Back in 2006, Donald Trump allegedly had an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels. We know this because Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged a payment to Daniels for $130,000, in order to keep the affair quiet.
What we know:
- Trump allegedly had an affair with Stormy Daniels while married to Melania, shortly after their son Barron was born
- Trump attorney Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about the relationship
- The Wall Street Journal uncovered the agreement, suggesting Trump might have broken campaign laws with the payment
- Once the agreement came to light, Daniels sued to invalidate the agreement, because Trump hadn’t signed it
- Cohen has since filed for a restraining order, preventing Daniels from discussing the matter further
- Daniels has offered to return the $130,000 payment, in order to allow her to speak freely
- Multiple people have offered to pay Daniels’ $1 million fine if she speaks
Trump’s affair with Daniels started just a month after Melania gave birth to their son Barron. But the ‘hush agreement” did little to keep the affair from the First Lady, and it didn’t take Daniels talking to reveal the details.
Melania got to find out like the rest of us, by reading about the details or seeing it on TV.
Since the news broke in January, Melania has been visibly cold to Trump, barely even acknowledging their marriage, and avoiding him as often as possible.
Maybe they should have just let Daniels tell her privately.
The attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels told NBC’s “Today” on Wednesday that his client had a sexual relationship with Donald Trump and is looking to disclose the truth about the encounter.
In an interview with Savannah Guthrie, attorney Michael Avenatti responded “yes” when asked whether his client had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006, whose youngest son, Barron Trump, was born the same year.
“She’s looking to disclose the truth about what happened,” Avenatti said. “At this point, in light of the amount of misinformation that Mr. Cohen has put out there to The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and others, I think it’s time for her to tell her story and for the public to decide who’s telling the truth.”
“Did she [Daniels] have a sexual relationship with the President?” –@savannahguthrie
“Yes.” – Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer pic.twitter.com/Io50QRPCvT
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) March 7, 2018
Avenatti went on to add that Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is free to talk about the encounter because Trump refused to sign a nondisclosure agreement orchestrated by his lawyer, Michael Cohen, in order to later claim deniability.
“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,” he said, adding that it was “highly questionable” that Cohen himself paid the $130,000 agreed upon to Daniels.
“We think it’s highly questionable as to whether it came from his personal funds,” Avenatti said. “The idea that an attorney would go off on his own, without his client’s knowledge, engage in this type of negotiation, and enter in this type of agreement quite honestly I think is ludicrous.”
Daniels’s accusations have raised complaints from watchdog groups who say Cohen’s payment to the porn star violated campaign finance laws, claiming the funds came from Trump’s campaign. Republican lawyers have largely dismissed those claims.
Cohen previously acknowledged the $130,000 payout to Daniels but has claimed that the funds came entirely from his personal account.
In the now public non-disclosure agreement that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen forced Daniels to sign, and gave her $130,000 in hush money, Cohen included a clause that prohibited Daniels from ever contacting a member of Trump’s family “for any reason.” And if she did, she would “be obligated to pay, and agree to pay to [Trump] the sum of One-Million Dollars.”
But the entire NDA might not be binding anyway, as Trump never signed it.
Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, shared the suit via Twitter: “Earlier today, we filed this complaint seeking a ct order voiding the alleged ‘hush’ agreement between our client S. Clifford aka Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump.”
Earlier today, we filed this complaint seeking a ct order voiding the alleged “hush” agreement between our client S. Clifford aka Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump. https://t.co/upa9u10MqR
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 7, 2018
Even just last week, Cohen was trying to intimidate Daniels. But the porn star isn’t backing down.
“To be clear, the attempts to intimidate Ms. Clifford into silence and ‘shut her up’ in order to ‘protect Mr. Trump’ continue unabated,” the suit states.
The clause to prevent Daniels from talking to Trump’s family is undoubtedly aimed at one person: First Lady Melania Trump.
Daniels’ suit alleges that her agreement not to disclose her “intimate” relationship with Trump is not valid because while both Daniels and Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen signed it, Trump never did.
Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, signed both the agreement and a side letter agreement using her professional name on October 28, 2016, just days before the 2016 presidential election. Cohen signed the document the same day.
