The invitation had been for dinner, but when porn star Stormy Daniels arrived at Donald Trump's hotel room, she found her date dressed for bed.

Wearing pyjama bottoms, the future Leader of the Free World was sprawled on the sofa waiting for her, she claims.

It was the summer of 2006 and Mr Trump, then riding high as host of a hit TV reality show, was playing in a charity golf match in Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border.

Back in New York was his wife of a year, Melania, who had given birth to their son, Barron, just under four months earlier.

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According to Daniels, then one of the adult film industry's biggest stars, the encounter was the start of a consensual affair. Mr Trump, who was then 60, insists it never happened and a White House spokesman has dismissed her claims as 'recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election".

However, 12 years on, the alleged liaison between the star of The Apprentice and the star of Missionary Impossible and Breast Side Story has returned to haunt the President in spectacular fashion. It's deeply tawdry, endlessly fascinating and just a little bit comical (unless you're Donald or Melania). But many believe the unfolding scandal could have serious consequences for the President.

For all the talk of Trump's cronies in the Kremlin or North Korean missiles bringing a premature end to his presidency, there's a growing belief in Washington that it might yet be "Stormin" Daniels" who brings him down.

She has launched a bid to overturn a 2016 non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that prevents her discussing her relationship with Mr Trump. Some predict it will open the floodgates to a deluge of ugly revelations about the President's private life.

For 38-year-old Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — isn't the only adult entertainment star whose recent claims about Mr Trump's sexual misbehaviour have led to a respected New York Times columnist crowning him "our first Porn President".

Three other adult stars — two porn actresses and a centrefold model — have heaped on the embarrassment with their own accusations about sexual impropriety.

Karen McDougal, a former nursery teacher who was Playboy's Playmate of the Year in 1998, says her account of a nine-month affair with Mr Trump was bought by the National Enquirer for $150,000, only for the tabloid magazine's owner, David Pecker, a close friend of the President, to bury it.

Both Mr Trump and Mr Pecker deny the allegation. The publication said it decided not to run the story because it didn't find it credible.

In an eight-page letter written by Miss McDougal and obtained by the New Yorker magazine last month, it was claimed that she first met Mr Trump at a poolside party at the Playboy Mansion in June 2006.

After they had sex, she says Mr Trump offered her money. When she insisted she wasn't "that girl", he told her: "You are special." She claims they also slept together the following month at the Lake Tahoe golf tournament.

According to Miss McDougal, Mr Trump liked to share articles about him and his daughter Ivanka with her. Taking her on a tour of his penthouse home in New York's Trump Tower, he reportedly pointed out the separate bedroom he and his wife used, telling her that Melania "liked her space to read or be alone".

In a statement, a White House spokesman said Mr Trump denies having an affair with Miss McDougal: 'This is an old story that is just more fake news. The President says he never had a relationship with McDougal."

Also at that golf tournament at Lake Tahoe was Jessica Drake, who has starred with Stormy Daniels in porn films. She has accused Mr Trump of mauling her, kissing her and propositioning her.

Jessica Drake has accused Mr Trump of mauling her, kissing her and propositioning her. Photo / Getty Images
Jessica Drake has accused Mr Trump of mauling her, kissing her and propositioning her. Photo / Getty Images

Ms Drake says she and two other women went to his room where Mr Trump, again in pyjamas and accompanied by a bodyguard, hugged and kissed them.

She claims she was later offered $10,000 (though she was unable to recall whether Trump or a man calling on his behalf proposed it to her) and use of Trump's private plane in return for sex, but she refused.

A spokesman for Mr Trump denied these claims, too, saying "this story is totally false and ridiculous".

Ms Drake first made her accusations in 2016, but she's now back in the spotlight as a possible witness in the Daniels case, after it emerged that the two porn stars had discussed the latter's hushed-up affair with Mr Trump.

Just for good measure, there's yet another porn star, Alana Evans, in the game.

Ms Evans says that Mr Trump and Ms Daniels both pleaded with her on the phone to join them for a threesome during that action-packed golfing weekend. She refused the generous offer, saying she wasn't attracted to him.

Evans claims that, the following day, she met Stormy and asked how it went. "She tells me, "All I'm going to say is that I ended up with Donald in his hotel room. Picture him chasing me round his hotel room in his tighty-whities"," she said. "I was like, "Oh, I really didn't need to hear that"."

As with all the other salacious claims, the White House denies Ms Evans's account.

Of course, it's not the first time that Mr Trump has been accused of infidelity. He was deluged with sexual assault claims (all of which he denied) in the closing stages of the 2016 election, not that it made much difference to the result.

Voters even forgave him when a tape emerged in which he boasted graphically of groping women.

But in the opinion of some American legal experts, this time it could be different, with Ms Daniels being compared to Paula Jones, the woman whose 1994 sexual harassment lawsuit against president Bill Clinton led to his impeachment (although he was subsequently acquitted).

More than 20 years later, there's talk of impeachment again following Ms Daniels's attempt to overturn the 2016 agreement by which she agreed to keep silent about Mr Trump in return for $130,000.

If her court case is allowed to proceed, the President and his longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen — who paid out the "hush money" just ten days before the election — may have to testify in depositions.

It would be illegal under U.S. election law for the Trump business empire or his election campaign to have paid out for such a deal. However, Mr Cohen insists that the money came out of his own pocket.

He claims it was never discussed with anyone else in the Trump circle and he hadn't expected to be reimbursed.

However, it has since emerged that Mr Cohen used his Trump Organisation email to finalise the deal. Mr Cohen has explained that he regularly used his business email for personal matters.

