Doesn’t it seem a little weird that President Trump hasn’t tweeted about Stormy Daniels? Does he really have nothing to say? I can practically hear Trump pacing around the Oval Office, screaming about how this good-for-nothing-porn-star is being “so unfair” to him. Given the nonexistent self-control Trump has exercised with respect to Twitter thus far, it seems odd that the alleged sordid affair and subsequent hush-money with a porn star is the thing that finally quells his tweetaholism. Whatever the reason, Trump has gone Stormy-silent. Here are some reasons that may have contributed to the president’s conspicuously-absent tweetsults:
- The Trump legal team is gearing up for a fight with CBS, and they’re trying not to make any sudden movements before the papers are filed.
This week, everyone’s talking about Trump’s planned legal action against CBS to prevent it from airing the 60 Minutes interview between Anderson Cooper and Stormy Daniels. If Trump’s team really is planning on running to court and getting a restraining order against CBS to stop it from airing the interview, then things between Trump and Stormy are a bit delicate right now. By “delicate,” I mean “Trump’s lawyers know damn well that they have almost no chance of getting an injunction against CBS, and they’re not risking being laughed out of the courtroom by allowing their client to turn the whole thing into a bigger circus.” Trump’s lawyers are probably prepping their First Amendment research and practicing arguing about the “irreparable harm” that would befall their client if Stormy were allowed to hit the small screen alongside Anderson Cooper. A Trump tweet naming Stormy Daniels could throw a serious wrench into their strategy. If the judge were able to point to a tweet and ask, “so, counsel, are you saying that your client is free to say whatever he wishes about Ms. Clifford, but that she cannot tell her side of the story?” it definitely wouldn’t go well for Trump. I mean if you’re going to court to try and silence someone, it doesn’t look good if you’re out there yapping about that very person. I would love to know how Trump’s legal team actually wrangled him into obeying what must have been their very stern advice here. My guess is that it involved pictures and the strategic use of cheeseburgers.
- Someone finally told Trump what “defamation” means, and he knows Stormy won’t hesitate to sue him for it.
As an unfettered braggart, Trump has often demonstrated difficulty with understanding the concept of consequences. As a career bully, though, he has learned that often, he can mitigate potential fallout with aggression backed by teams of lawyers and buckets of money. As a result, objectified women coming forward with lawsuits against Trump is a relatively new phenomenon. More often, he is the one to threaten defamation lawsuits. For better or for worse, Stormy Daniels has stepped forward as a plaintiff against Donald Trump; she isn’t just any plaintiff, either. She is a plaintiff who is seeking a declaratory judgment – a/k/a, not money damages. Whatever you may think about Stormy, one thing is for certain – she doesn’t seem particularly afraid. Taking aim a sitting president in a lawsuit is a pretty a ballsy move for anyone. If his past public statements are any indication, Trump thinks a person commits defamation when that person says anything negative about another. Following that logic, he may understand that nasty-tweeting Stormy Daniels could be deemed defamatory; given that she’s already got a lawsuit going against him, it wouldn’t take much for her to add on a defamation claim. Even if Trump believes himself to be holding the legal high ground with respect to Daniels, he knows that she’s not afraid to sue and speak out. An additional battle over defamation may be one for which POTUS simply isn’t game.
- Tweeting about Stormy could seriously derail Trump’s defense in the existing lawsuit with her.
If Trump were to tweet about his past with (or without) Stormy Daniels, there’s a serious chance that those tweets would undermine his position in Daniels’ lawsuit for declaratory relief. In Stormy’s lawsuit, she is requesting that the court declare the non-disclosure agreement (“NDA”) between herself and Michael Cohen/David Dennison/Donald Trump null and void. One of her arguments is that the contract simply never formed, because Trump never signed it. Trump’s best argument here is that the NDA did form, and that it should be enforced against Daniels to keep her quiet. Here’s the problem: if Trump publicly denies a relationship with Daniels, that denial could be used as evidence that a contract did not, in fact, form between the two. He will not be able to have it both ways. He can’t deny the entire affair and then confirm the contract based on that affair at the same time. I mean someone might be able to work out those nuances, but I’m guessing that someone isn’t Trump. His team may have simply said, “Sir, it’s a legalese loophole kinda thing, so for now, just don’t tweet about her until we settle everything,” and that likely would have sufficed.
- Stormy is telling the truth, and Trump knows it.
Of course, in addition to the strategic legal reasons that may have silenced Trump, there’s also Ockham’s razor to consider; so often, the simplest explanation is the best explanation. Trump may actually remember that he had an affair with this woman, and feel uncomfortable about tweeting otherwise. Unlike the many women who have accused Trump of improper sexual conduct, Stormy Daniels has reported a consensual affair; if her account is true, there would have been no reason for Trump to have minimized his own recollection of the details. Trump loves to call out “fake news,” but when there’s nothing but truth, he often has nothing to say.
[Editor’s note: This piece has been updated.]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.