Meghan McCain accuses adult star Stormy Daniels of "publicity stunt" on "The View"

"What I do for a job doesn't impact my ability to know right from wrong – or my ability to tell the truth"

By Joseph Neese

Deputy Editor in Chief

Published April 17, 2018 3:56PM (EDT)

Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti and Meghan McCain on "The View" (ABC/Heidi Gutman)
Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti and Meghan McCain on "The View" (ABC/Heidi Gutman)

After showing up at a federal court hearing for Michael Cohen, the disgraced personal attorney for President Donald Trump who recently found himself the subject of a raid by federal prosecutors at the behest of special counsel Robert Mueller, Stormy Daniels unveiled a sketch of the man who she claims threatened her against revealing her alleged affair with Trump back in 2011.

While recounting the alleged threat to Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes" last month, Daniels claimed that a man walked up to her and said, "Leave Trump alone. Forget the story." Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said the man then looked at her daughter and said, "That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom."

Joined by her lawyer Michael Avenatti, Daniels sat down with moderator Whoopi Goldberg and the full panel of ABC's "The View" for her first and only live interview. Goldberg introduced Daniels to the program, which is hosted exclusively by women, by saying that the performer was "on a mission to be heard about the alleged affair with the guy in the White House." But her co-panelist Meghan McCain seemed intent on preventing Daniels from accomplishing that mission.

McCain began her questioning by casting doubt on the legitimacy of Daniel's desire to be heard in spite of her allegations of being silenced by powerful men. "It seems like a publicity stunt on some level," McCain said, as she also questioned Daniels' motive for showing up at Cohen's court hearing, where camera crews were waiting.

"I understand that you’re being sued by our president, but it does seem like you’re benefiting a lot," McCain said before appearing to pass judgment on Daniels' career choice by taking issue with her current project being called the "Make America Horny Again" tour.

"No disrespect, I hadn’t heard your name until all of this had happened," McCain continued. "And now you are literally live on 'The View' giving an entire interview with us. So it has been beneficial for your career."

After pointing out her own perceived role as an adorner of fame in America, McCain made a point to clarify that Daniels was not the first adult star she had interviewed before ultimately dismissing her own argument. "I have respect for any woman who does well in any industry, it’s whatever," she clarified.

Yet McCain's thinly-veiled victim blaming did not stop there. "Have you thought about all of the implications of this on the Trump family?" McCain asked Daniels.

Daniels made it clear that deciding to tell her story to the nation was not a decision that she took lightly, and that with a track record of success in her industry where she eventually rose to director, she had no desire to be famous merely for an alleged  sexual relationship with a man who went on to become president. "It's overwhelming, and intimidating and downright scary sometimes," she admitted. While acknowledging that she is making more money, Daniels added context: She is also spending more money due to new needs that include bodyguards, drivers and legal bills.

The adult film star had a two-folded message for the American public: This is not a publicity stunt, and I am sick and tired of being bullied.

"What I do for a living should not matter," Daniels told the women of "The View." "What I do for a job doesn't impact my ability to know right from wrong – or my ability to tell the truth."

The sketch of the man who allegedly threatened Daniels and her daughter was drawn by Lois Gibson, who has been given the title of "The World's Most Successful Forensic Artist" by The Guinness Book of World Records. According to her website, Gibson's work has aided investigators in correctly identifying more than 750 criminals.

Written on the sketch is Daniel's description of the perpetrator, whom she described as being in his 30's to early 40's at the time, ranging in height from 5'9" to 6'0" and being lean but fit. The unveiling quickly became one of the top trends on Twitter, as Avenatti stated, "We're offering a 100,000 award for information leading to the capture of this man." Avenatti also set up a Gmail account with a memorable username: "ID the thug."

"We think we know who sent him," Avenatti claimed before adding, "We know that someone knows something."

Daniels' attorney also offered his blunt predictions of Michael Cohen's legal fate. Of the president's lawyer, who reportedly arranged multiple hush payments for Republican politicians, including one valued at $130,000 in exchange for Daniels' silence in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election, Avenatti said there was "no question" in his mind that Cohen would be indicted by prosecutors and eventually turn on the president in exchange for leniency. "He hasn't done him any favors," Avenatti said of Trump, who publicly denied knowing about the payment to White House reporters.

"Michael Cohen is my attorney, and you'll have to ask Michael," Trump said at the time.

By Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is Salon's Deputy Editor in Chief. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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