Ex-Porn Star Stephanie Clifford Was Reportedly Paid Off Right Before Trump's Election

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that one month before the 2016 election, a lawyer for Donald Trump allegedly paid ex-porn star Stephanie Clifford $130,000 to stay quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump. Sources who spoke to the Journal said that Daniels told them about a consensual sexual encounter she and Trump had in 2006, when Trump was married to Melania. Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen and the White House both categorically deny the allegations of a sexual encounter, although neither denied or addressed the reported $130,000 payment.

“This is now the second time that you are raising outlandish allegations against my client,” Cohen told the Journal in the statement. “You have attempted to perpetuate this false narrative for over a year; a narrative that has been consistently denied by all parties since at least 2011.” He said that Trump "once again vehemently denies" having had a sexual encounter with Daniels.

Although Cohen himself did not directly address the reports of a payment to Clifford, he did give the Journal a letter signed by "Stormy Daniels" — Clifford's stage name — that denied the encounter and called the hush money allegations "completely false." Clifford herself declined to comment on the story when asked directly by the Journal.

It is not clear whether Trump himself knew of the alleged payment, according to the Journal.

"I recently became aware that certain news outlets are alleging that I had a sexual and/or romantic affair with Donald Trump many, many, many years ago. I am stating with complete clarity that this is absolutely false," reads the letter — ostensibly signed by Clifford under her stage name — that Cohen released. "When I met Donald Trump, he was gracious, professional and a complete gentleman to me and EVERYONE in my presence. Rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false."

According to the Journal, the payment was delivered to Clifford through her lawyer's client-trust account; Clifford's lawyer refused to comment, citing attorney-client privilege. Sources also told the Journal that Clifford's camp complained at one point that the payment was taking too long to come through, and threatened to withdraw from the agreement.

Clifford is an award-winning adult film star who's appeared in over 200 films and directed 89, according to the Internet Adult Film Database. She won the Cyberspace Adult Video Reviews's Star of the Year award in 2005, and was named Performer of the Year at the Video on Demand awards two years later. According to the Journal, Clifford told friends that her alleged encounter with Trump occurred after the two met at a July 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. Trump and Melania married in 2005.

The Journal had reported four days before the election that Clifford was in talks to appear on Good Morning America to discuss Trump. That article contained no mention of the Trump team paying hush money to Clifford or anyone. It did, however, contain an otherwise-unrelated allegation that the National Inquirer, three months earlier, had paid a former Playmate model $150,000 for a story about an alleged encounter between her and Trump. The Inquirer, which is owned by a personal friend of Trump, never published the story.

In a brief statement to the Journal, the White House called the allegations of a sexual relationship between Trump and Clifford "old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election." It did not respond to questions about the alleged hush money.

In 2009, a "Draft Stormy" campaign was launched to convince Clifford to run for the Senate in Louisiana against then-Sen. David Vitter. Clifford publicly considered it, forming an exploratory committee, going on listening tours throughout the state and announcing that if she did run, she'd run as a Republican. However, she ultimately decided not to enter the race, saying in a statement that "I can’t afford it."