On Tuesday, adult film star Stormy Daniels filed a lawsuit again President Trump in the Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging that although she signed a non-disclosure agreement wherein she promised not to speak publicly of their alleged relationship, Trump never signed the document, thus rendering it invalid. The lawsuit states that Daniels and Trump had an "intimate relationship" in 2006 and 2007, and that Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen "aggressively sought to silence" her attempts to speak publicly about it. Cohen has said that Trump denies he had an affair with Daniels.
“President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence," Cohen said in January.
Daniels is asking the court to formally rule that the non-disclosure agreement she signed is not valid, because Trump never signed it, and that she is thus free to speak publicly of her alleged sexual relationship with Trump.
In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen had arranged a $130,000 payment to Daniels on the eve of the 2016 election in exchange for her silence regarding the alleged relationship between her and Trump. At the time, Cohen dismissed the reports of an affair as "outlandish," but did not address the payment.
The next month, Cohen acknowledged that he paid $130,000 to Daniels in 2016, but claimed that it came out of his own pocket, and that "neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction." He did not say what the payment was for.
Daniels herself has given conflicting statements regarding her alleged relationship with Trump. In 2011, she told In Touch magazine that she and Trump had sex after meeting at a charity golf tournament in Tahoe, and described the alleged experience in great detail. In January 2018, however, the actress's publicist released a statement, purportedly signed by Daniels, asserting that the alleged sexual relationship "never happened."
That appeared to settle the issue. Later that day, though, Daniels gave an interview with Jimmy Kimmel in which the late night host repeatedly asked her point-blank to confirm or deny the alleged affair. She did neither, demurring or shrugging silently every time she was asked. When Kimmel asked if that was indeed her signature on the statement, Daniels replied, cryptically, that "it doesn't look like my signature, does it?"
Finally, in February, Daniels' publicist Gina Rodriguez said that the actress is "free to tell her story" about Trump. Rodriguez argued that when Cohen publicly acknowledged the $130,000 payment to Daniels, this invalidated the non-disclosure agreement, thus freeing Daniels to speak publicly.
Now, in her lawsuit, Daniels says that the January 2018 statement was "false," and that she only signed it because Cohen "forced" her to do so "through intimidation and coercive tactics." Many had noted at the time that the statement was signed "Stormy Daniels," which is not the actress's legal name.
In her lawsuit, Daniels also says that in late February, Cohen filed "an improper and procedurally-defective arbitration proceeding" against her in Los Angeles, purportedly in an attempt to "silence" her. This had not been previously reported, and as part of her lawsuit, Daniels is also seeking declaratory relief from this arbitration.
One question that has lingered throughout this controversy is to what extent Trump himself knew of Cohen's activities. In the lawsuit she filed Tuesday, Daniels asserts that he did, which in part why she's suing him.
"Unless Mr. Cohen flagrantly violated his ethical obligations and the most basic rules governing his license to practice law (which is highly unlikely), there can be no doubt that Mr. Trump at all times has been fully aware of the negotiations with [Daniels], the existence and terms of the Hush Agreement, the payment $130,000, the use of EC as a conduit, and the recent attempts to intimidate and silence [Daniels] by way of the bogus arbitration hearing." "EC" is a reference to Essential Consultants, a company reportedly created by Cohen to facilitate the payment to Daniels.
The White House has not yet commented on the lawsuit.