“I actually don’t even know why I did it,” porn star Stormy Daniels once reflected of the “textbook generic” sex she claimed to have had with Donald Trump after some cursed-sounding Nevada golf tournament. “But I do remember while we were having sex I was like: ‘Please don’t try to pay me.’”
Well, quite. If ONLY Trump had stuck to the non-payment he presumably agreed in the heat of passion in that Lake Tahoe hotel room in 2006, instead of allegedly getting his lawyer to hand hush money to Daniels when he was running for president a decade later. He is now facing an estimated 34 charges of falsification of business records, believed to relate to payments to both Stormy and the former Playboy model Karen McDougal. As the former president once observed, vaginas are “potential landmines … There’s some real danger there.”
By way of clarity, the specific former president to whom I just referred is Trump, and not, say, Abraham Lincoln or Calvin Coolidge, whose views on the deadly peril of female genitalia are not recorded. But it’s remarkable that after all the hardcore and extreme political and financial stuff Trump pulled in office and beyond, it’s the fallout from an alleged textbook generic shag that’s left him most exposed. To adapt the calcified cliche about Al Capone, they’re trying to get him on sex evasion. It remains highly unclear that they’ll succeed, and even less likely that jail time would be served – though Donald can hardly claim orange isn’t his colour.
For many, of course, it will be very exciting to see Trump winning votes again, albeit from the majority of a Manhattan grand jury. According to reports, his surrender to the authorities is expected on Tuesday. Once in custody, Trump will get the chance to pucker his anus-like mouth for the cameras taking his mugshot, then to offer his tiny fingers for prints. This process will be followed by a court appearance for his arraignment.
But that’s next week. Yesterday, the squire of Mar-a-Lago barrelled off the golf course, where he had been accompanied by a young female aide who apparently drives a golf cart specially equipped with a computer so she can show him positive stories about himself even on the course. That wasn’t possible during Thursday’s nine holes, alas, and Trump swerved the clubhouse to post on his Truth Social network. “These Thugs and Radical Left Monsters have just INDICATED the 45th President of the United States of America”, ran this statement, which you should obviously take with a cup of cold [sic]. He becomes the first US president to be indicted and face criminal charges, an accolade to take its place in his trophy cabinet alongside being the first US president to be impeached twice, and indeed the first US president to incite an insurrection. Firstwise, he’s the GOAT. Lincoln and Coolidge could never.
I think this is the point at which I am supposed to type that Trump has always denied having sex with Stormy Daniels, despite the matter of this six-figure payment to her. He also denies any wrongdoing in relation to the charges. Taking him at his word (!), you have to wonder how far he’d go to bury something he did actually do, if that’s what he’d pay for something he didn’t.
As so often with Trump, the details are terrible and shameful and another nail in the coffin of American democracy – but unfortunately also funny. Take his alleged post-coital activities with Stormy, which should have consisted of Trump writing his future self a note – “very Important that I remember not to pay the person I have just given the best sex of her life to, or I will be INDICATED”.
Instead, according to her account, he made her watch some Shark Week content on Discovery, about which Trump became extremely exercised. He wished all sharks would die, he told her, adding definitively that he would “never donate to any charity that helps sharks”. I guess we have to observe that sharks come in many forms. Sharks are landmines.
Meanwhile, Daniels herself is serially funny. “He told me once that I was someone to be reckoned with,” she once recalled drily. “Beautiful, smart, just like his daughter.” Ooooof. Stormy says her thought on exiting the bathroom just before sex with Trump was, “Ugh, here we go.” And here we are still going, a full 17 years later.
Even so, and even with Trump finally facing criminal charges, it is unfortunately difficult to shake the sense that it is still his world, and that we just live in it. He may not have finished the wall, but he certainly fashioned the rabbit hole down which we all plunged a few years ago, with no obviously imminent prospect of escape. We still live in that looking-glass place where we can regrettably see why Trump actually wants to be handcuffed for his now-pending court appearance, and to get a proper perp walk in front of the cameras.
We know from experience that up can be down, bad can be good, and that a president being indicted is going to require a mass mobilisation of the Manhattan police force, lest countless other crimes be committed by his incensed supporters. If objective truth is recoverable, we are not a whole lot closer to working out how than we were when Trump left office. Until we do, for a still very significant number of people, “indicated” is closer to “vindicated” than “indicted”.
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