Years before the prosecution called the former porn star to testify Tuesday in Donald Trump’s “hush money” trial in Manhattan, Democrats viewed Stormy Daniels as an avenue for impeaching Trump when he was president. 

My 2020 book “Abuse of Power” details the origins of Left’s lawfare against Trump, which began immediately after his 2016 election to the presidency.  

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, an elected Democrat, led the first criminal case against Trump, followed by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in Georgia and two federal prosecutions by special counsel Jack Smith.

Indicted in four separate criminal cases for a total of 91 counts, Trump got some good news Tuesday when a federal judge in Florida postponed indefinitely his trial in the classified documents case, one of Smith’s.

Below is an adapted excerpt from “Abuse of Power”:

It’s funny how “legal experts” who would pop up working for Democrats were talking and writing about Trump’s demise for other reasons months earlier. 

Two lawyers whom the House Judiciary Committee hired for impeachment, Norman Eisen and Barry Berke, wrote a New York Times opinion piece along with Noah Bookbinder, also a lawyer, with the headline: “Is This the Beginning of the End for Trump?” 

The lawyers suggested Trump could be taken down for a possible campaign finance violation tied to alleged flings with former porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. 

Or, as the lawyers characterized it in their Times piece, federal prosecutors determined that “Mr. Trump, the Trump Organization, and the campaign were all directly involved in an illegal scheme to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump.” 

The lawyers’ op-ed in the Times further says Trump “could be named as an unindicted co-conspirator” or “charged if he leaves office before the statute of limitations runs out (most likely in 2022).”

Still, regarding the hush money [for Daniels and McDougal], even House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi had said after the news of  Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s planned guilty plea that it wasn’t grounds for impeachment, even as some of her members were pushing for that. 

“Impeachment has to spring from something else. If and when the information emerges about that, we’ll see,” Pelosi said in 2018. “It’s not a priority on the agenda going forward unless something else comes forward.”

But impeachment was a priority for members of the House Democratic Caucus, which she led. 

In December 2018, when Cohen pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation for paying hush money to Daniels, the plea agreement referred to “Individual 1” as directing him to do so. It was clear that this individual was Trump. 

Cohen also pleaded guilty to tax evasion and other financial crimes and was sentenced to three years in prison. He later pleaded guilty to lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In late 2019, with Democrats in control of the House, many of the hardliners in Pelosi’s caucus were pushing the speaker to go beyond Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as grounds for impeachment.

Democrats in the House Progressive Caucus wanted to include the ambiguous obstruction arguments from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the discredited Trump-Russia claims, the campaign finance allegation in the Stormy Daniels case, the emoluments clause of the Constitution, and potentially other matters. By this point, the House had launched 12 separate investigations into Trump. 

But after initial resistance, Pelosi had already caved once to the members demanding Trump’s impeachment on the Ukrainian phone call. The other matters would only prolong the process. 

Trump admitted he and Zelenskyy talked about Joe Biden. Now, Democrats just had to turn it into an impeachable case. 

Nevertheless, keeping swing district House Democrats in the loop was one reason why, early in the process, leadership had considered progressives’ demands for a “kitchen sink” impeachment involving Russia, Stormy Daniels, emoluments, and anything else they could think of. 

This would allow moderate Democrats to go home and say they had voted against some articles of impeachment while still voting to oust Trump in order to appease the base and avoid a potential primary challenger from the left. In the age of MAGA and #Resistance voters, primary challenges are a forefront concern for incumbents on both sides.

During the impeachment hearing, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee called former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch to testify. 

As with other witnesses, Yovanovitch’s legal counsel was steeped in Democratic politics. Lawrence S. Robbins represented both Republican and Democrat clients. 

But in a December 2018 op-ed for Politico, Robbins called for either impeaching or prosecuting Trump for campaign finance violation regarding the Daniels hush money.

Robbins wrote: “The Department of Justice’s description of the role of Individual 1—the president himself—leaves no doubt that career Justice Department prosecutors regard Trump as a full blown co-conspirator. And most serious-minded criminal lawyers agree that, if these allegations are true, the president, but for his day job, would have been sitting in the dock with his long-time fixer.” 

Robbins further wrote that Trump would use his office as president to shield himself from prosecution, so “Congress would surely have no choice but to hold him accountable in the way prescribed by the Constitution.”

That way, of course, was impeachment.