'Dirty situation': MSNBC's Mika explains why Stormy Daniels photos are more damning than Access Hollywood tapes
Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough (MSNBC)

A former pornographic actress has suggested she has intimate photos that prove her sexual relationship with President Donald Trump -- and MSNBC's "Morning Joe" explained why those could unravel his presidency.

The president's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, made a possibly illegal $130,000 payment to actress Stormy Daniels shortly before the election, shortly after the "Access Hollywood" tape revealed his boasts about getting away with sexual assault.

"The 'Access Hollywood' tapes, something disgusting the president said in jest, that's baked into the cake, people knew that about Trump, they heard him on Howard Stern," said co-host Mika Brzezinski.

"The allegations against him sexually harassing or assaulting women were allegations, so Trump supporters could say well, they're lying," she continued. "This is beginning to indicate that there was a relationship and that there is evidence to prove that there was a relationship, and that it was a dirty situation with a porn star a year after he was married to his wife and then hush money paid off. If that is all proven out with physical evidence and pictures, this is going to be completely different and it's going to have ramifications across the board."

The pictures could prove damning in a way the "Access Hollywood" tapes were not, according to MSNBC's John Heilemann.

"One of the reasons Trump survived the 'Access Hollywood' tape and all of the women who came forward and accused him, some credibly and some less credibly, of sexual harassment or sexual assault was that there never really was a face that got put to those scandals," Heilemann said.

Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, has sued the president claiming that her non-disclosure agreement is invalid because Trump never signed it -- and the White House claims the president has won an arbitration proceeding to prevent the actress from talking about the alleged affair.

"These scandals, when you have pictures, are just much more daunting than when you don't have pictures and the original 'Access Hollywood' tape, much of it had Donald Trump's disembodied voice," Heilemann said. "It was very offensive, the stuff he said, but in the way the media ecosystem works, if you have someone who is an identifiable person who is on television making the claim over and over again who's sympathetic, who maybe has supporting documentation or photographs, that's a much more dangerous kind of scandal."

Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, reportedly told author Michael Wolff that Trump had paid off "hundreds" of women to keep quiet their sexual relationships -- and Heilemann said Trump-Daniels photos open the floodgates.

"If Stormy Daniels can defy a gag order, can defy a hush settlement, and she comes forward, does that set a precedent for other women coming forward?" he said. "This could become an avalanche if that does work in that way."