Adult film actress Stormy Daniels on Wednesday launched a new lawsuit against her former attorney, Keith Davidson, as well as President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, saying the two men "colluded" and "acted in concert" to "manipulate" Daniels and to benefit Trump.
The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of California, is just the latest in Daniels' continuing onslaught against Cohen, led by her Los Angeles-based lawyer, Michael Avenatti -- and all rooted in Daniels' alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. The White House has said Trump denies the alleged affair.
The lawsuit alleges that in January 2018, when Davidson was still representing Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, "Mr. Cohen immediately colluded with Mr. Davidson in an attempt to use and manipulate Ms. Clifford in a manner designed to benefit Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump."
The men sprung into action, the lawsuit alleges, when they became aware of the forthcoming publication of an In Touch magazine article that would detail Daniels' descriptions of her alleged affair with Trump. As part of the efforts to deny the affair, Cohen "hatched a plan to have Ms. Clifford appear on Mr. Sean Hannity's program to falsely deny the accuracy of the In Touch article," the lawsuit says.
Included in Wednesday's lawsuit are alleged text messages exchanged between Cohen and Davidson that appear to show communications between January 2018 and March 2018.
On January 17, text messages appear to show Cohen insistently trying to get Davidson on the phone to discuss Daniels going on Hannity's show on Fox News. According to the lawsuit, Cohen wanted Daniels to deny her alleged affair with Trump on television.
"I have her tentatively scheduled for Hannity tonight. Call me after your trial," Cohen wrote.
Davidson responded that Daniels cannot do a TV appearance that night because of travel. "I'm trying to get her to commit for tomorrow," Davidson wrote.
Cohen, who appears to grow increasingly frustrated, responded: "It's really important. Why?"
Later in the day, Cohen appears to have changed course. "Let's forget tonight," he wrote. Some hours later, he added: "The wise men all believe the story is dying and don't think it's smart for her to do any interviews. Let her do her thing but no interviews at all with anyone."
Davidson appears to agree, writing: "100%."
"Thanks pal," Cohen said.
The lawsuit alleges that one of the "wise men" referenced by Cohen in the text is Trump himself and that the President therefore was aware of the efforts to get Daniels to deny the alleged affair on Hannity's show.
Also included in the lawsuit are alleged text messages between Cohen and Davidson on March 2. The two men appear to communicate about arranging a phone call, and at one point, when Davidson asks Cohen whether he is calling him, Cohen responds: "With flotus. Give me a minute."
The text is presumably a reference to first lady Melania Trump. CNN has previously reported that Cohen was in Mar-a-Lago that weekend in March, along with the President and the first lady.
"These text messages show that the prior denials by Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen relating to what Mr. Trump knew and about the honesty of my client were absolute lies," Avenatti said in a statement. "There was a significant cover-up here as part of an attempt to deceive the American people and Mrs. Trump and we intend on getting to the bottom of it."
Avenatti also told CNN he is trying to get his hands on more text messages.
But one person familiar with Cohen's thinking told CNN the text messages cited in the lawsuit represented discussions between two lawyers who wanted to ensure that the nondisclosure agreement Daniels signed was being adhered to.
Cohen and Davidson simply did not want Daniels to be in violation of the agreement, which carries significant penalties, the person said. Davidson, the source added, was trying to protect his then-client.
"This new lawsuit filed by Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels has no merit whatsoever as to my client, Michael Cohen. It appears to be yet another publicity stunt, and nothing more. We look forward to defeating the lawsuit in court," said Brent Blakely, Cohen's attorney.
Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 days before the 2016 election, as part of a hush agreement to prevent the porn star from publicly discussing her alleged sexual encounter with Trump. In recent weeks, Trump also acknowledged that he personally reimbursed Cohen for that payment.
Dave Wedge, a spokesman for Davidson, also blasted the new lawsuit.
"This outrageously frivolous lawsuit is yet another desperate attempt by Michael Avenatti to continue his 'publicity tour,' as well as divert attention from the recent allegations against him relating to bankruptcy proceedings and the failure to withhold millions of federal employee taxes," Wedge said.
"That said, attorney Davidson is very happy that he has filed this lawsuit because he strongly believes that the filing constitutes a full and complete waiver of the attorney-client privilege. Thankfully, the truth can now finally come out to rebut the false narrative about attorney Davidson that Mr. Avenatti has been pushing in his more than 175 television appearances and countless other media interviews. Attorney Davidson believes that the American people deserve to know the entire truth -- and they soon will. This lawsuit has made that happen."
Responding to the statement from Davidson's spokesman, Avenatti on Wednesday sent a formal letter to Davidson's attorneys, warning that Davidson is not waived from attorney-client privilege and cannot -- and should not -- make public any communications with Daniels that are protected.
"To be clear, Mr. Davidson is instructed that he is not permitted to directly or indirectly disclose any attorney-client communications or other confidential documents/materials," Avenatti wrote.
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