Editor's Note: This interview includes discussion of rape and sexual assault that some readers may find disturbing or offensive.
Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who claims she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006, published a new memoir this week in which she details her side of the ongoing legal saga involving the president.
Trump denies her claims, but he did authorize a payment of $130,000 to Daniels just a month before the 2016 election so that she would stay quiet. Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law in making that payment.
But Daniels (@StormyDaniels), whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, tells Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson that her new book "Full Disclosure" is about much more than the night she says she had sex with Trump. The book recounts her journey from an unforgiving childhood in Louisiana to fame and success in the adult entertainment industry.
"I don't want to be defined by one single evening with someone that I met and just thought it was going to be a crazy night with a goofy TV star," Daniels says. "The most important thing that I wanted to get across is that, I was established in my industry as a writer and director and a feature dancer.
"I had this completely different life."
- Scroll down to read an excerpt from "Full Disclosure"
On why she wanted to write her memoir
"I have been in the adult business and a touring feature dancer across the country for — I'm going to give away my age here — about 20 years, and I have all these crazy stories from the road, and I started writing them in journals years ago. And I enjoy writing, I've written a bunch of scripts and stuff like that. So I always had this idea to write a book, like a collection of short stories and funny things that happened on the road, because you won't believe some of the things that have happened.
"I don't want to be defined by one single evening with someone that I met and just thought it was going to be a crazy night with a goofy TV star."Stormy Daniels, on her alleged affair with Trump
"So I already had a lot of it done, and I didn't really have any intention of doing it till I was completely done, because I was always afraid, 'Oh, if I release a book, the most epic thing ever is going to happen, and I'll be like, "Darn it, why didn't I put that in my book." ' But then when this story broke back in January and people were speaking for me, everybody wanted me to write a tell-all. And I was like, 'I really don't want to do that, because that doesn't define me.' Of course, everybody knows about that epic 90 seconds back in 2006 with Trump, and I was like, 'I just don't want to write a tell-all, because it would be a very, very short book.' But then, I really didn't have an outlet to tell my side of the story. Obviously, I went on '60 Minutes' and hoped to do that, and the interview was over three hours, but once it was edited down, it was only 14 minutes, and some of the really key things that I wanted to express got cut out. Everybody knows what happened, but nobody really knew how or why."
On feeling like people haven't gotten a full picture of who she is
"Correct, and like I said, how things transpired and why they happened the way they did and the way things unfolded. So, I just rushed the book, and obviously ... it was just my way of having complete control. Although, I'm still sure that people are just going to jump straight to chapter three [to read about Trump] and not read the rest of it anyway."
On what she wants people to know about her and her life
"I don't want to be defined by one single evening with someone that I met and just thought it was going to be a crazy night with a goofy TV star. Obviously, I had no inclination, as didn't anyone else, that he was going to be a politician, much less, you know, the president. That's crazy. I just started the book with the background, because I kind of wanted everyone to get a feeling for where I came from.
"But I think that the most important thing that I wanted to get across is that, I was established in my industry as a writer and director and a feature dancer. I had this completely different life — although in its own right, very extraordinary. And so I just wanted people to know that there's a lot more to me than just that night [with Trump]. And I have a lot of really funny, great stories, and a lot of them are in the book. Some of them had to get cut out, because it was a rush job, and hopefully one day I'll actually get to release the full [version], or maybe a part two of the really funny things that have happened along the way."
On her experience remembering things that happened to her as a child, including being raped at age 9, while working on the book
"Some of it was a lot of fun, like going through scrapbooks and things, because the publisher wanted to see pictures and stuff like that, which ultimately, because of how quickly we got the book out, they weren't able to use.
"And then a lot of it was also very difficult. I was flipping through the book last night, for the first time I actually looked at it in its hard copy, and was like, 'Oh no, I'm going to need to send some text messages to some people,' because now I'm afraid that some people are going to be really upset or whatever. But I just was like, 'If I'm going to do this, I'm just going to lay it all out.' Some of it was really painful. It was the first time that I talked about a lot of that stuff, and ... I did an interview a couple of days ago, and it was the first interview since someone actually had read the book, and they opened with, 'So, what was it like being raped?' And I was like, 'Oh, my God, that was like the first time I've ever heard that repeated back to me.' I got completely caught off guard and forgot what I was saying for a second. So yeah, it's been ... you know what, ask me that question in a couple weeks. It's only been 24 hours."
On growing up in Louisiana with people who have become Trump supporters
"It's kind of hard, because I haven't been back and talked to people who are still there. I'm very estranged from my mother, as everybody knows. But somehow, a reporter found her and interviewed her, and apparently she's a huge Trump supporter. I was like, 'I can't even believe that ... I came from there, because I'm such a different person now.'
