How Stormy Daniels ended up on 60 Minutes

Anderson Cooper and 60 Minutes producers explain how the story came to them

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It's the interview Americans have been waiting to see: adult film star Stormy Daniels describing her alleged affair with President Donald Trump, despite the threat of a $20 million lawsuit for breaching a non-disclosure agreement.  

How did 60 Minutes get the interview?

The path to Daniels' interview on Sunday began several years ago. Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, has previously appeared on 60 Minutes twice—once when he filed a suit alleging that a California cemetery was desecrating remains, and later when he represented hospitals who sued Halyard Health and Kimberly-Clark for fraud, contending that the companies had knowingly sold defective gowns that were supposed to protect health care workers from Ebola. Anderson Cooper reported both stories, which 60 Minutes producer Andy Court produced.  

Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti CBS News

"They were hard, investigative stories," Court says. "These were not easy stories."

Avenatti had seen the careful work 60 Minutes had done, so when Daniels became his client, he sought a news organization where she could tell her story. He called Court.

"In this business, you spend a lot of time doing things so that people will call you," Court tells 60 Minutes Overtime's Ann Silvio in the video above. "You spend a lot of time developing sources. You spend a lot of time on stories, trying to acquit yourself honorably, so people will trust you."

60 Minutes producer Andy Court, correspondent Anderson Cooper, and associate producer Evie Salomon. Court and Cooper had previously produced two 60 Minutes stories with Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti

Daniels and Avenatti both assert that other news outlets offered to pay a hefty sum of money for her story—even as high as $1 million. Cooper's understanding is that Avenatti advised his client to speak to a credible news broadcast that doesn't pay for interviews.  

But convincing 60 Minutes bosses to do the story was another matter.

"We talked to our boss about this before we did anything else, executive producer Jeff Fager," says Evie Salomon, the associate producer on the story. "And it was an interesting meeting because the answer was not, 'Go— go do and go shoot this interview.' The answer was, 'Take a meeting and see how it goes.'"

The meeting took place at Daniels' suburban Texas home, where she lives with her husband and young daughter. White picket fences border the houses, and chalk drawings decorate the pavement. Daniels owns a horse, which she rides daily and teaches her daughter to ride.

"It's definitely not what you expect," Salomon says.

The 60 Minutes team initially met Stormy Daniels at her suburban Texas home. When she's not filming in L.A., she rides her horse daily and teaches her daughter to ride. CBS News

"You hear you're going to go meet a porn star, you obviously have certain stereotypes probably in your head," Court says. "Her life's a lot like anybody else's. She just has a very unusual profession."

Court says the initial meeting with Daniels helped convince him—and later, the 60 Minutes executives—to move forward with the interview.

"My approach is generally to judge someone's credibility based upon what they tell me and what we can confirm," he says. "Not based on whether they're a porn star or not."

The video above was produced by Brit McCandless Farmer and Will Croxton. It was edited by Will Croxton and Sarah Shafer Prediger.