BREAKING NEWS : Allen County Coroner IDs Rodeway Inn shooting victim Full Story

Stormy Daniels suing Trump for defamation

Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, has filed a new lawsuit on Daniels' behalf accusing President Donald Trump of attempting to tarnish her reputation and credibility by dismissing her account of a man who threatened her in 2011.

Posted: May 1, 2018 3:43 PM
Updated: May 1, 2018 3:57 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.

Avenatti and his legal team face significant hurdles in bringing the defamation case against Trump, not only because it involves a public figure, but also because the President has wide latitude to express his opinions.

In an interview Monday night with CNN's Erin Burnett on "Erin Burnett OutFront," Harry Sandick, a former assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the defamation case had little chance of surviving: "I think we're going to see a motion to dismiss in this case -- that would be my prediction."

"You're allowed to express opinions without running afoul of defamation law, even as a president," Sandick said. "And, in fact, there's a question about whether -- because he's doing this as President -- if this is somehow within the scope of his role as President. There's an absolute immunity from a Supreme Court case in 1982 when the president acts as president. It's not clear here whether he's acting within the perimeter of his role as President. But if he is, that would be another immunity."

CNN legal analyst Paul Callan, a former New York homicide prosecutor and media law professor, called the case "a publicity stunt" and engaged Avenatti in a spirited debate about the case Monday night during an appearance on "Anderson Cooper 360."

"Even good defamation cases are hard to win in court, because of the discovery involved and proving actual damages. But this case, I think, is going to be extraordinarily difficult," Callan said. "The defense will be that this is simply an expression of opinion by the President, which he's allowed to express, and that is considered non-defamatory under defamation law."

Not only is there a higher bar for defamation cases involving public figures, but Callan added that Avenatti and his legal team will have to prove that the President acted with malice in making the statements about Daniels' account. "There's a very, very strong argument to make that this case will get tossed by a judge at an early stage," Callan said.

Avenatti acknowledged that malice will be hard to prove but said he was confident in the merits of the case. Pressed on why he filed the suit in New York, he noted that Trump continues to be a legal resident of the state of New York. He rejected the notion that the case is a publicity stunt.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 74328

Reported Deaths: 3041
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15860725
Lake7570275
Elkhart484384
Allen3902163
St. Joseph350081
Hamilton2763104
Vanderburgh196313
Hendricks1887108
Cass17959
Johnson1757118
Porter131639
Clark123347
Tippecanoe121111
Madison97965
LaPorte91130
Howard89065
Kosciusko85212
Bartholomew79347
Marshall78422
Floyd77946
Monroe75630
Delaware73052
Dubois69612
Boone67846
Noble67829
Hancock66038
Vigo65110
Jackson5865
Warrick58130
LaGrange55910
Shelby55327
Grant52630
Dearborn50828
Morgan47634
Clinton4343
Henry38320
Wayne37710
White36910
Montgomery35421
Lawrence34627
Harrison33823
Decatur33732
Putnam2888
Miami2742
Daviess27320
Scott26810
Greene25034
Jasper2432
Franklin24214
DeKalb2324
Gibson2254
Jennings22512
Steuben2103
Ripley2087
Carroll1912
Fayette1897
Perry18612
Starke1787
Orange17124
Posey1710
Wabash1693
Fulton1682
Wells1682
Jefferson1632
Knox1540
Whitley1526
Washington1401
Tipton13810
Spencer1363
Sullivan1261
Huntington1223
Randolph1224
Clay1215
Newton11810
Adams1012
Jay910
Owen901
Pulaski831
Rush804
Fountain742
Brown731
Ohio655
Blackford642
Benton610
Pike530
Switzerland520
Vermillion520
Parke511
Crawford450
Martin450
Union410
Warren221
Unassigned0206

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 100848

Reported Deaths: 3669
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18317524
Cuyahoga13514499
Hamilton9643255
Lucas5348323
Montgomery436294
Summit3555222
Butler292963
Marion292545
Mahoning2554255
Pickaway238742
Stark1827139
Warren178939
Lorain177078
Columbiana165860
Trumbull1524106
Fairfield138732
Delaware130119
Licking128149
Clark114614
Lake111438
Wood104358
Clermont93311
Medina92335
Miami83938
Tuscarawas78214
Portage75861
Allen74044
Greene69012
Belmont62126
Mercer61213
Richland60412
Erie57527
Ashtabula56946
Geauga55644
Wayne53958
Ross4844
Huron3965
Darke39529
Ottawa38626
Hancock3783
Sandusky37716
Madison37410
Athens3571
Holmes3286
Lawrence2830
Auglaize2546
Union2511
Muskingum2361
Jefferson2292
Scioto2261
Seneca2143
Knox2057
Putnam20517
Preble2032
Washington20322
Shelby1944
Coshocton1936
Champaign1762
Crawford1745
Morrow1702
Hardin16512
Clinton1646
Highland1581
Logan1552
Fulton1481
Wyandot1468
Ashland1443
Defiance1444
Williams1353
Perry1303
Brown1292
Hocking1189
Guernsey1177
Henry1172
Fayette1130
Carroll1115
Monroe9318
Pike760
Jackson740
Van Wert711
Paulding690
Gallia651
Adams612
Meigs400
Vinton312
Harrison261
Morgan260
Noble160
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 96°
Angola
Few Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 94°
Huntington
Scattered Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 92°
Decatur
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 90°
Van Wert
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 90°
Storms return for Monday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events