topic I can think of is too complex and/or given to too much speculation.  The speculation is more contained with Stephanie’s issue.   It boils down to who is telling the truth, and it looks like Trump won’t get away with this lie as he has with so many others.  Ironically, Stephanie is a real person known by a fake name, while Trump is a fraud known by his real name.   But not always, as we soon shall see.

As you probably know, Stephanie had an affair with Trump a few years before the election and was paid $130 grand shortly before the voting to hush up about it.  Of course, as with any of his sexual indiscretions (big and small) he denies it ever happened and denies he knew anything about the hush money paid by a long time personal lawyer Michael Cohen.  The fly in the ointment is their account of the story is impossible to believe, unless you have stopped thinking altogether, reminding me of an old Scottish aphorism:  “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

True, Trump has been a Houdini in escaping a multitude of previous webs, but I’m betting Stephanie can be the one to nail him.   Way before Mueller gets around to it.  If the affair never happened, why did Cohen pay Stephanie all that money?   All I’ve heard from Cohen is, yes, he paid the money, but no Trump didn’t know and the affair never happened to begin with.   Ah……could you run that explanation by me again?

Also, why would Trump’s organization and Cohen now be threatening to sue Clifford for $20 million for things they fear she might expose on 60 Minutes this Sunday and who knows when and where afterwards?

As Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti has described the whacky scenario in a tweet:   “How can President Trump seek $20 million in damages against my client based on an agreement that he (Trump) and Mr. Cohen claim he never was a party to and knew nothing about?”

Avenatti says they aren’t afraid of Trump’s threats, as they argue the non-disclosure agreement was invalid because Trump never signed it, not even signing in the blank space over his alias in the suit, David Dennison.  My guess is they thought if Trumped signed it (bring in the hand writing experts), he couldn’t completely deny knowing about it, even if he signed Santa Clause.

I’m smiling thinking of this, as Clifford and Avenatti appear to have Cohen and Trump caught in their own twisted web, beating them at their own manipulative game.  Avenatti  has been making the political talk show circuit implying all sorts of goodies Stephanie has to share with us Sunday, offering up a lie detector test she passed in 2011 as an appetizer.

You may have noticed, I have avoided the terms “porn star” or the somewhat less derogative “adult film star” in reference to Ms. Clifford because the more I’ve read about her the more respect I feel.  She seems smart and tough and brave.  Sure she welcomes the money and attention but, unlike Trump, if she wins this game it is because her claims are based on facts and honesty, in contrast with Trump’s success formula, a web of deceit spun over years.

If she triumphs, it will help the legal cases against Trump of  a former Apprentice contestant and a former playboy model, not to mention those dozen plus women who accused Trump of molesting them prior to the election, tossed aside because Trump denied the claims of all of them.   And the press let them fall by the wayside, too busy combating Trump’s latest lies after he became president.

It all fits so well in the upside down world of Trumptopia whereby the porn star is actually the one who can be trusted while the president can not be.

P. S. –  Want to know a little more about Ms. Daniels?  Go here.