Trump’s Commercial Pleasures

At 9:58 am on March 25th, former president Donald Trump, decked out in a navy suit, red tie and white shirt, appeared in a New York court seeking a further delay in a case involving a commercial tryst he had with the porn star, Stormy Daniels (aka Stephanie Clifford). He claimed, “This is a witch-hunt and a hoax.” The trial is now set for April 15th.

On January 18, 2018, The Wall Street Journal broke the exposé that, in 2006, Trump hooked up with Daniels.  A decade later, in the hush-hush lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, Republican candidate Trump had a problem.  The Journal revealed that his lawyer, Michael Cohen, allegedly paid “Ms. Daniels” $130,000 to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) in October 2016 to keep quiet about her affair with then-candidate Trump.  When word first got out, Trump and his attorney denied the story.

Men who become president have enormous power and often realize this power in sexual exploits be they consensual, non-consensual or commercial.  While such exploits date from the country’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, and his long-term relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings, they have become common aspects of the political and person lives of more recent presidents, most notably Trump, Bill Clinton and John Kennedy.

Can you image what sex with Trump would be like?  He stands 6’3”, weighs 239 pounds and lumbers like a retired football lineman, an apparently imposing but hobbled alpha-male.  The American public got a remarkably revealing glimpse of Trump’s misogynist prowess when he stalked Hillary Clinton during an October 2016 presidential campaign debate.  Sadly, stalking his prey likely contributed to his electoral victory.

Trump is a man at the nexus of two contesting forces that define postmodern American life – hedonism and hypocrisy.  Over the course of his adult life he morphed, like a recovering alcoholic, from an up-market hipster to a repentant moralist.  He embodies a profound contradiction: he seems to love money as much as sex, both assertions of primitive masculine potency and power.  His adult-life trajectory symbolizes the arch of the culture wars, especially the evolving sexual politics over the last half-century.

Revelations about Trump’s sexual exploits regularly capture media attention.  The late-2018 trial, conviction and sentencing of his personal attorney – and “fixer” – Cohen for campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud was but the latest revelation about his illicit sexual relations.  The affairs with two women — the former porn star aka Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, the Playboy1998 Playmate of the Year – occurred decades ago and provide insight into his sexuality.  Their individual stories have been revealed, respectively, in interviews with In Touch, CBS’s “60 Minutes” and on CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s show, among other media outlets.


As word first got out, Trump and his attorney initially denied the story.  The Journal also revealed that McDougal was about to release her story when The National Enquirer, a fierce Trump supporter, made an offer she couldn’t refuse, a generous payment of $150,000 for exclusive use of her story as well as two years’ worth of her fitness columns and magazine covers.  The efforts by Trump and his associates to suppress stories about his extra-marital, commercial relations with these women only mushroomed into scandals that once captured the nation’s attention that are now all-but-forgotten.

Insight into Trump sexual character was best expressed in a revealing interview “Stormy” gave to Jordi Lippe-McGraw of In Touch in 2011, five years before she signed the NDA.  It likely expressed the experiences of both women.  According to the publication, “Subsequent to the interview, Ms. Daniels took and passed a polygraph test. The account of her affair was corroborated by one of her good friends and supported by her ex-husband, both of whom also passed polygraph tests.”  It added, “this interview has been lightly edited for clarity and style.”

The In Touch interview gave a vivid sense of Trump and Clifford’s first evening together.  He had invited her out and then they had dinner in his suite – and the dinner was different than she expected. Going to his room, Trump’s bodyguard, Keith Schiller, allowed her entry. As she recalled:

“I went in and I was all dressed up because I had just assumed that we were going to go to dinner, but he meant to have dinner in his room. Like he wasn’t dressed to go out at all, just lounging. … I remember saying, because he was all sprawled out on the couch, watching television or something. He was wearing pajama pants. And I was like, “Ha, does Mr. Hefner, know that you stole his outfit?” … He got all huffy and tried to play it off and was like, “Oh, I just thought we would relax here.” We ended up having dinner in the room.

“Clifford recalled that Trump went overboard trying to impress her.

“He kept showing me he was on the cover of a magazine that had just come out and it was some sort of money magazine …  and I was like, “Dude, I know who you are.” He was trying to sell me, I guess. … The first time I met him, the first couple of hours, he was very full of himself, like he was trying to impress me or something. But I do remember he just kept talking about this magazine that he was on the cover of, like, “Look at this magazine, don’t I look great on the cover?””

Trump then asked her about his hairdo, and Clifford said something like, “’Dude, what’s up with that?’ and he laughed and said, ‘You know, everybody wants to give me a makeover and I’ve been offered all this money and all these free treatments.’ … He said that he thought that if he cut his hair or changed it, that he would lose his power and his wealth. And I laughed hysterically at him.”  At one point she asked about his wife, and he dismissed the question: “’Oh, don’t worry about her.’  [And] Quickly, quickly changed the subject.”

When Clifford left the suite’s living room for the restroom in the bedroom, the evening’s adventure changed.

“When I came out, he was sitting on the bed and he was like, “Come here.” And I was like, “Ugh, here we go.” And we started kissing. I actually don’t even know why I did it but I do remember while we were having sex, I was like, “Please don’t try to pay me.” And then I remember thinking, “But I bet if he did, it would be a lot.””

Reflecting on Trump, she seemed to have quickly pegged him. “I was more like fascinated. I was definitely stimulated. We had a really good banter. Good conversation for a couple hours. I could tell he was nice, intelligent in conversation,” she acknowledged.

“So anyway, the sex was nothing crazy,” Clifford admitted. “He wasn’t like, chain me to the bed or anything. It was one position. I can definitely describe his junk perfectly, if I ever have to. He definitely seemed smitten after that. He was like, ‘I wanna see you again, when can I see you again?’  She added, “[the sex] was textbook generic. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh my God, I love you.’  He wasn’t like Fabio or anything. He wasn’t trying to have, like, porn sex.’ … Nothing freaky. Like, ‘Oh yeah, that feels good. That’s amazing.’ You know. It was one position, what you would expect someone his age to do. It wasn’t bad. Don’t get me wrong.”


The press reports that, since the 1970s, at least 26 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Just weeks before the 2016 election, a series of sex scandals almost derailed Trump’s electoral bid.  Two former Miss Universe pageant winners — Alicia Machado (Venezuelan American) and Ninni Laaksonen (Finland) – publicly accused Trump of sexual assault.  This revelation occurred at the time the Journal revealed that McDougal received a generous payment of $150,000 from the National Enquirer to hide a 10-month consensual affair with Trump.

In 2023, E. Jean Carroll won a $5 million liable case against Trump over his alleging raping her in the mid-1990s; in a 2024 follow-up defamation case, Trump was ordered to pay Carroll $83.3 million.

Trump’s sexual practices are, like his tax returns, a mystery.  Analogous to his “vast” business operations, Trump’s sexual proclivities seem equally vast. Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, was the latest of some two-dozen women who have publicly declared that they had been groped or otherwise sexually assaulted by the nation’s 45thpresident.

Clifford is the subject a of new documentary, “Stormy,” by Erin Lee Carr and Sarah Gibson and now streaming on Peacock.

David Rosen is the author of Sex, Sin & Subversion:  The Transformation of 1950s New York’s Forbidden into America’s New Normal (Skyhorse, 2015).  He can be reached at; check out