WASHINGTON — The attorney for Stephanie Clifford, the adult film star known as Stormy Daniels, says he believes she’s “free to talk” about her relationship with Donald Trump. She filed a lawsuit against Trump to declare a $130,000 pre-election “hush” agreement null and void.
“Mr. Trump did not sign. We believe that that was so that he could later claim deniability, and therefore, from a legal perspective, we believe she’s free to talk,” Michael Avenatti, Clifford’s attorney, said on NBC’s “Today,” adding that his client “may have to” return the money if they win in court.
The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. It claims that the line for Trump’s signature, to be made under a pseudonym, David Dennison, is left blank. Clifford also signed under a different name, Peggy Peterson.
The agreement was entered into on Oct. 28, 2016, the week before the election, according to the lawsuit, which Avenatti’s firm posted online.
Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and a White House spokesman did not immediately comment.
In January, the Wall Street Journal first reported that Michael Cohen, Trump’s attorney, arranged a $130,000 payment to Clifford to not discuss the alleged affair. But In Touch magazine then published an interview with Clifford, conducted in 2011, where she provided some of the details.
She also denied an affair with Trump in a statement, saying it “never happened,” and in an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
But her lawsuit claims that she and Trump had an “intimate relationship” starting in 2006 and going into 2007. It claims that Cohen created and LLC, Essential Consultants, to hide “the true source of funds” to pay her. It also claims that Cohen, “through intimidation and coercive tactics,” forced Clifford into signing a “false statement” in which she claimed that reports of an affair were false.
Cohen issued a statement to the New York Times in February in which he said he used his personal funds to make the payment. But Clifford, in her lawsuit, contends that he did this without her consent, evidence that Cohen’s position is that “no binding agreement is in place.” It also claims that Cohen “surreptitiously initiated” a “bogus arbitration proceeding” against Clifford late last month.
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