It was more than a decade ago in 2006 that, according to a Wall Street Journal expose published last week, porn star Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, said she had slept with billionaire "Apprentice" host Donald Trump. So, why did it take until 2018 for the alleged affair to make headlines?
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Mr. Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged for Clifford to be paid $130,000 for her silence in 2016, a month ahead of the presidential election. But outlets were pursuing the story seemingly long before that.
InTouch magazine on Wednesday published a seven-year-old interview with Clifford, in which she says she had recurring sexual encounters with Mr. Trump after meeting him in July 2006. Melania Trump, whom Mr. Trump had married about a year before, had recently given birth to their son Barron Trump.
"Whether you're a fan of his or not, which I never really was, you gotta admit he's pretty fascinating," Clifford said in the 2011 interview the magazine published Wednesday. "We had really good banter. He told me once that I was someone to be reckoned with, beautiful and smart just like his daughter."
It's unclear with the publication did not run with the interview at the time.
Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of Slate, wrote an article in his publication earlier this week also saying he spoke with Clifford about the alleged tryst at the time, and between August and October 2016, just ahead of the election, the porn star was ready to take her story public.
Weisberg writes, "Not long after the 2016 Republican National Convention, I got a tip from a friend of mine. An old acquaintance of his in California was close to a woman in the adult-film industry who claimed to have had an affair with Donald Trump. I reached my friend's friend, who put me in touch with the actress, who is known as Stormy Daniels. Daniels...did indeed have a story about Trump, which she related to me in a series of phone conversations and text exchanges that took place between August and October of 2016."
Three of Clifford's friends told Weisberg they were aware of the alleged affair at the time. Weisberg also published the screenshot of an unsigned document Clifford supposedly sent to him in 2016.
Clifford was concerned Mr. Trump wouldn't pay up, and she wanted to be compensated somehow if she spoke out instead, Weisberg wrote. Then, Weisberg said she stopped responding to his attempts at communication. He never published anything about the claims ahead of the election.
"Given what was going on in the final weeks of the campaign, during which Trump was facing a torrent of accusations of sexual abuse, I didn't think an extramarital affair would be a highly significant story," Weisberg wrote.
"What interested me more was Daniels' allegation that Trump had negotiated to buy her silence. Daniels said that, through intermediaries, she and Trump had worked out an agreement for the presidential candidate to pay her a six-figure sum to keep quiet. More specifically, she said her lawyer Keith Davidson, a Beverly Hills–based attorney who specializes in claims against celebrities, had worked out the terms with Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen."
Slate wasn't the only publication pursuing the story.
A Fox News reporter, according to a CNN report, was also pursuing the story about the alleged affair. Fox News reporter Diana Falzone in October 2016 reportedly filed a story that included an on-the-record statement from Clifford's manager at the time confirming the alleged affair, and Falzone had viewed emails discussing a settlement. But Fox News shelved the story, according to the CNN report.
Clifford last week denied the affair claims in a statement provided to CBS News.
"To whom it may concern, I recently became aware that certain news outlets are alleging that I had a sexual and/or romantic affair with Donald Trump man, many, many years ago. I am stating with complete clarity that this is absolutely false."
The buzz about "Stormy Daniels" — she was trending on Twitter Friday — has seemingly died down about as quickly as it came. In the first White House press briefing since the Wall Street Journal report, not a single reporter asked about the story.