“We have substantial evidence and facts that were not included in the complaint,” Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s lawyer, said on CNN’s “New Day.”
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Daniels says that just days before the 2016 presidential election, Trump and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, attempted to silence her by having her enter into a nondisclosure agreement to prevent her from coming forward and talking about the year-long sexual relationship she says had with Trump beginning in 2006. In return, Daniels was paid $130,000 — a payment Cohen says he facilitated.
“I am confident that when that evidence and those facts come to light, the American people are going to conclude that attorney Cohen and the White House have not shot straight with them on this issue,” Avenatti said.
Cohen has said that Trump was unaware of the payment to Daniels, and that he negotiated the agreement on his own to protect the then-Republican nominee — a claim Avenatti called “absolutely laughable.”
“We’re going to prove that Mr. Cohen is not telling the truth about that,” Avenatti said. “We’re going to be able to obtain discovery and documents and testimony that is going to show, I am highly confident, that Mr. Trump knew exactly what was going on.”
Cohen, Avenatti argued, had “ethical obligations as a licensed attorney in New York” to keep Trump informed “at all times.”
“Mr. Cohen wants the American people to believe that he ran off half-cocked, negotiating a very detailed agreement with a signature line for his client, arranged this payment, made this payment in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election, and that all the time his client was in the dark,” Avenatti said. “It’s laughable. It’s absurd. And the mere suggestion is an insult to the American people.”
In the suit, Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, seeks to void the agreement because it was allegedly never signed by Trump.
“It was not signed. There was no deal,” Avenatti said on CNN. “We believe there was a reason it wasn’t signed — namely so Donald Trump would have deniability.”
In suit, Daniels states that she had an “intimate relationship” with Trump beginning in 2006 that lasted about a year. At the time, Trump had been married to his wife, Melania, for less than two years.
On NBC’s “Today” show this week, Avenatti was asked if Daniels had a sexual relationship with the president.
“Yes,” Avenatti replied. Daniels herself has not publicly affirmed the alleged relationship since it was first reported in January.
On CNN, Avenatti was asked why Daniels initially denied the affair.
“I think when she’s allowed to speak openly, and the American people hear her explanation, they’re going to judge for themselves whether she’s credible,” he said.
The public explanation may be coming soon. On Wednesday night, Anderson Cooper sat down with Daniels and Avenatti for an interview that will be broadcast on an episode of CBS’s “60 Minutes,” the network said.
On Thursday afternoon, Avenatti tweeted a picture of himself with Daniels and Cooper.
CNN said that the “60 Minutes” sitdown will air Sunday.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 8, 2018
Avenatti was also asked why, even if everything he says is true, the public should care about a decade-old affair.
“Because coverups matter,” he said. “You have attorney Cohen claiming Donald Trump never knew anything about this. You have the White House claiming Donald Trump never knew anything about his. That’s going to be shown to be patently false.”
Meanwhile, Democratic Reps. Ted Lieu and Kathleen Rice are calling for an FBI investigation into what they describe as the Trump Organization’s “hush money” payments to both Daniels and Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate. Payments to influence an election outcome might be considered in-kind campaign contributions — and, if not disclosed in public reports, could constitute a violation of federal election laws.
“As members of Congress, we are troubled by these payments because they are evidence of moral failings of the president,” Lieu and Rice wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray. “As former prosecutors, we believe these payments may be felonies.”
Read a full copy of the lawsuit filed by Daniels below:
(Cover tile photos: Leah Millis/Reuters, Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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