NEW YORK (AP) â€” When he was Donald Trumpâ€™s attorney, Michael Cohen was hellbent on silencing Stormy Daniels, even arranging a hush-money payment to the porn actress that landed him in federal prison.
Now, as one of many of the former presidentâ€™s insiders-turned-critics, Cohen is literally broadcasting Danielsâ€™ story â€” including intimate new details of her alleged sexual encounter with Trump â€” in a discussion ranging from shame and scandal to a haunted house in New Orleans.
Seeking to bury the hatchet, Cohen interviews Daniels in the latest episode of his podcast, â€œMea Culpa,â€ in which the two commiserate over life-altering experiences with Trump and his recent departure from office.
â€œMy battle is just now starting,â€ Daniels tells Cohen in their first ever conversation, referring to litigation she said had been in a holding pattern before Trump left office. â€œPeople are really upset, and theyâ€™re just going to get more pissed off at me.â€
Cohen, in keeping with the title of his program, apologizes for â€œthe needless painâ€ he put Daniels through when he arranged a $130,000 payment during the 2016 presidential campaign to keep her quiet about an alleged dalliance with Trump a decade earlier. Trump has denied the affair.
â€œBoth of our stories will be forever linked with Donald Trump, but also with one another,â€ Cohen tells her. â€œThanks for giving me a second chance.â€
The scandal turned Stormy Daniels into a household name, and critics accused her of capitalizing on her newfound fame, including crisscrossing the country on a â€œMake America Horny Againâ€ strip tour.
Federal prosecutors charged Cohen with skirting campaign contribution rules by arranging the hush-money payment to Daniels and a similar payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal. He pleaded guilty to those counts â€” as well as lying to Congress and tax evasion â€” and was sentenced to three years in federal prison.
Cohen has been producing his podcast from his Manhattan apartment, where he is serving the remainder of his sentence after he was released for a second time in July as part of an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 in federal prisons. The podcast is distributed by LiveXLiveâ€™s PodcastOne and produced by Audio Up.
Cohen and Daniels are united not only in infamy but deep regret over Trump. Despite the publicity boom â€” a windfall that included a bestselling book â€” Daniels said she longs for life before her allegations launched her into the zeitgeist.
â€œI got to go places I would never get to go,â€ she tells Cohen. â€œBut overall, if I could just wave a magic wand and make everything go back to the way it was before, I would absolutely do that.â€
Daniels said the waning weeks of Trumpâ€™s presidency felt like the â€œeye of the storm.â€ The death threats â€” and headlines â€” had subsided as she remained in a sort of legal limbo.
But now sheâ€™s braced for a â€œsecond waveâ€ of controversy, including a defamation lawsuit she brought against Trump that she has taken all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Daniels sued Trump for defamation after the then-president commented on Twitter that a man she said had threatened her was â€œnonexistent.â€ She appealed a lower courtâ€™s decision to dismiss the case and an order to pay Trump nearly $300,000 in attorneysâ€™ fees.
The lawsuit is among a minefield of legal issues Trump faces after leaving the White House, including state investigations in New York of his business dealings.
â€œIâ€™ve already lost everything,â€ she said, referring to her prior way of life, â€œso Iâ€™m taking it all the way.â€
Daniels also remains a witness in a federal criminal case against her own former attorney, Michael Avenatti, who is charged with cheating her out of $300,000 in proceeds from her 2018 book, â€œFull Disclosure.â€ Avenatti has pleaded not guilty.
The hourlong interview also includes graphic descriptions of Danielsâ€™ 2006 sexual encounter with Trump â€” details she said supports the veracity of her claims. She calls the encounter â€œthe worst 90 seconds of my life, for sure, because it just made me hate myself.â€
While she did not feel â€œphysically threatened,â€ she said she had not expected to have sex with Trump and, at one point, thought about how to escape the room, thinking â€œI could definitely outrun him.â€
She repressed details of the rendezvous for years, she said, adding the dynamics only came into focus after she saw the movie â€œBombshellâ€ about the sexual harassment women underwent in meetings with former Fox News executive Roger Ailes.
â€œI didnâ€™t say anything for years because I didnâ€™t remember,â€ she said.
For Daniels, life after Trump has also included a new passion for ghost hunting and a related show, â€œSpooky Babes,â€ inspired by the â€œextremely hauntedâ€ house that bedeviled her in New Orleansâ€™ Garden District.
â€œIâ€™ve been face to face with evil in the most intimate way,â€ Daniels said. â€œDemons donâ€™t scare me anymore.â€
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