On Wednesday morning, President Trump claimed that a composite sketch of the man Stormy Daniels says threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 is of “a nonexistent man.”
Trump retweeted a sketch of the man posted by a pseudonymous Twitter account, “Deplorably Scottish,” and wrote, “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”
A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)! https://t.co/9Is7mHBFda
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
Daniels claims the threat against her occurred in 2011, shortly after Trump’s longtime attorney and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, called In Touch Magazine and threatened to sue if the outlet ran an interview with Daniels recounting her affair.
During a recent interview with Anderson Cooper, Daniels recounted how “I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter,” when “a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone.”
Shortly before the 2016 election, Daniels accepted a $130,000 payment from Cohen in exchange for her public silence about her relationship with Trump. While Cohen used a Trump Organization email account to arrange the transfer of funds to Daniels, he claims that Trump had no knowledge of the payment — which would violate federal law if it was meant to bolster Trump’s chances of getting elected.
During a brief question-and-answer session with reporters aboard Air Force One earlier this month, Trump — who has denied having an affair with Daniels — said he knew nothing about the payment. Pressed on why Cohen would have made it, he said, “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”
But it’s unclear how Trump could have knowledge of what did or didn’t happen to Daniels in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 — particularly if, as he claims, he wasn’t aware of Cohen’s activities regarding Daniels.
Last week, Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room were raided by FBI agents seeking records pertaining to the Daniels payment, among other things.
The sketch was revealed on Tuesday’s edition of The View by Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti. Daniels and Avenatti announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s identification.
This is a composite sketch of the man Stormy Daniels says threatened her in a parking lot in 2011 pic.twitter.com/0xCM9ecuB5
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) April 17, 2018
Trump’s tweet on Wednesday marks the first time he’s addressed Daniels’ accusations on Twitter. According to the New York Times, Trump’s advisers have warned him about the perils of tweeting about Daniels and Karen McDougal, another woman who claims to have had an affair from Trump and received a payment shortly before the election in exchange for rights to her story.
Daniels described the affair in convincing detail during the 2011 interview with In Touch, which has since been published.
Avenatti reacted to Trump’s tweet by suggesting it opens the door to a defamation claim.
“In my experience, there is nothing better in litigation than having a completely unhinged, undisciplined opponent who is prone to shooting himself in the foot,” he tweeted. “Always leads to BIGLY problems…like new claims (i.e. defamation).”
In my experience, there is nothing better in litigation than having a completely unhinged, undisciplined opponent who is prone to shooting himself in the foot. Always leads to BIGLY problems…like new claims (i.e. defamation). LOL. #xmas #hanukkah #basta
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 18, 2018
Avenatti argues that the hush agreement between Daniels, Trump and a shell company set up by Cohen is invalid because Trump says he was not aware of it and never actually signed it.