Stormy Daniels is not going away quietly.
In a new lawsuit filed in a California court, the adult film star, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, claims her agreement with Donald Trump to keep their alleged affair secret is not binding because Trump never signed it. The lawsuit provides embarrassing new details about the nature of her relationship with Trump and the elaborate effort to keep it under wraps.
Attached to Daniels’ new lawsuit is the full “Hush Agreement” between Daniels, Trump, and a shell company created by Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. The agreement refers to Daniels and Trump by special pseudonyms — Trump goes by David Dennison and Daniels by Peggy Peterson. Daniels also attached the “Side Letter Agreement” between the parties to the lawsuit, which discloses the true identities of the pseudonyms.
Daniels is not seeking any money, but declaratory relief from efforts by Cohen to force the dispute into a secret arbitration process.
David Dennison, notably, did not sign the agreement.
The explicit inclusion of Trump in the agreement undermines Cohen’s earlier effort, however implausible, to depict the agreement with Daniels as something he did on his own. It will also make it more difficult for Trump to avoid answering questions about the alleged affair.
The lawsuit effectively puts Trump in an impossible position: He either has to argue that his agreement to pay hush money to an adult film star is a legally enforceable contract or say there is no contract and she is free to talk about whatever she wants.
Regardless of the merits, the lawsuit is a problem for Trump as it exposes new information, not only about the alleged affair but the ongoing effort to covered it up — an effort that continued long into Trump’s presidency.
Daniels says Trump paid for her silence to help his campaign
The purpose of the payment is important: If it was primarily to help his campaign, the failure to report the payment would potentially violate campaign finance law. Former President candidate John Edwards was charged, although not convicted, for similar behavior.
At least four other people were told about Daniels’ alleged affair with Trump
The “Hush Agreement” prevented Daniels from talking about her relationship with Trump, but it acknowledges that she has already told at least four people.
Daniels apparently had photos and other evidence of her alleged affair with Trump
The “Hush Agreement” required her to turn over photos, texts, and other materials related to the alleged affair with Trump.
She agreed to turn over this “Confidential Information” as part of the agreement, which includes evidence and information about sexual activity and “his children or any alleged children.”
Daniels alleges Cohen coerced her into signing a false statement
The new lawsuit covers activity that occurred this year. It’s unclear what role, if any, Trump had in directing Cohen’s activity.