Former adult actress Stormy Daniels is suing President Donald Trump, alleging that the "hush money" agreement arranged by his lawyer during the 2016 presidential election was never signed by the Trump himself. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims that the non-disclosure agreement she entered in exchange for her silence about their alleged extramarital affair is therefore invalid.
In October 2016, soon after the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,ooo to Daniels so she would keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump a decade before. The agreement she signed precluded her from disclosing information about the affair, which she had extensively discussed in a 2011 InTouch interview. It also banned her from disclosing texts, photos or any information about Trump or his sexual partners to anyone beyond the few individuals that she'd already told about the affair.
Cohen confirmed to the New York Times that he paid Daniels out of his own pocket, denying he was reimbursed by the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign for the payment. (However, he also complained to friends that he was not reimbursed, according to The Wall Street Journal.)
According to the legal complaint Daniels filed in California state court on Tuesday, Cohen was the one to sign the agreement — not President Trump.
"Despite Mr. Trump's failure to sign the Hush Agreement, Mr. Cohen proceeded to cause $130,000.00 to be wired to the trust account of Ms. Clifford's attorney. He did so even though there was no legal agreement and thus no written nondisclosure agreement whereby Ms. Clifford was restricted from disclosing the truth about Mr. Trump," the document states.
The lawsuit also alleges that Cohen tried to intimidate Clifford in order to stop her from talking about the affair as recently as late last month.
"To be clear, the attempts to intimidate Ms. Clifford into silence and 'shut her up' in order to 'protect Mr. Trump' continue unabated," says the suit. "On or about February 27, 2018, Mr. Trump's attorney Mr. Cohen surreptitiously initiated a bogus arbitration proceeding against Ms. Clifford in Los Angeles." Binding arbitration is specified as a means of dispute resolution.
In an interview on NBC's Today show Wednesday, Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti confirmed she has had a sexual relationship with the president. At one time, Daniels had denied the affair. Avenatti said that she did so because she was being pressured to keep silent. He added that he believes Trump knew about the $130,000 payment Daniels received on October 2016.
"There's no question the president knew about it at the time," Avenatti said. "The idea that an attorney would go off on his own, without his client's knowledge and engage in this type of negotiation and enter into this type of agreement, quite honestly I think is ludicrous."
When asked why Daniels was bringing on a legal challenge, her lawyer said that she wanted "tell her story." This is something her manager Gina Rodriguez also said in mid-February.
"She believes it's important that the public learn the truth about what happened," Avenatti said. "I think it's time for her to tell her story and for the public to decide who is telling the truth."
In mid-February, The New Yorker detailed how Trump allegedly had yet another extramarital relationship around the same period he was involved Daniels. At the time, he had just married first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron was just a few months old.
According to The New Yorker, Trump was involved with former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal for about nine months. And like with Daniels, his close associates allegedly went to extreme lengths to conceal the affair during the 2016 presidential election.
The president, who has been known as a well-known philanderer most of his life, denies the affairs.