Porn star sues Trump

Stormy Daniels is suing United States President Donald Trump and asking the court to declare that her non-disclosure agreement before the 2016 election is void because he did not sign it.
Stormy Daniels is suing United States President Donald Trump and asking the court to declare that her non-disclosure agreement before the 2016 election is void because he did not sign it. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • Stormy Daniels, the porn star who says she was paid to keep quiet about her alleged affair with United States President Donald Trump, sued him on Tuesday, asking the court to declare that her non-disclosure agreement before the 2016 election is void because he did not sign it.

In the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Daniels, 38 - whose real name is Stephanie Clifford - said she had wanted to go public with the story of her alleged decade-old affair with Mr Trump, 71, in the weeks leading up to the election.

The lawsuit was first reported by NBC News.

Mr Trump's lawyer, Mr Michael Cohen, and Daniels' attorney at the time, Mr Keith Davidson, negotiated what the lawsuit calls a "hush agreement" in which she would be paid US$130,000 (S$171,000).

After delays and even a cancellation of the contract by Daniels on Oct 17, the payment arrived on Oct 27, 12 days before the election, according to e-mails reviewed by The Washington Post.

According to public records, Mr Cohen formed a limited liability corporation in Delaware that he used to send US$130,000 to Daniels under her real name.

He said recently that he had used his own money to "facilitate" the payment.

The lawsuit suggests that Mr Trump was aware of the agreement and that the money was intended to influence the election's outcome.

That intimation bolsters two complaints filed with the Federal Election Commission that say the payment violated election law because it was not reported as an in-kind campaign donation.

The lawsuit says: "Mr Trump, with the assistance of his attorney, Mr 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."

Mr Cohen has previously denied that the payment breached campaign finance law. But the lawsuit raises new accusations against Mr Cohen, saying that "through intimidation and coercive tactics", he had Daniels this year sign a statement denying the affair.

The suit says Mr Cohen has continued to try to "intimidate" Daniels into keeping quiet in recent weeks as reports about the deal and Daniels' relationship with Mr Trump leaked and Daniels has given television interviews.

Mr Cohen did not respond on Tuesday to a request for comment. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday evening.

The complaint, filed under Daniels' real name, says Mr Trump deliberately did not sign the deal so that he could later disavow knowledge of it. A person familiar with the deal said it required the signature of Mr Cohen or Mr Trump, but not both.

The person described Daniels' decision, to sue 16 months after she was paid, as "buyer's remorse".

Mr Cohen has previously said Mr Trump has denied an affair with Daniels. She has said the affair took place soon after Mr Trump's wife, Melania, gave birth to the couple's son, Barron.

Tuesday's lawsuit reiterated that timeline, saying Daniels and Mr Trump began an "intimate relationship" in the summer of 2006 and it continued "well into" 2007.

The lawsuit also made public for the first time the onerous terms of the full two-part contract, which Daniels signed on Oct 28, 2016 - days before the presidential election.

The agreement required her to pay at least US$1 million should she violate it, and to resolve any disputes related to the contract through binding confidential arbitration.

The lines for the signatures of David Dennison - a pseudonym for Mr Trump, according to the complaint - were blank on the copies of the contracts attached to the court filing.

The lawyer who represented Daniels in the 2016 negotiations, Mr Keith M. Davidson, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He also represented Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who received a US$150,000 payment in August 2016 that prevented her from going public with her own allegations of an affair with Mr Trump.

WASHINGTON POST, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2018, with the headline 'Porn star sues Trump'. Print Edition | Subscribe