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Stormy Daniels files defamation lawsuit against Trump

President Donald Trump's chief provocateur has struck again -- this time with a lawsuit alleging defamation of adult ...

Posted: May 1, 2018 12:29 PM
Updated: May 1, 2018 12:29 PM

President Donald Trump's chief provocateur has struck again -- this time with a lawsuit alleging defamation of adult film star Stormy Daniels.

In what appeared to be an effort to keep her case at the center of the news after a delay in a related case in California, Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, filed a new lawsuit on Daniels' behalf on Monday. The suit alleges that Trump attempted to tarnish her reputation and credibility by dismissing her account -- and subsequent description -- of a man who threatened her in 2011, at a time when she was ready to go public about her alleged affair with Trump.

The lawsuit filed Monday by Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, in federal court in New York targets Trump's tweet on April 18 dismissing a composite sketch of a man who the adult film star says threatened her over her alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago.

In that tweet, Trump called the composite sketch "a total con job." The lawsuit says Daniels suffered damages in excess of $75,000.

"By calling the incident a 'con job,' Mr. Trump's statement would be understood to state that Ms. Clifford was fabricating the crime and the existence of the assailant, both of which are prohibited under New York law, as well as the law of numerous other states," Avenatti wrote in the lawsuit.

"It was apparent that Mr. Trump meant to convey that Ms. Clifford is a liar, someone who should not be trusted, that her claims about the threatening encounter are false, and that she was falsely accusing the individual depicted in the sketch of committing a crime, where no crime had been committed. ... Mr. Trump made his statement either knowing it was false, had serious doubts about the truth of his statement, or made the statement with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity."

The suit is separate from another lawsuit in which Daniels is suing Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, over the legality of a 2016 hush agreement in which she was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about the alleged affair with Trump.

The President, who is also a defendant in that lawsuit, has denied any sexual encounter between the two. Daniels also has sued Cohen for defamation.

The language in Monday's lawsuit about how Daniels' alleged affair with Trump came to the attention of InTouch magazine conflicts with CNN's reporting on the matter.

In the lawsuit, Avenatti claims that Daniels agreed to cooperate with InTouch in May 2011 on an article about the alleged affair that was being pushed to the magazine by Daniels' ex-husband.

The lawsuit contends that Daniels' ex-husband approached the magazine without approval from Daniels, adding that "she did so only after being told that the magazine was going to be running the story with or without her cooperation."

But two sources with knowledge of the arrangement told CNN that it was Daniels' manager, Gina Rodriguez, who was peddling the story on behalf of Daniels. The adult film star, the sources said, did the interview willingly and went so far as to sit for a lie detector test.

When asked about the conflicting account of how Daniels connected with InTouch, Avenatti told CNN it was "complete and utter nonsense. An absolute fabrication. And in any event, irrelevant."

Daniels contends that she was threatened in Las Vegas a few weeks after sharing her story with InTouch. She has said that a man -- who became the subject of the composite sketch referenced by Trump earlier this month -- approached her in a parking lot and said, "Leave Trump alone. Forget the story."

According to her account, the man then leaned in, looked at Daniels' infant daughter and said: "That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom." (InTouch never published the story.)

After the composite sketch of the man was released publicly on April 17 at Daniels' behest, the President referenced her account in a tweet.

"A sketch years later about a nonexistent man," Trump tweeted on April 18. "A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!"

Avenatti's move Monday seemed designed to draw fresh attention to Daniels' claims after a California judge halted her lawsuit against Cohen for 90 days while a criminal investigation of him moves forward in New York.

But some legal analysts have interpreted Avenatti's moves against Cohen, and now the President, as an effort to compel Trump and his lawyer to give a deposition under oath, as investigators probe the circumstances around Cohen's $130,000 payment to Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

In mid-April, the FBI raided Cohen's office, home and a hotel room that he was using. They seized recordings he had made of his conversations with Daniels' former lawyer, Keith Davidson.

When asked Monday why it was necessary to file the lawsuits in two different legal jurisdictions, Avenatti told CNN that "it wasn't by accident" that they decided to file a separate defamation suit against Trump on Monday in New York. He declined, however, to explain the thinking behind his strategy.

"I'm not at liberty to get into that. But it wasn't by accident," he said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon.

Avenatti said the suggestion that Daniels' latest case is a media ploy is "absolutely baseless, absurd, moronic and ridiculous."

"We did not force the President to issue this defamatory tweet," Avenatti said, referring to Trump's tweet on April 18.

"We stated immediately after it was issued that we were going to be bringing this claim either in the LA case or in a separate matter. And that's exactly what we've done."

Avenatti has said Daniels plans to file an appeal challenging the move by the California judge to issue a 90-day stay.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033831790
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Allen41736693
St. Joseph37007565
Hamilton36617417
Elkhart29425461
Tippecanoe22938228
Vanderburgh22565400
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1109697

Reported Deaths: 20213
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1289521469
Cuyahoga1158802216
Hamilton814201251
Montgomery525861049
Summit484551006
Lucas43384824
Butler39098606
Stark33355930
Lorain25689506
Warren24612305
Mahoning22388602
Lake21219389
Clermont20138253
Delaware18892136
Licking16671225
Fairfield16589204
Trumbull16560483
Medina15618273
Greene15292248
Clark14244306
Wood13296200
Portage13254216
Allen11919239
Richland11611211
Miami10857225
Wayne9153225
Columbiana9039230
Muskingum8909135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8654251
Marion8649139
Erie8058165
Ashtabula7171179
Hancock6999133
Ross6948163
Geauga6850151
Scioto6540106
Belmont6159174
Union585049
Lawrence5741102
Jefferson5683159
Huron5554122
Sandusky5444126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5321109
Athens524460
Auglaize502487
Mercer487785
Shelby477095
Knox4573112
Madison444566
Ashland435997
Putnam4336104
Defiance432399
Fulton432274
Crawford4046110
Brown402761
Logan387678
Preble3859105
Clinton379266
Ottawa373581
Highland360266
Williams348578
Champaign344959
Guernsey325254
Jackson318454
Perry297350
Morrow291940
Fayette285750
Hardin275765
Henry273867
Holmes2703101
Coshocton269360
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240850
Wyandot234756
Hocking220663
Carroll197548
Paulding176642
Meigs148540
Monroe136345
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan110124
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
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