What Did Trump's Secret Payoff To Stormy Cost Him? Just $1.60 Per Vote

Stormy Daniels

Stormy Daniels, a.k.a. Stephanie Clifford

This is one of the many columns I have written about Trump’s perfidy and crimes. To help out, please become a paid subscriber.

On October 7, 2016, Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency got hit with the publication of the Access Hollywood tapes by the Washington Post. On the tape, Trump bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy.” Trump’s support among evangelical Republican voters had been surprisingly strong until that time. His campaign began worrying that his evangelical support might slip.

The next day, Stormy Daniels’ attorney, Keith Davidson, informed Dylan Howard, the editor of the National Enquirer, that she was willing to sell the story of her affair with Donald Trump to the magazine. Howard picked up the phone and called Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, and told him to call Davidson.

Stormy Daniels, an adult film star who had had sex with Trump while his wife was pregnant with their child, was threatening to quadruple the threat to Trump’s hold on the evangelical vote.

Cohen sprang into action, quickly negotiating a deal with Daniels to pay her $130,000 for the rights to her story and a non-disclosure agreement, essentially buying the right to bury the tale about her affair with Trump. He filed paperwork to form a firm known as Essential Consultants LLC to handle the Daniels payoff.

On October 26, Cohen opened a bank account for Essential Consultants and transferred $131,000 from a home equity loan in his name into the account. The next day, Cohen wired $130,000 into an account held by Davidson, Daniels’ attorney.

On November 1, Cohen received the agreement he had negotiated with Daniels buying her silence, signed by “David Dennison” and “Peggy Peterson,” names that would be revealed to be pseudonyms for Trump and Daniels. Trump would later reimburse Cohen for the $130,000 that had come out of his home equity loan with several checks on his private bank account with Capitol One Bank.

One of the checks Donald Trump wrote to Michael Cohen to reimburse the Daniels payoff

By October of 2016, Hillary Clinton was ahead in the polls. Nearly every pundit in the country was predicting she would win. But on October 28, the day after Michael Cohen had paid off Stormy Daniels for her silence, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress announcing that he was reopening the FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails. Hillary’s polls went down. Trump’s went up.

Comey would not announce that he had closed his second investigation into Clinton’s emails until November 6, two days before the election.

With his hold on the evangelical vote secure, Trump won the election on November 8, 2016, by 304 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 227. But his victory was much narrower than it looks. He won the state of Michigan’s 16 electors by 10,704 votes. He won Pennsylvania by 67,416. He won Wisconsin by 22,177. Without the electoral votes of those states, Trump would have lost the election, 258 electoral votes to Clinton’s 273. Trump won the election carrying those three states by about 80,000 votes, an incredibly thin margin in an election where 137.5 million Americans cast votes.

Donald Trump’s payoff to Stormy Daniels had bought him the presidency. It was the best $130,000 he ever spent, working out to about $1.60 for each of the 80,000 votes in the three states that carried the election for him. He may face indictment next week for the $130,000 dollar payoff to Stormy Daniels, but he won the presidency and did incalculable damage to the United States during his four years in office.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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