Porn star's lawyer gives Trump team an ultimatum: Take the money back by noon, or else
The lawyer for adult-film star Stormy Daniels says that they have not heard from Donald Trump’s team about the offer to pay back the $130,000 of reported “hush” money she received from the president’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen to buy her silence on her alleged 2006 affair with the then-real estate mogul turned reality television star.
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Daniels’ attorney Michael Aventatti told "Good Morning America" that "if the deadline passes then the offer is going to be automatically withdrawn and we're going to gear up." The deadline, he said, is set for 12:01 p.m. on Tuesday.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, recently filed suit against Trump, claiming that the nondisclosure agreement she signed before the 2016 election was invalid because Trump never signed the document himself. The contract refers to Clifford throughout as Peggy Peterson and Trump as David Dennison and has a blank where "DD" was supposed to sign.
"We believe he did not sign the agreement so that he would have deniability,” Aventatti said on "Good Morning America. "The same deniability that we're seeing right now, so that he could claim that he knew nothing about it.”
In reaction to the news of the lawsuit, White Houses Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that a recent arbitration hearing "was won in the president's favor." With that victory, Trump legal team reportedly secured a temporary restraining order against Daniels to prevent her from speaking publicly about the alleged affair.
One of the outstanding questions that Aventatti wants answered is what role, if any, Trump played in arranging the payment to Daniels. A watchdog group called Common Cause has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about the payoff arguing that it amounted to an unreported in-kind campaign contribution, which would be a violation of campaign finance laws.
"Did [Trump] have anything to do with this payment?” Aventatti asked. “Did he reimburse Mr. Cohen? Did he have a surrogate reimburse Mr. Cohen?"
Trump has denied the affair, and Cohen has said that he was never directly or indirectly reimbursed by Trump for the payment.
If the contract is upheld, Daniels stands to face a $1,000,000 penalty for every breach of the nondisclosure agreement, but Aventatti said that he does not think that any court will uphold the terms.
"If the plan by Mr. Cohen and the administration is that they're going to pursue millions of dollars of damages against a private citizen who wants to exercise her First Amendment right, bring it,” Aventatti said. “That's our position. Bring it. Because our position is that the agreement was never signed.”
The contract states that Daniels cannot "publish any text messages, photos, and/or videos" relating to Trump, and it also states that any such materials should have been turned over or destroyed, but Aventatti said that those terms would only be upheld "had [the contract] been valid and had it been signed."
Cohen has built his reputation as being a 'pit bull' for Trump, but Aventatti said that doesn't scare him.
"He prides himself on being a pit bull,” he said of Cohen. “I'm a pit bull too and we're not going away.”News - Porn star's lawyer gives Trump team an ultimatum: Take the money back by noon, or else