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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

This ‘hush’ money tale seems like small stuff for Trump

Many anti-Trump Twitter warriors ask why the Stormy Daniels scandal is gathering less of a fury than might be expected if it involved another president.

One reason may be that the story lacks shock value, given who the players are.

If true, the allegation that Trump’s fixer ponied up $130,000 to a porn actress to hush up extramarital encounters suggests little about Donald Trump’s conduct that voters didn’t have cause to know or suspect before electing him.

Public information is valuable if it reveals, as John Adams wrote in 1765, the true character of our leaders.

Trump, however, has long advertised vulgar thoughts on certain matters. Consider his recorded “grab-him-by-the-etc.” remarks, cringeworthy quips about his daughter, raunchy banter on Howard Stern’s broadcasts, and tabloid divorces.

Remember, too, the several women who came forward and swore he put these predilections into practice.

He won the Electoral College anyway.

So let’s say a laundered payoff to Stephanie Clifford (Daniels’ real name) via a shell company created by Trump lawyer-fixer Michael Cohen is ultimately proved in a lawsuit.

Compared with past stories, the notion of such a deal seems downright consensual, businesslike and discreet.

A White House spokesman says Trump has “denied all these allegations.” But Trump has not launched one of his all-out-denial campaigns.

In fact, he hasn’t really talked about it at all — another reason the story, for the moment, has a limited shelf life.

The purported affair goes back more than a decade. The only scandals that seem to hurt presidents arise from actions in office.

Bill Clinton faced trouble over a White House intern, not controversies back in Arkansas. Richard Nixon was called “Tricky Dick” long before his Watergate-ruined presidency.

Another reason the Stormy storm moves in and out of the news is that a much more powerful tempest swirls on the horizon: special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

That probe’s public interest goes well beyond any mutual arrangement between Clifford and Trump.

Sleazy as the situation may seem, it could be spun as middle-aged entrepreneurs acting in their own financial, promotional and recreational interests.

After all, isn’t Trump supposed to be the “art-of-the-deal” president?


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