On Friday, attorneys for President Donald Trump moved to have a recent lawsuit brought by adult film star Stormy Daniels moved from the California court system to the federal court system. And, thanks to related filings from Trump attorneys Michael Cohen and Charles Harder, it's now clear that Trump might've admitted his part in the Stormy Daniels case.
As HuffPost noted in covering the developments following Cohen's filing to get the case moved to federal court, Harder ― a prominent lawyer who famously (and successfully) sued the website Gawker into bankruptcy on behalf of former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan ― followed up with his own fillings making it clear the president approved of the decision.
"Mr. Trump intends to pursue his rights to the fullest extent permitted by law," the filing said. The move is part of an effort by Cohen, according to NPR, to move the proceedings into a private arbitration process, rather than having it play out in court in a more public fashion. Trump's lawyers are also asserting that Daniels has already violated the terms of a nondisclosure agreement she entered into with Trump, and that she could consequently be sued for a whopping $20 million in damages.
This is a significant development, because up until now Cohen's public statements had been keeping Trump separated from the case, the nondisclosure agreement, and the alleged extramarital affair with Daniels. For the record, the White House (by way of Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) has outright denied that Trump ever had a sexual affair with Daniels, and Cohen has previously claimed that neither Trump nor his campaign had any knowledge of the nondisclosure agreement. Here's what Cohen said back in February, as detailed by The Washington Post.
In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford [Daniels's real name]. 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. The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.
That claim, that Trump was not a party to the transaction, has been undermined by subsequent reporting, and now appears even more unlikely given the court filings on Friday. In addition to Harder's filing noting that Trump "intends to pursue his rights to the fullest extent permitted by law," the filing lists the pseudonym Trump used in entering into the agreement.
Reports last week suggested that the nondisclosure agreement had masked Trump and Daniels' true identities through the use of a pair of fake names, David Dennison, and Peggy Peterson. Now, these new court filings have confirmed the fake names.
Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, responded to the court filings on Twitter, describing the filings as a "bullying" tactic, and maintaining that his client would not be deterred.
"The filing today is yet another bullying tactic from the president and Mr. Cohen," Avenatti tweeted on Friday evening. "They are now attempting to remove this case to federal ct in order to increase their chances that the matter will be decided in private arbitration, thus hiding the truth from the public."
Avenatti also noted the contradiction of Trump and his team threatening to sue Daniels for $20 million in damages after publicly denying the president was a party to the agreement.
It's yet unclear what will come of Daniels' lawsuit, although it's not the only story relating to her alleged affair with Trump brewing in the news right now. She also recently recorded an interview with Anderson Cooper for 60 Minutes, and it's reportedly set to air on Sunday, March 25.