While there are problems (which we’ll come to) with Rudy’s legalistic defense, Trump’s tweets go much further, appearing both to deny the sexual encounter and to threaten Clifford with robust enforcement of the NDA – a heavy-handed arrangement in which, in exchange for the $130K, she faces millions of dollars in penalties each time she spills the beans.
This seems crazy to me. No one believes the “affair” didn’t happen. And, because everyone knows who Trump is, no one much cared about it . . . until now. Now there will be wall-to-wall coverage to prove it happened, including coverage of Trump’s flings and interactions with women over the years (some of which are alleged to involve unwanted advances), until he admits it. If he does, he will look terrible for inducing Stormy to sign a false denial letter and for relying on it. In the meantime, he will look terrible for appearing to threaten Stormy with the punitive NDA damages, which will lend credibility to her thus far uncorroborated claim that, in 2011, an unidentified man threatened that she would be killed if she did not keep quiet. And the cherry on top: Trump’s tweet calls renewed attention to the NDA. While such agreements may be “very common” as Trump says, how “very common” is it to do them under silly pseudonyms instead of the parties’ real names? That question, as night follows day, will lead to more media discussion of the fact that Cohen used the very same pseudonyms in yet another hush-money arrangement with a major GOP donor and Trump supporter.
Since the team obviously decided it was worth risking this political fallout to get their defense on the campaign-finance claim out there, we must ask: How good is the defense?