Porn star Stormy Daniels filed a fresh lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen Monday, accusing him of deliberately subjecting her to “hatred” and “shame.”
Daniels’ latest legal challenge came on the heels of her explosive “60 Minutes” interview, during which she went into extensive and at times embarrassing detail about her alleged affair with Trump.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal California court and obtained by the Daily News, charges that Cohen issued a “defamatory” and “false” statement last month about Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.
“Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump,” Cohen’s Feb. 13 statement read in part.
Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, argued that the statement constitutes defamation because Cohen deliberately tried to portray his client as a “liar” and “someone who should not be trusted.”
“Mr. Cohen’s statement exposed Ms. Clifford to hatred, contempt, ridicule and shame, and discouraged others from associating or dealing with her,” Avenatti charged.
Avenatti also alleged that Daniels, 39, has faced “physical threats of violence” as a consequence. The attorney said Cohen should pay hefty damages to his client for the alleged slander.
But there might be another motive for Daniels’ latest suit, according to experts.
Brooklyn Law School professor Minna Kotkin said that the suit could be a strategic move on Avenatti’s part, as it ensures the longevity of Daniels’ case.
“Even if Cohen and Trump get the original case dismissed, this is a separate claim. This can stand on its own,” Kotkin told The News. “It keeps it in the press, it keeps the momentum going.”
Neither Cohen nor his counsel, Brent Blakely, returned requests for comment.
Daniels is already battling Trump in court over a nondisclosure agreement about their affair that she says should be nulled because he never signed it. The affair, which has dominated headlines for weeks, started just a few weeks after first lady Melania gave birth to Trump’s youngest son, Barron, according to court records.
Cohen admitted last month that he paid Daniels $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election in exchange for her silence, but has refused to explain why or whether Trump ever reimbursed him. Trump could have violated campaign finance laws if he in any way coordinated the payment.
Daniels’ “60 Minutes” interview with correspondent Anderson Cooper took TV viewers for a wild ride Sunday night.
The X-rated actress revealed that she once spanked Trump with a magazine featuring his face on the cover, and that he once compared her to his daughter Ivanka before sex.
In addition to such bizarre details, Daniels alleged that a mystery man threatened to hurt her and her baby daughter if she didn’t stop speaking publically about her affair with Trump. The disturbing encounter occurred outside a Las Vegas gym after Daniels had spoken to a gossip magazine in 2011 about her relationship with Trump.
Blakely, Cohen’s lawyer, fired off a letter to Avenatti immediately after the “60 Minutes” episode aired, demanding a retraction and an apology.
Blakely also claimed Cohen had nothing to do with any threats against Daniels.
“In truth, Mr. Cohen had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any such person or incident, and does not even believe that any such person exists, or that such incident ever occurred,” Blakely wrote.
Trump — who has been accused of sexual misconduct by nearly two dozen women — was allegedly sleeping with a second woman, ex-Playboy playmate Karen McDougal, at the same time as he was involved with Daniels.
Even though Trump has yet to personally address Daniels’ claims, White House spokesman Raj Shah said Monday that the president has “consistently denied these allegations.”
“The president doesn’t believe any of the claims that Ms. Daniels made last night in the interview are accurate,” Shah told reporters.
Shah also tried to downplay Trump’s penchant for paying people to keep quiet.
“False charges are settled out of court all the time,” he said. “This is nothing outside of the ordinary.”
But Avenatti rebuked that argument, saying that people who have nothing to hide don’t need to pay people to keep silent.
“This is about the extent that Mr. Cohen and the president have gone to intimidate this woman, to silence her, to threaten her and to put her under their thumb,” Avenatti said Sunday. “It is thuggish behavior from people in power. And it has no place in American democracy.”
Sources told The Washington Post last week that Trump made his senior White House aides sign similar agreements before they officially came onboard. The staffers can reportedly face stiff fines if they violate the contracts, which extend well beyond their possible tenure at the White House.
Trump has not shied away from pouncing on anyone who he believes to be in violation of an NDA.
Cohen filed a motion earlier this month arguing that Daniels owes him and Trump $20 million for violating their hush agreement “at least” 20 times. Legal experts have expressed doubt about whether that claim would hold up in court, since the NDA lacks Trump’s signature.
Kotkin, the Brooklyn Law School professor, said it’s unlikely Trump and Cohen will be able to cash in on the contract.
“It’s simply not well drafted,” Kotkin said.
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