"But I do know that I believe he's let a lot of those people down, and I'm surprised over the last six months — just the last six months, when I first started feature dancing and doing appearances after the story broke ... my fans were still there. Obviously, the anti-Trump people were coming to support me, even though that wasn't my intention. But his fans were still there, and over the course of six months, I've seen less and less Trump supporters, and had people come in and tell me, 'Oh, well ... at first I didn't believe you,' or, 'I hated you, but he's broken a lot of the promises,' and this and that, and, 'We really appreciate you standing up, and you're a hero.' And I'm like, 'I'm not a hero.' I haven't saved anyone's life. I just started talking because I was bullied and uncomfortable with people speaking for me, and my intention was to save my own butt, not everyone else's."
"I think that it's going to be very interesting. Like I said, I've watched everything turn. I'm still not ... I don't want to jinx anything. So I'm just going to wait and see."Stormy Daniels, on the 2018 midterm elections
On her intention now
"To try to promote the book a bit so that people read the story and understand where I'm coming from and that I'm not a liar. I didn't blackmail anyone. I didn't extort anyone. I was not paid for that night [with Trump]. I didn't ask for any money. And most importantly, I want the [nondisclosure agreement] not just considered void, but I want them to admit that it was illegal and that I was bullied."
On whether she wants Trump's presidency to end
"That's not really my place to decide. I will say that I want him to be held accountable ... if the other allegations from other women and things like that are true, then he should be held accountable and face justice, just like a normal citizen. I think that it's not fair for a president or someone in power to be held to a different standard. So I think that he should be investigated, and people should hear the full story about everything — full disclosure — and ... face the jury, basically. And if they find him guilty, then so be it. And if not, so be it. But justice needs to be served one way or another."
On what might happen to Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer
"I think we're all about to find out [at Cohen's sentencing hearing] on, what is it, Dec. 12? He was kind of the orchestrator of this, and the one who most importantly — and if you read the book, you'll understand what I'm saying — he's the one that blew it. I was totally fine with saying nothing at all. I was actually thrilled. And then he's the one who started yapping. He broke the nondisclosure way before I did, and then when he realized he had messed up, he just continued to do so.
"I think he's going to get what he deserves. But on the other side of that, I also am starting to have a little bit of admiration or respect that he did finally come clean and admit ... the moment that I got the call, I was actually overseas in Europe, when I got the call that he admitted that I was telling the truth. [That] was a huge moment for me, because I'm used to being called all kinds of names — I have a pretty thick skin being in the adult entertainment business, all the derogatory terms you can call me, I'm like, 'Yeah, yeah, whatever' — but being called a liar was really hard, because I knew I was telling the truth."
On what made her decide come forward about her alleged affair with Trump
"Like I said, I was fine with saying nothing at all. If I wasn't, I would have never signed a nondisclosure. I'm not stupid. And if I was going to do that, I would have asked for a lot more than $130,000. Once again — I'm not stupid. I just wanted it to go away. I didn't want it to affect my family or my young child. I had a pretty successful career, I'd moved behind the camera and was starting to be really known and respected as a director, I'd directed some mainstream things, some music videos, lived in a small town in Texas, was very happy with, I'm doing air quotes, normal friends. So this was the last thing that I wanted to come out. So when I signed the nondisclosure, I was pretty excited, actually. I was like, 'OK, this is going to be great.'
"But then somehow it got leaked, and Michael Cohen started running his mouth, and then they wanted me to sign additional statements that were completely false. I was fine with saying nothing, but I didn't want to lie. In the meantime, the story was exploding everywhere and people were attacking me left and right and calling me names. I just wanted to set the record straight. When I was bullied for the last time in the hotel room, I was like, 'This is effed up. That's it. Enough.' And so I just wanted to be able to tell my side of the story so people would understand where I was coming from, and at the same time all these other women were coming forward, and I just felt one day that it was the right thing to do. So I did it."
On traveling with bodyguards
"It was very overwhelming at first. I was used to being able to travel alone. I was used to go to the bathroom alone. That's gone. I can't walk into a room first, if I leave my hotel and come back, they have to check the room, and it's sort of intimidating to see somebody go into a hotel room every time you walk in and look under the bed and in the bathtub and behind all the doors. It kind of makes you realize how real it is. And just not having any privacy. But over the last several months, I've adapted, I've gotten used to it and we've become friends, and it's just the way that it is."
On how she would describe Trump today
"I don't know. I mean, I haven't talked to him in 12 years. I think that he is a different person. At least the night I hung out with him, he could make complete sentences."
On the midterm elections
"I think that it's going to be very interesting. Like I said, I've watched everything turn. I'm still not ... I don't want to jinx anything. So I'm just going to wait and see."
