When adult film star Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) gave her gripping account on 60 Minutes Sunday of being physically threatened at her car door while fumbling around with baby stuff for her infant daughter, it was just the latest in a pattern of revelations about the thuggish tactics Trump appears to have used to intimidate his perceived enemies.
“Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,” Daniels said the man told her, before turning to focus on Daniels’ infant daughter in the back seat. According to Daniels, the man said to her, “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.”
Clifford couldn’t identify the man or definitively prove that he was associated with Trump. But the threat came in 2011, just after she had given her account of a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump—then married to Melania, who had just given birth to their son—to a sister publication of In Touch magazine. The publication ultimately shelved the story under threat of a lawsuit from Trump.
When the affair rumors began to resurface again during the 2016 campaign, Clifford said she was “tempted” to sell her story to an outlet but instead settled for an offer that would likely also alleviate the jarring threat she had received a handful of years earlier. “And then I get the call,” she said. Trump’s attorney/goon, Michael Cohen, was proposing a $130,000 payment for her silence.
“The story [of the alleged affair] was coming out again. I was concerned for my family and their safety,” Daniels told [Anderson] Cooper. “I didn’t even negotiate, I just quickly said yes to this very, you know, strict contract — and what most people will agree with me extremely low number.”
If Clifford’s story were told in a vacuum, it would still raise eyebrows about how Trump handled the entire affair. But her account fits a pattern of thuggish behavior experienced by other people who had earned Trump’s for everything from representing his opponents to launching consumer campaigns against his products.
Buzzfeed ran an investigative piece last year titled “If You Keep Fucking With Mr. Trump, We Know Where You Live.” It uncovered FBI documents detailing similar menacing threats. In May 2017, Jason Leopold wrote:
When Donald Trump’s casino business went bankrupt in 2009, a lawyer whose clients stood to lose more than a billion dollars told police and the FBI that he got a menacing phone call from a man with a thick New York accent who threatened his family.
“My name is Carmine. I don’t know why you’re fucking with Mr. Trump but if you keep fucking with Mr. Trump, we know where you live and we’re going to your house for your wife and kids,” the caller said, according to the account that the attorney, Kristopher Hansen, gave to the Holmdel police department in New Jersey. Hansen speculated that the caller was Trump’s bodyguard.
According to FBI case notes, the phone call to Hansen was made at 2:05 p.m. on Feb. 18, 2009, from a New York City telephone booth located across the street from the Ed Sullivan Theater, where Trump was a guest that day on The Late Show With David Letterman. Three former employees of the show told BuzzFeed News that guests were asked to arrive in advance of the 4:30 taping, though accounts differ on just how far in advance.
Hansen, who got the phone call during a train ride back froma bankruptcy hearing for Trump’s casino company,transcribed the threat in real time on a napkin. He was so concerned about it that theHolmdel police department monitored his home for several days after he received the call.
And then there’sAngelo Carusone, who says he had a run-in with Trump’s longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller in 2012. Carusone had started a campaign to pressure Macy’s to stop carrying Trump products and had gathered some 700,000 signatures. He invited a couple hundred of the signatories to deliver the petition to Macy’s when an uninvited plus-one arrived, as Carusone told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Monday night:
There was a guy that showed up. He was pretty big in a trench coat, a little suspicious. I assumed maybe he might have been a security guard or whatever, but I had no idea who it was, and at one point he mentioned to me, “You know, you could get hurt doing what you’re doing,” very casually.
And it was like, “Hey, this is a sort of a comical threat.” I mean, it’s an exaggeration, honestly. You never hear that in real life.
And then fast forward a couple of years later, I was watching TV during the campaign, and it turned out to be Donald Trump’s top security guard. I recognized his face, and then I went back and looked at pictures from the events, and you can actually see him lurking off in the background. He showed up, and I was able to remember that that was the guy.
None of these are a one-off. They amount to a pattern of intimidation and one has to wonder how many other stories like this exist, where the current pr*sident of the United States threatened people’s lives in order to make something inconvenient or harmful go away.
That’s the same man who has persistently used his position to bully our nation’s top law enforcement agency to do this bidding on things like firing a 21-year veteran of the FBI about 24 hours before his pension kicked in.
Trump has likely been using a drug lord’s tactics to try to bend people to his will for years. Now, empowered with the vast tools of the federal government at his fingertips, he’s employing the very same tactics to intimidate, harass, and shame his perceived enemies—wherever he might find them.