President Donald Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said Stormy Daniels' claim she had sex with Trump in 2006 isn't credible because she's a porn actress with "no reputation," quickly drawing condemnation from members of the legal sex industry.
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"I'm sorry I don't respect a porn star the way I respect a career woman or a woman of substance or a woman who isn't going to sell her body for sexual exploitation," Giuliani said Wednesday at a conference in Tel Aviv.
Daniels' work as an adult film actress "entitles you to no degree of giving your credibility any weight," he said, adding that people could "just look" at Daniels to know she wasn't believable.
"Excuse me, but when you look at Stormy Daniels ..." Giuliani said, prompting the moderator to interject and tell him that he must respect women while speaking at the "Globes" Capital Market conference.
The adult film industry took the former New York City mayor to task Thursday, saying his comments demean women in general and were aimed solely at discrediting Daniels because of how she makes a living and not based on the facts of the case.
"The fact of the matter is the average person in the adult film industry is generally no more or less honest than any other person in society, and in the case of Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump, probably quite a bit more honest," said Mark Kernes, senior editor of Adult Video News, the industry's trade publication, and a longtime friend of Daniels'.
Jackie Martin, a spokeswoman for Vivid Entertainment, one of the industry's largest porn producers, said Giuliani's comments were "offensive and outlandish."
"Many talented women of substance have chosen to make their careers in the adult industry," she said.
Other advocates for legal sex-related industries bemoaned Giuliani's comments as trying to silence the voices of women who face exploitation.
"It's incredibly dangerous to attach the worth of a person to their sexual behavior," said Christa B. Daring, executive director of the Sex Workers Outreach Project.
"Frequently, appearance is weaponized against women in our society, whether that be because they're too pretty or they're too heavy," Daring said.
Giuliani's comments also drew a heated response from Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, who called for Trump to immediately fire Giuliani.
Daniels has said she had sex with a married Trump in 2006. She is fighting to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement she signed days before the 2016 election.
Trump has denied Daniels' allegations that they had sex just months after his wife, Melania, gave birth to their son.
Trump has appeared in benign roles in at least three soft-core porn films in the 1990s and early 2000s.
BuzzFeed and CNN reported in 2016 that in one of the videos, Trump appears backstage at a fashion show with two Playboy Playmates and the future first lady. In another, he pops open a bottle of champagne on a Playboy-branded limo and the third shows him photographing clothed models and interviewing a Playboy Playmate.
Photos in which Melania Trump, a former model, had posed nude surfaced during the 2016 campaign. They were taken in the 1990s for the now-defunct French magazine Max. She also posed naked and lying on a fur blanket for British GQ in 2000.
Giuliani said the first lady doesn't believe Daniels' claim.
But Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump's spokeswoman, said Thursday: "I don't believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani."
Giuliani said the $130,000 that Daniels was paid as part of the nondisclosure agreement was "like a nuisance thing." If her claims could be proven, she would have been paid millions of dollars, he said.
Avenatti fired back on Twitter, calling Giuliani a "misogynist." He said Daniels "should be celebrated for her courage, strength and intelligence" and that he "would be put her character up against Mr. Giuliani's any day of the week."
Giuliani declined to comment further Thursday when reached by The Associated Press.
Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire in New York, Darlene Superville in Washington, Alexandra Villarreal in Philadelphia and John Rogers in Los Angeles contributed to this report.