The “hush agreement,” as it’s called in the suit, refers to Trump throughout as David Dennison, and Clifford as Peggy Peterson. The side letter agreement reveals the true identities of the parties as Clifford and Trump.
Each document includes a blank where “DD” is supposed to sign, but neither blank is signed.
According to the lawsuit, Clifford and Trump had an intimate relationship that lasted from summer 2006 “well into the year 2007.” The relationship allegedly included meetings in Lake Tahoe and at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
The 2016 hush agreement directed that $130,000 be paid into the trust account of Clifford’s then-attorney. In return, Clifford was not to disclose any confidential information about Trump or his sexual partners to anyone beyond a short list of individuals she’d already told about the relationship, or share any texts or photos from Trump.
The suit alleges that Cohen has tried to keep Clifford from talking about the relationship as recently as Feb. 27, 2018.
“To be clear, the attempts to intimidate Ms. Clifford into silence and ‘shut her up’ in order to ‘protect Mr. Trump’ continue unabated,” says the suit. “On or about February 27, 2018, Mr. Trump’s attorney Mr. Cohen surreptitiously initiated a bogus arbitration proceeding against Ms. Clifford in Los Angeles.” Binding arbitration is specified as a means of dispute resolution.
In the Non-Disclosure Agreement that Stormy Daniels’ attorney released online, it states that Daniels must never discuss several aspects of her relationship with President Donald Trump, such as “sexual partners, alleged sexual actions or alleged sexual conduct, related matters,” and one that is starting to get people’s attention, “paternity information.”
There are three possibilities for the inclusion of that phrase. The first is that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen was careless when he wrote the legal agreement. Considering that the entire world ended up learning about the affair and all the details anyway, that’s not too much of a stretch.
The second is that Barron Trump has a little half-brother or sister walking around somewhere (well, he might anyway). Daniels does have a daughter who was born in January 2011, a few years after her affair with Trump. So, unless she’s been hiding another kid since 2006, this is highly unlikely.
The third possibility is one that could end Trump’s support from Conservative Christians, and it might be the most likely. Stormy Daniels had an abortion.
This could also answer the question of “Why Daniels?” A lot of women have said that they have either had affairs with Trump, or that Trump sexually harassed them in some way. But just a few weeks before the election, Cohen suddenly felt the need to give this one woman, out of all of them, $130,000 in hush money?
Meanwhile, Daniels claims that she has quite a lot of information, including pictures and texts, which could be very damaging to Trump. Cohen is trying desperately to keep her quiet, but since Trump never actually signed the NDA, there might not be much he can do.
Eventually, Daniels will probably tell her full story, and Trump better hope that Cohen was just a lousy lawyer and included a provision that didn’t need to be there. Otherwise, he’ll be begging the press to cover his campaign colluding with Russia just to distract people from the secret abortion.
On Monday, Daniels’ attorney made an offer to Trump that she would return the $130,000 paid to her, if it would allow her to speak freely about their relationship. There’s just one catch: The artist formally known as Stephanie Clifford wants to be able to tell her story — including on CBS’ 60 Minutes.
The offer expires Friday, after which it “shall automatically be deemed withdrawn in its entirety and shall be null and void.”
The letter offering the return of the $130,000 said:
“Upon receipt of the $130,000.00, the Confidential Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release … shall both be deemed null and void in their entirety , thus permitting Ms. Clifford to (a) speak openly and freely about her prior relationship with the President and the attempts to silence her and (b) use and publish any text messages, photos and/or videos relating to the President that she may have in her possession , all without fear of retribution and/or legal liability for damages.”
However, even if the agreement isn’t nullified, Daniels might still be able to talk. According to Daniels’ attorney, at least 10 people have offered to cover the $1 million penalty she would be subject to for breaking her nondisclosure agreement regarding her alleged affair with President Trump.
Daniels’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told CNN’s Michael Smerconish that no California court would enforce the $1 million penalty for “every episode that she goes out and speaks in violation of the confidentiality.”
Asked if anyone has offered to pay her penalty to allow her to tell her story, Avenatti said “at least 10 individuals in the last three days alone” have offered.
He noted that Daniels is not considering any of the offers at the moment.