In fighting the attempt by the wily Stormy Daniels to slip out of the terms of her NDA, Team Trump faces another headache.

The NDA actually refers to Stormy Daniels not discussing a man called "David Dennison" — not a Donald Trump. This was an alleged ploy to protect Mr Trump's identity.

If the President doesn't admit he is David Dennison, Daniels has a much stronger case to argue that she is not bound by the terms of the deal, and is free to go public about her claimed relationship with him.

But if Mr Trump does admit he's Dennison, he will face questioning in court, and under oath, about whether he knew of the "hush payment". His lawyer will, additionally, face questions as to why — under U.S. law — he didn't inform his client of the agreeement.

An interview with Stormy Daniels is set to air on the CBS current affairs show 60 Minutes on March 25, although Mr Trump's lawyers have threatened to stop it going out.

Meanwhile, a campaign finance watchdog group called Common Cause is arguing that the Daniels hush money was paid in service of Mr Trump's presidential campaign because it bought silence on a controversy that could have hurt his prospects. If that's so, it argues, then the payment could be an illegal undisclosed campaign contribution.

All in all. it's a hugely complicated legal mess and, unfortunately for the President, it doesn't even end there.

"A lawsuit opens the door, and judges almost always allow for a plaintiff to have a "fishing" expedition," says Robert Bennett, the Washington lawyer who represented President Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones case.

Daniels will be entitled to ask all manner of unpleasant questions of Mr Trump and his lawyers, which they would be legally bound to answer truthfully. Mr Benne"t says these questions would almost certainly include: "Have you paid other people money?"

In Michael Wolff's controversial book, Fire And Fury, published late last year, the author quotes Steve Bannon, the president's former chief strategist, as saying that another Trump lawyer [Marc Kasowitz] had got Mr Trump out of "all kinds of jams" and "took care of" 100 women during the campaign.

Kasowitz has dismissed Bannon's reported remarks about him as "pure fiction".

Other lawyers predict the Stormy Daniels lawsuit could easily be widened to address what one called the "wide array of Trump's sexual interactions".

Cue further Trump-bashing testimony from Karen McDougal, Jessica Drake, Alana Evans and possibly a posse of other women.

Some argue that, unlike other women accusers who have been silenced by Mr Trump's dismissal of them as money-grabbing attention seekers, porn stars have no such sensitivity about their public image. They really don't care what the President calls them. Stormy Daniels, currently revealing all on a "Make America Horny Again" tour of U.S. strip clubs, is unashamedly out to grab as much money as she can from her notoriety.

Quite why the Trump camp is so desperate to silence her is perplexing many, given she's already spilled the beans on what she insists happened between them.

In 2011, Daniels gave an interview to a celebrity magazine and passed a lie detector test that she was required to take beforehand.

The interview — held back for reasons unknown — was finally published two months ago and was hardly complimentary about the President.

They had "textbook generic sex", Ms Daniels claimed, but Mr Trump — who called her "honeybunch" — was a better conversationalist. "We had really good banter," she recalled. A photo on her social media page at the time showed them together at the Tahoe golfing event.

She said that Mr Trump evaded any questions about his wife Melania, telling her: "Oh, don't worry about her."

She went on: "He was sitting on the bed and he was like, "Come here." And I was like, "Ugh, here we go", and we started kissing."

Daniels said she couldn't even remember why she agreed to have sex with him, although she recalled thinking: "Please, don't try to pay me."

Afterwards, she says Mr Trump asked her to sign a copy of her latest comedy porn film, 3 Wishes.

Mr Trump became "smitten" with her, she says, and would ring her every ten days, promising to put her on his show The Apprentice.

She said they continued to meet up, at Trump Tower in New York, at a Hollywood party and at the Miss USA pageant in Los Angeles.

Their affair really lasted just months, says Ms Daniels, but Mr Trump only stopped phoning her in 2010 — four years after they first met.

Meanwhile, Ms Daniels's lawyer, Michael Avenatti, has been touring the TV studios this week, saying that he and his client will show that Mr Trump's insistence that he had nothing to do with her hush agreement is "patently false".

Mr Avenatti said that he has been approached by six other women with stories about the President similar to hers.

He also claimed that Ms Daniels had been physically threatened to stay silent about Mr Trump. He wouldn't say by whom.

"There's the act and there's the cover-up, and the American people are going to learn about both," he said of his client's story.

The new allegations that Mr Trump had affairs prompted a slew of reports suggesting they had created a rift with his wife Melania.

Her spokesman decried a "laundry list of salacious and flat-out false reporting and said Melania was 'focused on her family & role as FLOTUS [First Lady of the United States] — not the unrealistic scenarios being peddled daily by the fake news".

Even so, it was reported that several hours after the New Yorker magazine published Miss McDougal's story in February, Melania Trump conspicuously chose not to join her husband on the traditional walk across the White House lawn to the presidential helicopter.

Instead she was driven to the airport to board Air Force One and fly to Florida. Waiting media were ordered not to photograph her as she arrived.

How it all plays out remains to be seen, but there's good reason to believe that a post-Harvey Weinstein America is less ready to tolerate tales of sexual misconduct by powerful men than it was during the election in 2016.

According to the latest data from the respected Pew Research Centre, enthusiasm for Mr Trump among white evangelical women — one of his core support groups — is slipping significantly. Porn stars appear to have been a factor.

With reports this week that Mr Trump plans to run for a second term under the slogan "Keep America Great" — and even if the President and his lawyers can wriggle their way out of his latest legal nightmare — there may be a heavy price to pay at the ballot box in two years' time.