On not coming forward with her allegation prior to the 2016 election
"I really held steadfast to the belief that [Trump] wasn't going to win, as most people did. I think even now years later, some people are still scratching their head, going, 'What happened?' So I didn't think it was a thing. So why subject myself and expose myself and my family and just start all these issues if it wasn't going to happen?
"In all honesty, I don't think if I'd come forward beforehand, it would have made a difference. Because it still doesn't make a difference that, 12 years ago, a man and a woman had consensual sex in a hotel room. It doesn't matter at all. Like, at all. The thing that affects the presidency is that he lied in the campaign finance, and the bullying. That's the real issue.
"People send me messages all the time saying, 'Oh, why do you think anyone cares, you just want attention. It doesn't matter what someone does behind closed doors.' I'm like, 'Yes, yes I agree with you.' Everybody is so stuck on the details of that night. But in all honesty, they have no bearing whatsoever, nor should they. It's all the stuff that happened around the election that's important."
On what she thinks of Trump mocking Christine Blasey Ford at a campaign rally
"That he sounds like a petulant child. That's what he does. He attacks people and tears down their character. I'm not defending or, you know, negating what was said or anything like that. It's not my place, nor do I have any inside knowledge, so I would rather not comment. But I do know that he lashes out, and that's not very becoming of a leader."
On what she hopes people take away from reading her book
"That things aren't always what they seem, and there's more than one side to every story. And I'm not a liar, and I didn't blackmail anyone, and that I am human, and maybe it will open their eyes to other girls who have been in the adult business, or sex workers, if you will — that's also like a whole [other] side of this that I think is important — that we do have a voice. And I hope that most importantly, the No. 1 thing that I want to take away from this, is that it inspires other people who need to speak up for themselves, to do so."
Editor's Note: The book excerpt below contains some explicit language.
Book Excerpt: 'Full Disclosure'
by Stormy Daniels
From the moment I first met her, I knew Stormy Daniels was different. I’ve had the good fortune to meet a lot of people along the way from different walks of life—janitors, construction workers, hard-working blue-collar workers, middle managers, executives, working moms, homemakers, and CEOs. From people who were broke and down on their luck to billionaires who will never want for anything. But I’ve never met anyone quite like Stormy Daniels.
What makes Stormy Daniels so unique—and so prepared for the important role she has undertaken—is that she always owns who she is. She is entirely confident in her own skin— every day. She doesn’t try to pretend to be something she isn’t. Not even when sometimes I wish she would (see her Twitter account). In a day and age where image is everything and everyone is vying for that perfect Instagram pic or the ideal tweet, Stormy is . . . herself.
That is very refreshing. And it is something to be cherished.
Her journey so far has been an amazing one. And we don’t know yet where it ends. My hope for this book is that it will let you learn who Stormy Daniels really is. I am confident that when you do, you will agree that we are all very lucky to have her.
—Michael Avenatti, Esq.
When Miss Cathy gave me Perfect Jade’s papers, I knew it was meant to be. We had the same St. Patrick’s Day birthday, though she was two years older. She was an ex-racehorse, and because she was a Thoroughbred, her papers listed her bloodlines. Her grandfather was Bold Ruler, an American Thoroughbred Hall of Fame racehorse who was named 1957 Horse of the Year. His broodmare grandmother, Primonetta, was one of the top fillies in American racing in 1961, and when she died of a heart attack just shy of thirty-five years old in 1993, she was the third-longest lived filly known to horse racing. Jade’s bloodlines were so good, I am sure they probably tried to breed her at some point and it just didn’t take.
But looking at her when I met her, you would never know she came from glory. She had this pencil-thin neck with a mane that was so long. She had patches of hair missing from fungus, and what hair she did have was sun-bleached.
Now I had a horse, but I didn’t own anything for a horse. I didn’t have a saddle or bridle, but I couldn’t put a saddle on her anyway because she was so skinny. With no padding, it would have just rubbed blisters on her. I had to fatten her up first, but I didn’t mind because I just wanted to be near horses, period. I became obsessed with her, leading her up and down the road like a dog to get her strength up.
I loved her, but man she was mean. She would chase me out, snapping her teeth at me. If I went to pick up her back feet, she’d poop on me. I know that fucking bitch was doing it on purpose. Every time I’d turn my back she would bite the shit out of me and break skin.
One time I was feeding her and she bit me so hard, I had enough. I grabbed her ear and I bit her back. “You see?” I screamed through tears. “That hurts!”
It was a come-to-Jesus moment for us. After that, she never hurt me again.
I knew I’d lose Jade if I couldn’t afford to board her, so I started working at Farr Park, whether it was teaching kids at their summer horse camp or doing secretarial work in the office. I did anything to keep Jade with me.
