Porn actress sues to end silence on alleged Trump affair
By MICHAEL BALSAMO and CATHERINE LUCEY
Mar. 08, 2018
LOS ANGELES (AP) — An adult film actress who has said she had sex with Donald Trump filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement and "set the record straight," her lawyer said Wednesday.
Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday. She alleges that the agreement she signed days before the 2016 presidential election, which prevented her from discussing the alleged sexual encounters, is "null and void and of no consequence" because Trump didn't personally sign it.
Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said on morning news shows Wednesday that she wants "to set the record straight." He said on NBC there was "no question" Trump knew about the agreement, though he did not offer any proof.
Avenatti said Clifford wasn't looking to profit from her story. But he told CBS: "I don't know whether she's going to ultimately seek payment or not."
Clifford initially claimed she had sex with Trump once and then carried on a subsequent yearslong platonic relationship.
But the lawsuit filed Tuesday refers to her beginning an "intimate relationship" with Trump in 2006 that continued "well into the year 2007." She said the relationship included encounters in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and Beverly Hills, California. Trump married his current wife, Melania Trump, in 2005.
She also has also previously denied through a lawyer that the two had an affair, but Avenatti said Wednesday that was to meet the terms of the nondisclosure agreement. Trump's attorney Michael Cohen has denied there was ever an affair.
Cohen has said he paid the porn actress $130,000 out of his own pocket as part of the agreement. He has also said that "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."
The lawsuit charges that the Oct. 28, 2016, "hush agreement" is legally invalid because it was only signed by Clifford and Cohen. The agreement refers to Trump as David Dennison and Clifford as Peggy Peterson, but an attached exhibit details their true identities.
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump has "made very well clear that none of these allegations are true."
"The president has denied the allegations against him and again this case has already been won in arbitration," Sanders said.
Sanders declined to elaborate and referred additional questions to Cohen, who did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday and Wednesday.
An arbitrator in California issued a temporary restraining order last week that barred Clifford from disclosing any confidential information tied to the nondisclosure agreement or details about the arbitration hearing, according to a copy of the order that was obtained by NBC News.
Clifford's lawsuit alleges that Cohen had "surreptitiously initiated a bogus arbitration proceeding" against Clifford and within the last week used an "improper and procedurally defective arbitration proceeding hidden from public view."
The suit also charges that Trump and Cohen "aggressively sought to silence Ms. Clifford as part of an effort to avoid her telling the truth, thus helping to ensure he won the Presidential Election."
"To be clear, the attempts to intimidate Ms. Clifford into silence and 'shut her up' in order to 'protect Mr. Trump' continue unabated," the lawsuit said. Clifford alleges that as recently as last week, Trump's attorney tried to initiate an arbitration proceeding against her.
Lucey reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.