On Wednesday, as a major winter storm bore down on the Northeastern section of the United States, news of another type of storm engulfing President Donald Trump was sending more shockwaves through American culture. Stephanie Clifford, who performs as a porn actress under the name Stormy Daniels, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Trump, NBC News first reported, seeking release from a nondisclosure agreement that she says she reached with Trump in the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign. That agreement, for which she received a payment of $130,000 from Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, has prevented her from speaking out to address the swirl of rumors purporting that she had a sexual relationship with Trump back in 2006.
According to Daniels’ lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, the agreement is null and void because it was never actually signed by Trump. Daniels signed the “hush agreement,” as it’s referred to in the lawsuit, under her real name and the second document under her Stormy Daniels name. Cohen also signed both documents, but without Trump’s signature, Daniels is arguing the agreement is not valid. The lawsuit seeks to release Daniels from the terms of the agreement so she can freely discuss her “intimate relationship” with Trump.
Throughout the document, Trump is referred to by the alias “David Dennison,” and Daniels is referred to by a third name, “Peggy Peterson.” In the second document, Dennison’s identity is revealed but redacted. According to the lawsuit, Trump was supposed to have signed on a line next to the David Dennison name, but the space was left blank.
Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, posted a link to the lawsuit, which contains both documents, on Twitter. He said the redacted name is Donald Trump. On Wednesday morning, Avenatti appeared on NBC’s Today show to discuss the lawsuit and said he thinks Trump never signed the agreement so he “could later claim deniability.”
Earlier today, we filed this complaint seeking a ct order voiding the alleged “hush” agreement between our client S. Clifford aka Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump. https://t.co/upa9u10MqR
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 7, 2018
In an interview with Savannah Guthrie, Avenatti bluntly stated that Daniels had engaged in a sexual affair with Trump and that she wants to share her story so she can clear up “misinformation” she believes has been spread as news reports of the rumors have appeared in the media.
When Guthrie asked Avenatti — saying “let’s not bother to be delicate” — point blank, “Did she have a sexual relationship with the president?” Avenatti responded with one word: “Yes.”
Avenatti said Daniels may eventually return the $130,000 payment so she can tell her story in her own words, and clear up what she says are falsehoods spread by Cohen in the media. Guthrie pointed out that if the assertions in the lawsuit are true, then Daniels also participated in spreading misinformation by repeatedly denying that she ever had a relationship with Trump and denying that she accepted hush money to keep quiet about it.
Watch Guthrie’s full interview with Avenatti below.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) March 7, 2018
Read the full story at NBC News.