Daniels files suit against Trump in LA federal court
City News Service | 3/30/2018, midnight
Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels filed a defamation suit in Los Angeles federal court this week against President Donald Trump and his personal attorney, alleging they “aggressively’’ sought to intimidate her into silence.
The 41-page complaint expands an earlier lawsuit Daniels had already filed, adding the defamation claim and including Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen as a defendant.
The lawsuit comes a day after a “60 Minutes’’ interview in which Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, described a brief affair she alleges she had with Trump more than a decade ago before he ran for president. Daniels said she had unprotected sex with Trump in 2006 and was later threatened for telling her story.
Trump has not directly addressed Daniels’ allegations. However, early Monday, Trump posted a cryptic tweet: “So much Fake News. Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate.’’ White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for her part, has denied that Trump had an affair with Daniels.
Daniels initially filed suit on March 6, alleging Trump never signed a “hush agreement’’ over their alleged affair, rendering the nondisclosure agreement “legally null and void.’’ Daniels contends that she received $130,000 for her silence, but claims the agreement is invalid because of the missing signature.
In response to that lawsuit, Cohen filed papers alleging he could seek as much as $20 million from the actress for breaches of the nondisclosure agreement.
The expanded suit alleges that both Trump and Cohen “aggressively sought to silence Ms. Clifford as part of an effort to avoid her telling the truth, thus helping to ensure he won the presidential election.’’
Daniels’ Newport Beach-based lawyer, Michael Avenatti, wrote that the nondisclosure agreement “was entered with the illegal aim, design and purpose of circumventing federal campaign finance law."
The suit’s defamation allegations stem from statements Cohen made in February suggesting Daniels "is a liar, someone who should not be trusted,’’ and that her claims about a relationship with Trump are lies, according to the complaint.
As a result of the statement, Cohen exposed Daniels to “hatred, contempt, ridicule and shame, and discouraged others from associating or dealing with her,’’ Avenatti contends in the suit, which seeks punitive damages “in an amount to be proven at trial.’’
Daniels’ lawsuit, originally filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, was transferred last week to federal court in downtown Los Angeles.
Also last week, a former Playboy model filed suit in Los Angeles seeking to nullify a 2016 agreement she says is preventing her from discussing an alleged affair she had with Trump before his presidency, around the same time Daniels claims she was involved with Trump.
According to the lawsuit, Karen McDougal contends she was misled into signing the 2016 agreement with American Media Inc., the parent company of The National Enquirer. AMI is controlled by David Pecker, a friend and supporter of Trump.
The lawsuit contends that AMI paid McDougal $150,000 for exclusive rights to her story for the purpose of keeping it out of the public eye—a practice known as “catch and kill’’—to protect Trump. According to her lawsuit, McDougal had a 10-month relationship with Trump in 2006-07.