LOS ANGELES (CN) – Attorneys for President Donald Trump want adult film star Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit to dissolve a hush agreement about an alleged affair removed to federal court, claiming Daniels owes at least $20 million already for violating the agreement.
Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump last week in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming a $130,000 “hush-money” contract is invalid because the president did not sign it. According to Clifford, the agreement bars her from discussing her alleged affair with Trump.
Clifford says when Trump heard she wanted to reveal their affair to the media, 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 nondisclosure agreement and presented it to Ms. Clifford and her attorney.”
Trump, whose name is blacked out in the agreement, used the pseudonym David Dennison and Clifford is listed as Peggy Peterson, according to the 7-page lawsuit with 28 pages of attachments – including the agreement.
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.
Daniels also sued Essential Consultants, a Delaware limited liability company formed by Cohen on Oct. 17, 2016, apparently for the sole purpose of paying Clifford $130,000 for her silence.
Shortly after filing her lawsuit Clifford’s attorney, Newport Beach attorney Michael Avenatti. offered to drop the complaint and return the $130,000 Clifford received if Trump dissolved the hush agreement. Neither Cohen nor Trump responded to the offer.
But on Friday, Trump attorney Brent Blakely filed to remove the lawsuit to federal court, joining Trump as a defendant “aka David Dennison.” The reason? The amount in controversy now far exceeds state-court maximums because, the removal request says, Clifford owes Trump $1 million for each of the more than 20 times she’s violated the hush agreement.
According to the filing, Clifford and her attorney were aware of an arbitration agreement to resolve any claims or controversies between Clifford and Trump. On Feb. 22, 2018, Trump’s team launched arbitration proceedings and informed Clifford she had “breached the confidentiality provisions of the settlement agreement numerous times.”
But rather than submit to arbitration, Trump’s team says, Clifford filed her lawsuit and subsequent demand for $130,000.
Trump’s team says they will follow up the removal request with a demand to compel arbitration.
Clifford’s attorney told Courthouse News that Trump’s move was “truly remarkable.”
“This is simply more of the same bullying tactics from the president and Mr. Cohen,” Avenatti wrote. "They are now attempting to remove this case in order to increase their chances that the matter will ultimately be decided in private arbitration, behind closed doors, outside of public view and scrutiny. To put it simply – they want to hide the truth from the American people. We will oppose this effort at every turn.
“The fact that a sitting president is pursuing over $20 million in bogus 'damages' against a private citizen, who is only trying to tell the public what really happened, is truly remarkable,” he continued. “Likely unprecedented in our history. We are not going away and we will not be intimidated by these threats.”