MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell set off a Twitter firestorm when he asked President Trump on Thursday: “Mr. President, why does your confidentiality agreement with Stormy Daniels forbid her to reveal “PATERNITY INFORMATION”?
O’Donnell was correct that the non-disclosure agreement, which Daniels released Tuesday when she sued Trump, mentions that she can not disclose “paternity information.” She is also barred from discussing “alleged children.” That led to online speculation that Trump may have been trying to hide a love child.
But Daniels lawyer, Michael J. Avenatti, told TheWrap on Friday that the references were simply “boilerplate language” common to NDAs.
Asked directly if Trump ever impregnated Daniels, or if she knew of any other children he was trying to conceal from the public eye, Avenatti replied: “Absolutely not. No.”
Here is the O’Donnell tweet that spawned all of the ill-founded speculation that Trump had impregnated Daniels:
Mr. President, why does your confidentiality agreement with Stormy Daniels forbid her to reveal "PATERNITY INFORMATION"?
— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) March 8, 2018
It has, as of this writing, been retweeted 25,000 times — including by O’Donnell’s fellow MSNBC host, Joy Reid.
O’Donnell helped fuel jokes around the speculation, retweeting someone who joked about one of President Trump’s adult children: “So Eric Trump is secretly a 12 year old? Makes sense.”
So Eric Trump is secretly a 12 year old? Makes sense. https://t.co/lvb6p1t7Fc
— Adam McKay (@GhostPanther) March 9, 2018
O’Donnell wasn’t alone in wondering about the references to “paternity” and “alleged children.” In a New York Times op-ed, Michelle Goldberg wrote:
Should Daniels prevail in court, we might learn interesting information about the president. Among other things, the NDA forbids her from discussing Trump’s “alleged children” or “paternity information.” But the scandal will lie less in the details of Trump’s degeneracy than in the steps he and his lawyers took to cover it up.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, filed a civil suit against the president in Los Angeles Superior Court this week, claiming that her hush agreement with Trump was null and void because the president never signed the nondisclosure agreement set up right before the 2016 presidential election.
Clifford also argued that even if the NDA was signed, it’s no longer valid because Trump attorney Michael Cohen spoke publicly about the secret agreement and payment, which she claims is a breach of the the agreement’s confidentiality clause.
As The Wall Street Journal first reported in January, Daniels received a $130,000 payout to remain silent about an affair she says she had with Trump. Cohen has said he made the payment himself, not acting on behalf of the president, but NBC News reported Friday that he emailed her from a Trump Organization email account.
Here are a few tweets joking about the false speculation that Daniels accused Trump of fathering a love child:
— SpinDoctor (@SpinDr) March 8, 2018
— Somebody (@ms40237) March 8, 2018
Jeezus Creepin' Christ, please tell me there aren't MORE little Shitgibbons running around out there loose.
— soddruntlestuntle (@teddsorenson) March 8, 2018