Stormy Daniels sues Trump over hush pact
Los Angeles: Donald J. Trump never signed the non-disclosure agreement lawyers had presented in 2016 to a pornographic-film actress, rendering it null and void, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday by a lawyer for the actress.
The filing, in Los Angeles Superior Court, represents the latest development in a legal battle involving Trump, his longtime personal lawyer and the actress, Stephanie Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels.
The lawsuit came days after Michael D. Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, had legally pressured Clifford, initiating arbitration proceedings against her in Los Angeles in efforts to prevent her from speaking out about an affair she said she had with Trump, according to the complaint.
The suit, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, alleges that Trump "purposely did not sign the agreement so he could later, if need be, publicly disavow any knowledge of the Hush Agreement and Clifford".
Despite not having a non-disclosure agreement in place, the lawsuit says Cohen proceeded to wire $130,000 to a trust account held by a lawyer for Clifford. The court documents filed on Tuesday do not make clear when that payment was made.
The lawsuit asks the judge to formally declare that either no agreement was formed, or that, to the extent an agreement was formed, it is invalid.
"We fully intend on bringing as much sunlight to this matter as possible," said Michael J. Avenatti, a lawyer representing Clifford in the suit.
Cohen did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment. The White House also did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
Last month, Cohen said that he had paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to Clifford, and that he had not been reimbursed by the Trump Organisation or the campaign.
"Neither the Trump Organisation nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly," Cohen said in a statement at the time. "The payment to Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone."
He declined to answer several follow-up questions, including whether Trump had been aware that Cohen made the payment.
New York Times News Service