I began taking lessons with a trainer, Nancy Burba, and I worked off the payment by exercising her horses. On the weekends, we started doing horse shows. At one point, somebody offered me fifteen thousand dollars for Jade. That kind of money would have been life changing, but I didn’t think about it for even a second. “She’s not for sale,” I said. Besides, Jade wouldn’t let anyone else ride her, and she wouldn’t perform for anyone else, either.
Never once did I fall off of that horse. Not one single time, which is a miracle, because it’s just a fact that you come off your horses. Whether they dump you or they spook, you come off. It’s not if you get hurt, it’s when. And how bad.
She protected me, too. We were out galloping one day, riding through a neighborhood the city was starting to develop. It had been a while since I’d ridden back there, so I didn’t know that they had dug huge drainage canals, about twenty feet across. The grass had gotten tall, so we were going full speed and I didn’t see the new canal until two strides out. I felt Jade see it and I could tell she was thinking, Fuck it, I won’t be able to stop. She leapt into the air, clearing the twenty-foot jump.
I was so scared that when I got to the other side, I got down from Jade. “Oh, my God,” I said, walking in a circle, kicking out my legs, which one second ago I was sure would be broken. “Oh, my God.” Jade nuzzled me and I looked her in the eye.
“Good job,” I said.
People who knew Jade’s history told me I saved that horse, but she saved me. Since I hated being home, if I hadn’t had the barn to go I would have just hung around my little crack neighborhood, smoking and drinking with the other kids my age. I was too busy going to horse shows on the weekends to spend time at the mall flirting with boys. I would see yet another girl who lived around me suddenly pregnant and say to myself silently, Can’t ride a horse if you’re pregnant.
There were subtle signs, then an avalanche. Around the time I moved in with Andy, I noticed that Jade seemed a little more timid about jumps.
By then, we’d had each other seven years, so we could read each other. I became much more concerned in February, when she started a rapid decline. She had consistent diarrhea and seemed increasingly listless. I led her over to Dr. Dan at the veterinary office where I worked. He had always done checkups and let me work off the payments in the office, or simply didn’t charge us. He did a full workup on her and even tested her for toxins to make sure she hadn’t been poisoned. He wondered if maybe she had a heart murmur, and we took a wait-and-see approach.
Then she deteriorated quickly, and by the first week of March she was wasting away. Her hair became dull and she resembled the poor, pathetic horse she had been when I first got her. I knew she had been through a lot of abuse before I had her, but she was only twenty. The average lifespan of a horse is about twenty eight, plus or minus a few years. But she had rapidly gone from doing these huge jumps to looking like she was near death.
The last day I rode her, I knew it was the end. Spring had come and an early run of warm weather had coaxed out all the yellow butterweeds and buttercups along the trail. That day with Jade there was a sudden cold snap, so it was surreal for it to be so cold yet still have wildflowers all over. I put Jade’s blanket on her to ride her—she was too thin to saddle her up, and this would keep her warm. We did a trail ride and I told her I loved her. I knew what I had to do, and afterward, I went to Dr. Dan.
“It’s not fair to her,” I told Dr. Dan. “She’s so miserable.” “I know,” he said. “I agree.”
We decided to put her down, and the only time they could schedule it for was March 17, our shared birthday. I wanted to be there for it. I knew this would be bad. If you are picturing it like the gentle passing of a dog, nestled in a blanket, you’re wrong. Horses don’t curl up and die after they get a lethal injection. Their reaction is pretty violent, with the horse collapsing and sometimes rearing back.
All the vets came in to support us. I didn’t cry much because I had already said good-bye on the trail. They let me braid her forelock so they could give it to me after, and I talked to her as I separated and twisted the hair. I told her not to be scared.
And then she was gone.
They pulled her shoes to give me, everyone tearing up. They never sent me a bill or expected anything from me for the care and kindness.
Because this was a veterinary school, I knew they were going to examine the body to learn what went wrong. A couple of weeks later I was at the barn, still working just to be around horses, when a few of the vets came over to me, seeming shell-shocked.
“Jade had been operating on one valve of her heart,” one told me.
“It had been dead for so long that her heart was a different color,” said the other. “We don’t understand how she was walking, much less jumping.” He went on to explain that what caused the sudden deterioration was that she stopped absorbing food from scarring in her stomach after years of parasites. She was just destroyed on the inside.
Jade came into my life when I needed her, and she left when I needed her to leave. I had an apartment and plans for school. I couldn’t afford her anymore, and at eighteen, I couldn’t be tethered to a horse. I had to move on, and she let me. I’ve had so many horses since Jade, but she was the best I ever had.
From FULL DISCLOSURE by Stormy Daniels. Copyright ©2018 by the author and Note copyright ©2018 by Michael Avenatti, Esq. and reprinted with permission of St. Martin's Press, LLC.
This segment aired on October 4, 2018.
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