Porn Star Stormy Daniels Sues Trump Over ‘Hush Money’

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Porn star Stormy Daniels sued Donald Trump on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming their $130,000 “hush money” contract is invalid because Trump did not sign it.

Represented by Newport Beach attorney Michael Avenatti, Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, signed the agreement under the pseudonym Peggy Peterson.

Trump, whose name is blacked out in the agreement, which is attached as an exhibit to the lawsuit, used the pseudonym David Dennison, according to the 7-page lawsuit with 28 pages of attachments.

Clifford/Daniels also sued Essential Consultants, a Delaware LLC that Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen formed on Oct. 17, 2016, apparently for the sole purpose of paying Clifford $130,000 for silence about her sexual affair with Trump.

The timing of the LLC’s formation is significant. On Oct. 7, 2016, one month before the presidential election, The Washington Post published the now-famous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which candidate Trump bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy.”

“I don’t even wait,” he said. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

“Within days of the publication of the ‘Access Hollywood Tape,’ several women came forward publicly to tell their personal stories about their sexual encounters with Mr. Trump,” Clifford says in the complaint. “Around this time, Ms. Clifford likewise sought to share details concerning her relationship and encounters with Mr. Trump with various media outlets.”

Clifford says she “began an intimate relationship with Mr. Trump in the summer of 2006 in Lake Tahoe and continued her relationship with Mr. Trump well into the year 2007.” On at least one occasion they met in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, according to the complaint.

When Trump heard that Clifford wanted to reveal their affair, he and his attorney Michael 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,” the complaint states. “Mr. Cohen subsequently prepared a draft non-disclosure agreement and presented it to Ms. Clifford and her attorney (the ‘Hush Agreement’).”

The parties to the Hush Agreement were Clifford, Trump and Essential Consultants (EC).

“On information and belief, EC was created by Mr. Cohen with Mr. Trump’s knowledge for one purpose — to hide the true source of funds to be used to pay Ms. Clifford, thus further insulating Mr. Trump from later discovery and scrutiny.”

The complaint then lists the pseudonyms that Clifford (Peterson) and Trump (Dennison) used in the Hush Agreement.

Clifford claims that the Hush Agreement “required the signature of all parties to the agreement, including that of Mr. Trump.”

But Clifford says that only she and Cohen signed the agreement on Oct. 28, 2016, Cohen on behalf of Essential Consultants. Trump did not, “so he could later, if need be, publicly disavow any knowledge of the Hush Agreement and Ms. Clifford,” the complaint states.

Trump’s failure to sign renders the agreement null and void, Clifford says.

After the $130,000 in hush money became public this year, Cohen claimed that he paid the money out of his own pocket, for a sexual affair that he denied had occurred.

“Despite Mr. Trump’s failure to sign the Hush Agreement, Mr. Cohen proceeded to cause $130,000.00 to be wired to the trust account of Ms. Clifford’s attorney,” the complaint states. “He did so even though there was no legal agreement and thus no written nondisclosure agreement whereby Ms. Clifford was restricted from disclosing the truth about Mr. Trump.”

Details of the hush money were widely published in January this year. Whereupon, Clifford says, “Cohen, through intimidation and coercive tactics, forced Ms. Clifford into signing a false statement wherein she stated that reports of her relationship with Mr. Trump were false.”

On Feb. 13, Cohen issued a public statement about the fiasco. Clifford says he did so without her consent — “thus evidencing Mr. Cohen’s apparent position (at least in that context) that no binding agreement was in place.”

The complaint then quotes from Cohen’s public statement: “‘In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms Stephanie Clifford. 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.’ Mr. Cohen concluded his statement with lawyer speak: ‘Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you hard or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump.’ (emphasis added).”

Clifford says that even if the Hush Agreement were valid, which it is not, Cohen breached it by his public statements to the media. And she says he continues to try to intimidate her into silence to protect Trump.

“For example, only days ago on or about February 27, 2018, Mr. Trump’s attorney Mr. Cohen surreptitiously initiated a bogus arbitration proceeding in Los Angeles. Remarkably, he did so without even providing Ms. Clifford with notice of the proceeding and basic due process.”

She adds: “The extent of Mr. Trump’s involvement in these efforts is presently unknown, but it strains credibility to conclude that Mr. Cohen is acting on his own accord without the express approval and knowledge of his client Mr. Trump.”

Finally, Clifford says, because there was no valid agreement, there is “no agreement to arbitrate,” and anything Cohen and/or Trump obtain through arbitration “is of no consequence or effect.”

She seeks declaratory judgment to that effect, and costs of suit.

The lawsuit was entered into the Courthouse News database after office hours Tuesday and Avenatti and Cohen could not be reached for comment.

The Hush Agreement, attached to the complaint, includes details of the $130,000 payment, including the bank name, routing number, and account name and number, and the pseudonyms used.

For example, the “side letter agreement,” dated Oct. 28, 2016, states, inter alia: “It is understood and agreed that the true name and identity of the person referred to as ‘DAVID DENNISON’ in the Settlement Agreement is [REDACTED], and that any reference or designation to DAVID DENNISON shall be deemed that same thing as referring to [REDACTED], by his true name as identified herein.”

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