Stormy Daniels told 60 Minutes that she is “not a victim” to be lumped into the #MeToo movement, but if her story is true, her 2006 encounter with Donald Trump in a hotel room could be seen as a classic example of Hollywood’s casting couch – a trade for sex in the hope of being cast as a contestant on The Apprentice. If true, Trump might have violated state and federal laws that prohibit quid pro quo sex harassment, according to two experts Deadline spoke with, and SAG-AFTRA’s Code of Conduct as well.
“It reminds me of what people were disclosing when they met in hotel rooms with Harvey Weinstein to get a job in a movie or a production,” said Maya Raghu, director of workplace equity at the National Women’s Law Center, which houses the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. “If that was the case, that’s generally the way quid pro quo works.”
The EEOC, which enforces federal laws governing sexual harassment, defines quid pro quo as the “submission to or rejection of unwelcome sexual conduct by an individual as the basis for employment decisions.”
Trump has flatly denied having had a sexual encounter with the porn star, but his lawyer paid her $130,000 not to talk about it shortly before the 2016 election, and Trump has threatened to sue her for $20 million for talking about it.
Having been introduced to Trump at a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Daniels told Anderson Cooper that Trump invited her to dinner that night in his hotel suite, where he told her that she’d make a great contestant on Celebrity Apprentice.
Cooper asked her: “Did you think he was serious, or did you think he was kind of dangling to get you to wanna be involved with him?”
“Both,” she answered.
Daniels says she didn’t find him attractive but had sex with him anyway. Afterward, she says, he told that “he hoped that I would be willing to see him again and that we would discuss” her appearing on Celebrity Apprentice.
Gloria Allred, who represents four other women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment, told Deadline: “There’s an argument that she can make that it was quid pro quo. She indicated that Donald Trump had asked if she wanted to be on The Apprentice, and he was the host at the time. It was after that that they engaged in sexual activity, according to Stormy. She indicated that she didn’t find him attractive. So it may be that she engaged in sex as part of her effort to obtain an employment opportunity.”
“She also indicated that he continued to dangle The Apprentice,” Allred said, “and one could conclude that she may have engaged in sex with him to be on The Apprentice. It could be seen as a way for him to lure her into having sex with him.”
Allred said that if their sexual encounter “was unwelcome to her, it is potentially a quid pro quo situation because it is in the context of possible employment, and it appeared he wanted sex and she might have done it to obtain an employment opportunity. She might have been able to file a case at that time for sexual harassment if it was unwelcome.”
Daniels said during the interview that she and Trump continued to stay in touch by phone after their initial meeting, and that he told her that the prospects were good that’s she would become a contestant on the show. He asked to “get together again” so he can update her on how everyone is “totally into the idea” of her being on the show, according to Daniels, something she admitted “I never believed.”
“Did you still get the sense that he was kind of dangling it in front of you?” Cooper asked of Trump’s offer to get her on The Apprentice.
“Oh, for sure, oh yeah,” she replied. “[I] thought of it as a business deal,” she replied.
When they did meet privately at his bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel “to discuss a development regarding her possible appearance on Celebrity Apprentice,” she didn’t have sex with Trump a second time, even though he wanted to, Daniels said. She ultimately did not get the Celebrity Apprentice gig.
Allred told Deadline: “She was interested in that opportunity when they met again, and she indicated that they talked for a long time. She said they did not engage in sex, and she said he said he would call her the following week. Later, she learned she didn’t get the job.”
Daniels, who appeared in the role of a porn star in The 40-Year-Old Virgin the year before she met Trump, was a member of the Screen Actors Guild at the time. She also had a small role on BET’s sitcom The Soul Man that aired in May, and currently is owed unclaimed SAG residuals. Trump, a longtime SAG member, receives a SAG pension of more than $84,000 a year, according to a financial disclosure he filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics last June.
SAG-AFTRA did not respond to a request for comment, but its newly announced Code of Conduct states, “Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when your job or work assignments depend on your submission to sexual or romantic requests from a superior, or you are denied work or given less favorable work assignments because of your unwillingness to engage in sexual or romantic behavior.”
The code also notes that quid pro quo sex harassment can occur anywhere the union’s members go for work or to seek employment. “The employer’s obligation to maintain a harassment free work environment is not limited to a traditional worksite, whether it be an office, a booth or a set,” the code states. “The obligation extends to other locations where an employee is required to be in the course of the employee’s employment. That might include, for example, a meeting, audition, wrap party, or networking event.”
Daniels, however, doesn’t think her story fits into the #MeToo mold. “I was not a victim. I’ve never said I was a victim,” she said in the 60 Minutes interview. “I think trying to use me to further someone else’s agenda does horrible damage to people who are true victims.”