One of the best ways to tell what's on the president's mind is to simply take a peek at his Twitter account. When a given scandal flares up, his tweets also show how well he's handling the heat. A quick look back at some of Donald Trump's tweets suggest Stormy Daniels is becoming an increasing source of frustration for him as their scandal drags on.
Daniels, an adult film start whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, has said she was paid $130,000 by Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, to keep quiet about an alleged extramarital affair she had with Trump in 2006. She's now suing Trump for the right to speak publicly about their alleged relationship and get out of the non-disclosure agreement she signed with Cohen.
Although Trump recently spoke publicly about Daniels for the very first time, he's never tweeted directly about the film star or the lawsuit she brought against him. In January, when The Wall Street Journal first reported on claims that Trump's lawyer had paid an adult film star to keep quiet about her alleged decade-old affair with the president, Washington was on the verge of a government shutdown. As a result, much of Trump's energy on Twitter was spent tearing into Democrats for that looming shutdown.
The morning after Daniels appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes, however, Trump took to Twitter to complain about the pervasiveness of what he likes to call "fake news." "So much Fake News," Trump tweeted at the time. "Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate. But through it all, our country is doing great!"
The tweet was vague enough that it could be referring to any number of negative stories about Trump, which would be in line with the White House's reported strategy for dealing with Daniels. “He’s really not in a punch-back mode,” an anonymous friend of Trump's told The Washington Post at the time. “Everyone is telling him, look, you can’t win here, so just do nothing.”
Less than a week after posting that tweet, Trump made his first, and so far only, public comments about the Daniels scandal while speaking briefly to reporters aboard Air Force One. With a simple "no," Trump denied having been aware of Cohen's payment to Daniels. He also said he did "not know" where his attorney had gotten the money. "You'll have to ask Michael," the president said when asked why Cohen had made the payment.
Although Trump seemed calm while speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on April 5, he showed significantly less chill a few days later, when FBI agents raided Cohen's office. According to The New Yorker, FBI agents seized a number of documents, including some related to the Stormy Daniels payment, during their raid. The president attempted to characterize that as a break-in.
"So, I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man," Trump told reporters on April 9, as quoted by The New Yorker. "It's a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt."
To be fair, what Daniels has accused Trump of doing — having a consensual extramarital affair and then paying her to keep it quiet — is far from the worst allegation levied against him. He's been accused of touching a woman's genitals over her underwear while in a Manhattan nightclub and boasting about using his fame to kiss and grope women without their consent, for example. The president has vehemently denied all accusations of sexual misconduct.
But at least in regards to Daniels' allegations of being paid "hush money," a pattern appears to be unfolding. Recent reports allege the National Enquirer employed a "catch and kill" policy to assist the Trump campaign in keeping negative or potentially harmful stories out of the public eye.
American Media Inc., the publisher behind the Enquirer, also reportedly paid large chunks of cash to a former Trump Tower doorman and an ex-Playboy model to prevent them from taking their stories to other media outlets. According to the New Yorker, AMI CEO David Pecker counts the president as a "personal friend." It remains to be seen whether the latest Trump rumor allegedly buried by the tabloid will spark a similarly vague mini-tweetstorm from the president.