In what is sure to be remembered as one of the most infamous presidential affairs in U.S. history, adult film actress Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford), who allegedly had an affair with President Donald Trump over a decade ago, is suing the president over a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, admitted on NBC’s Today that Daniels did have sex with Trump and that he knew she was paid $130,000 in “hush money” before the 2016 presidential election. She’s suing Trump to have the NDA she signed thrown out because the president never signed it.
Avenatti noted that Daniels may have to return the $130,000, and that his client asserts that President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen has continuously attempted to block her from speaking about the relationship, which began just after Melania Trump gave birth to the couples’ son Barron in 2006.
Cohen was reportedly the person who paid for Daniels’ silence out of his own pocket, and Avenatti asserts that Daniels is fully prepared to return the payment.
Cohen confirmed with The New York Times that he had paid Daniels, adding that she was free to “tell her story” because the fact that he discussed the agreement in fact served to invalidate it.
Avenatti retorted, “We think it’s highly questionable as to whether it came from his personal funds… there’s no question the president knew about it at the time.” He added that the thought of an attorney engaging in this type of negotiation and entering into this type of agreement without his clients’ knowledge was “ludicrous.”
Avenatti went on to explain that the amount of public misinformation about the affair has led Daniels to reveal the truth about what really happened between her and President Trump. He is asking the Los Angeles court, where papers were filed, to declare the agreement as never formed because Trump never signed them and they were, as a result, “invalid, unenforceable, and/or void under the doctrine of unconscionability.”
The “hush agreement” not only indicated the $130,000 payout, but that it was in exchange for not disclosing any information about Trump or his intimate partners, including texts and images.
The current lawsuit also brings to light the allegations that Cohen feared that details about the affair would be aired. It’s alleged that he intimidated Daniels into “signing a false statement wherein she stated that reports of her relationship with Mr. Trump were false.”
Despite the swirling rumors and controversy, President Trump and the White House have not publicly addressed the relationship or the overall scandal. In recent public appearances, Melania Trump has thwarted the president’s attempts at holding her hand, and she has traveled separately to events in the wake of the breaking news of the affair.
Although Cohen has spoken about the payment, he has not answered questions about Trump’s knowledge of his making the payment or why it was made. He told The New York Times, “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” and added that it was a lawful payment and that it was not a campaign contribution or expenditure.
Principal Deputy Press Secretary and Deputy Assistant to the President Raj Shah conveyed to journalists that he has never asked the president about the affair, and the White House has in fact denied it ever happened.