Who is Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who is testifying in Trump’s hush money criminal trial?

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Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who is testifying Tuesday in former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York, is a key figure in the controversy over a 2016 “hush money” payment allegedly made to Daniels on Trump’s behalf.

Trump is facing 34 counts of falsifying business documents related to the repayment of his one-time attorney Michael Cohen for payments made shortly before the 2016 election to cover up Trump’s alleged affair with Daniels. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied the affair.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had a one-night stand with Trump in 2006.

The controversy surfaced in January 2018, when the Wall Street Journal reported on the $130,000 payment.

In “Stormy,” a documentary that was released on Peacock in March, Daniels said that she agreed to accept the payment to protect her husband and daughter and so “that there would be a paper trail and money trail linking me to Donald Trump so that he could not have me killed.”

“I was completely sure that I was gonna die,” Daniels said in the documentary.

Prosecutors in New York have alleged that Trump sought to undermine the integrity of the 2016 election by suppressing negative information that would hurt his campaign. According to charging documents, Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.”

A bid by Trump’s attorneys to prevent Daniels and Cohen from taking the stand was denied by Judge Juan Merchan in March, and Daniels has said last year she was “absolutely” willing to do so.

Target of repeated threats

Daniels has been vocal about threats she’s received since her alleged affair with Trump came to light. She told Piers Morgan in an interview last year that threats aimed at her from Trump supporters are now “way more specific and graphic,” and much more serious than they were in the past.

“They’re a lot more passionate — I guess that’s a good word. Enthusiastic with their threats. And they’re not hiding. And they genuinely feel that they are doing something right. That they are the patriots,” Daniels said.

Daniels released a book, “Full Disclosure,” in 2018, detailing her alleged meeting with Trump at Lake Tahoe in 2006 in graphic detail and sharing narratives about her childhood and life.

She says she wrote the book because an earlier “60 Minutes” interview with Anderson Cooper “didn’t cover the ‘why’ of my decisions and the real, personal costs to me. … For all I’ve lost, I deserve the chance to defend myself and state all the facts.”

During Daniels’ interview with Cooper, she declined to discuss whether she had evidence of the affair and said that she was threatened to stay silent about it.

“He knows I’m telling the truth,” she said.

In her book, Daniels said Cohen threatened to sue shortly after an interview she did with the parent company of Life & Style and In Touch magazine in 2011. A few weeks later, she said, she was threatened in Las Vegas after attempting to sell her story of the alleged affair.

“I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter,” Daniels said. “And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom,’ and then he was gone,” she said.

Trump dismissed a composite sketch of the man she alleged threatened her, calling it “a total con job” in a 2018 tweet. Daniels then filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, alleging that he attempted to tarnish her reputation and credibility by dismissing her account. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit that October due to Trump’s statement being protected under the First Amendment, and Daniels has been ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in court-ordered payments to Trump attorneys in the years since.

“Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer…,” Trump tweeted at the time.

Daniels’ attorney at the time, Michael Avenatti — who rose to fame representing Daniels in the wake of the hush money controversy — said at the time that the details she provides in the book prove her story about having sex with Trump is true.

Avenatti and Daniels’ relationship took a turn, however, after it was revealed that Avenatti stole nearly $300,000 from her. Daniels testified against her onetime ally, who was eventually convicted and sentenced to four years in prison.

Prosecutors said Avenatti, who helped negotiate the $800,000 advance for her book, stole money from the advance by fabricating a letter purportedly from Daniels redirecting payments from the book publisher to an account under Avenatti’s control.

Longtime adult film actress

Daniels started out as a dancer in Louisiana before moving to Los Angeles to make porn films. She has experience with acting, as well as writing and directing films.

The actress has appeared in mainstream box-office hits, including “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up,” and was inducted into the Adult Video News Hall of Fame in 2014.

After a performance in 2018 at the Solid Gold gentleman’s club in Pompano Beach, Florida, Daniels told CNN that she was capitalizing on the moment when interest in her career was at an all-time high and using it to her advantage.

“I’m getting more dance bookings. I usually only dance once a month, and now I’m dancing three or four times a month. So that’s been really great,” she told CNN at the time.

The 45-year-old porn actress and exotic dancer has hosted a tour of engagements at strip clubs around the country and meets with several of her fans.

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