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Stormy Daniels says she's not yet 'vindicated' by Trump's indictment

Stormy Daniels, pictured here at a Los Angeles film premiere in May 2022, sat down with TalkTV's Piers Morgan for her first interview since news broke of Donald Trump's indictment.
Phillip Faraone
Getty Images
Stormy Daniels, pictured here at a Los Angeles film premiere in May 2022, sat down with TalkTV's Piers Morgan for her first interview since news broke of Donald Trump's indictment.

In her first interview since the news of Donald Trump's criminal indictment, Stormy Daniels said she's still seeking a sense of vindication — but admits that feeling just may never come.

The former president pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to 34 counts of falsifying business records. The Manhattan district attorney's office says Trump hid reimbursements for hush money payments as part of a "catch and kill" scheme to suppress affair allegations.

Daniels, the adult film actress behind one set of those allegations, sat down with TalkTV's Piers Morgan for a wide-ranging, 90-minute interview, touching on everything from her strained relationship with her parents to her reaction to the week's news. The conversation aired Thursday on Morgan's show, Uncensored.

Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, said she was riding her horse, aptly named Redemption, when her phone lit up with notifications telling her of Trump's indictment. While initially thrilled to see the case taking steps forward, the next day felt "kind of anti-climactic," she said. "I thought I would feel excited and vindicated."

Seeing Trump convicted would "definitely be a giant step closer in that direction but I don't think it'll ever be 100%" because so many people are "unwilling to admit that they were wrong or that he lies," she said.

Daniels said she's not sure if that would change should Trump receive jail time.

"I don't think that his crimes against me are worthy of incarceration," Daniels said, but later added: "The other things that he has done — if he is found guilty, then absolutely."

Trump is facing separate criminal investigations for allegedly pressuring Georgia to overturn the 2020 election results, interfering with the transfer of power and mishandling classified documents.

Daniels said she was prepared to testify in the Manhattan grand jury probe but was never asked. She said she'd welcome the prospect of testifying if the case goes to trial, which is likely, but not until late winter or spring 2024.

"It's daunting, but I look forward to it," she said. "I have nothing to hide. I'm the only one that has been telling the truth. You can't shame me anymore."

"You can't really shame somebody who's been seen naked everywhere," she added. "Like what are you gonna do? Release nudes of me? Please do."

Daniels was thrust into the political spotlight after The Wall Street Journal broke the story of the hush money payments in 2018.

Trump has consistently denied Daniels' claims they had sex in a Texas hotel in 2006. But he later admitted he reimbursed Cohen for $130,000 in hush money payments.

The Manhattan DA's case rests on the way the Trump organization recorded those payments. Still, Daniels says, the news of Trump's arraignment has only ramped up the frequency and tone of the hate messages she personally receives.

"They really feel like it's my fault — That, you know, I've made America the laughingstock or I'm the fall of democracy. I wish I had that much power," she said, confirming later in the interview that she was still a registered Republican.

Trump and his allies have dismissed the charges as an act of political persecution, saying the DA's office had weaponized its power to weaken the GOP's chances of reclaiming the presidency.

When asked whether she was trying to derail Trump's 2024 presidential campaign, Daniels laughed. "He doesn't need my help for that. He's going to do that on his own," she quipped.

One particular threat against Daniels sits at the heart of another pending legal matter — a failed defamation suit that's left Daniels with a bill for hundreds of thousands in Trump's legal fees.

In Daniels' telling, she hesitantly agreed to sell her story of the affair in In Touch magazine in 2011 because one of the "hundred or so" people she'd told the story to had threatened to tell it first.

Months later, a man approached her in a Las Vegas parking lot and told her to "leave Donald Trump alone."

Daniels' then-lawyer Michael Avenatti released a sketch of the man to the public in 2018, and Trump responded on Twitter, calling it a "con job, playing the Fake News Media."

Avenatti then filed a defamation suit against Daniels' wishes, she says. She eventually lost the case, with the judge ruling that Trump's tweet was political rhetoric protected by the first amendment.

When asked in Thursday's interview if she planned to pay the legal fees as ordered, Daniels said she'd go to jail first.

"I didn't come this far to back down and give him money," she said. "I did nothing wrong but stand up to him and prove that I wasn't lying."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.