Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, aka Storm Daniels, must really have something President Donald Trump doesn’t want publicly disclosed. Trump’s legal team is conducting a full–on assault against Daniels ahead of an upcoming broadcast with Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, on CBS’ 60 Minutes.
In court filings on Friday, Trump officially joined a legal response to a lawsuit by Daniels seeking to annul a nondisclosure agreement preventing her from talking about her alleged affair with Trump. This action should remove any doubt that Trump officials and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, previously had tried to promote by claiming that Trump was unaware of a $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels a month before the 2016 election, and that the president did not have a months–long affair with the porn actress a year after he married first lady Melania Trump.
In Friday’s court filings, Trump’s lawyers claim that Daniels violated the confidentiality agreement at least 20 times and that she could be liable for $20 million in damages, The New York Times reported. In the same filings, Trump’s legal team sought to move the case from a Los Angeles–based state court to a federal court.
According to the Times, “Federal courts have applied that law [the Federal Arbitration Act] more strictly than state courts, particularly ones in California. Mr. Trump may be hoping that his chances of keeping the dispute in arbitration and out of public view are better before a federal judge than a state one.”
Avenatti has been fighting back hard during various news media appearances and on social media. On Friday, Avenatti tweeted: “The fact that a sitting president is pursuing over $20M in bogus ‘damages’ against a private citizen, who is only trying to tell the public what really happened, is remarkable. Likely unprecedented in our history. We are NOT going away and we will NOT be intimidated. #basta.” “Basta” is Spanish for “enough.”
Avenatti also announced that Daniels has started a crowdfunding campaign to help pay her legal bills. “I am attempting to speak honestly and openly to the American people about my relationship with now President Donald Trump, as well as the intimidation and tactics that he, together with his attorney Michael Cohen, have used to silence me,” Daniels said of the initiative.
As of this writing, nearly 7,000 people had donated more than $200,000.
Also on Friday, Avenatti told the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe that someone involved with Trump’s team had threatened physical harm against Daniels in an attempt to silence her. Avenatti would not say who made the threat or provide any further details about it.
Speaking on CNN’s New Day on Friday morning, Avenatti dropped another potential bombshell by claiming that six other women have contacted him to say that they, too, had sexual relationships with Trump. At least two of the women said they had signed nondisclosure agreements similar to that of Ms. Daniels, CNN reported.
Avenatti repeated the claim on Saturday morning in an appearance on MSNBC’s AM Joy with Joy Reid, although he stressed that his team was working on verifying the claims, and that he may or may not legally represent some of the women.
He also went after Cohen, who Avenatti says has stayed out of the public eye in the past couple of weeks, dodging tough questions raised by Avenatti and several journalists.
I want to go back to something that was said relating to Mr. Cohen and what was just stated relating to some of the threats and the tactics that he’s used in litigation. That has no place in any case in the United States, I don’t care how big or how small. No attorney should ever conduct themselves in that manner. And if he conducts himself in that manner in this case, he’s gonna get his ticket stamped. Because he’s not dealing with some two–bit lawyer from down the street. We’re gonna be as aggressive as we possibly can, but we’re gonna be smart. But we’re not gonna tolerate any nonsense with threats and bullying tactics. They will go nowhere with me and my client. And if they think that they will, they haven’t been paying attention in the last two weeks.
The 60 Minutes interview with Daniels and Avenatti is tentatively scheduled to air on March 25.