Just over a week ago the Presidential porn star scandal had political busy-bodies all a titter. Many of the news networks were thrusting their coverage of Stormy Daniels who was appearing for an interview with Anderson Cooper on “60 Minutes”. Big revelations were promised to lead to a climatic resolution. But the money shot amounted to be just some loose change.
This is a story perfectly emblematic of the chaotic nature that is the current White House administration. A decade-old affair was revealed so a non-disclosure contract was drawn up and Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) was paid $130,000 for her silence ahead of the election. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen set up a limited liability company — Essential Consultants LLC — from which Daniels had been paid the settlement money. This week Cohen was named in the amended suit, claiming he defamed Daniels.
This means the President’s lawyer has retained his own lawyer over a porn star lawsuit because her name was damaged after she detailed sexual activities on prime time television. Welcome to the new political age.
The Daniels appearance was all people could focus on last weekend. Washington D.C. was consumed with what would be revealed, what damning facts would emerge, and is there proof of photographic evidence of Trump’s genitalia?? That CNN, with numerous features on the story, was in such a lather over these details is surprising. This is the same news outlet, remember, that behaved like a repressed farm girl by acting shocked and outraged when a guest had the temerity to utter the word “boobs” on the air.
While the interview was a wild success for the program (it garnered the highest ratings “60 Minutes” experienced in ten years) the results for Daniels, and her lawyer Michael Avenatti, have been less impressive. The day after the appearance Avenatti appeared on the “Morning Joe” program and Joe Scarborough, who had been an enthusiastic supporter of the lawyer and the porn star for weeks, actually gave a more challenging interview.
Joe was obviously dismayed there had not been any salacious revelations that Sunday night, and he badgered Avenatti for more details, stating it was all a big tease with no satisfactory happy ending. “I’m not teasing anything”, says the adult film star’s lawyer, who posted a photo of a CD-DVD with this cryptic message, just days ahead of the “60 Minutes” segment.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 23, 2018
Avenatti implied there was a raft of additional information disclosed in a two-hour interview with Anderson Cooper and producers. He lets the implication float that more could have been revealed, but was edited from the segment.”There were many details that were excluded,” stated Stormy’s attorney. Notable that he does not provide any of those details, nor offer up his client to come on and explain what those were. Confidentiality should not be an issue, given these were supposedly provided in the Sunday interview, but there were no other facts forthcoming.
Avenatti weeks ago set a jolt of frisson through the media complex when he declared that his client had been approached by a thug, while in Las Vegas, and threatened with violence if she did not suspend her suit. Since that time nothing further has come of that story. It was not addressed at length by Cooper, and when grilled by an eager Morning Joe panel if he has someone in mind who was the prime candidate behind the threat Avenatti flatly said, “No.”
Also telling is that Daniels has never gone to the authorities with this story. While prior she could have claimed to have been bound by the NDA it speaks highly that even now, with full details spilled by her and the claim of this confrontation being announced on national broadcasts, they still have not gone to the police to file a report.
The lawyer was then asked directly by Mike Barnicle what his level of confidence was that they would be able to depose the President, and Mr. Cohen. “Very, very high,” was his answer. Days later that confidence plummeted. A California US District Court judge denied the chance of Avenatti to depose President Trump, and his lawyer Michael Cohen.
While it is clear there is the attempt to smear the President over this affair what has become less focused is the thrust of the lawsuit. The initial filing in early March concerned the parameters of the non-disclosure agreement. The Daniels camp is claiming that because the President never signed the NDA it is therefore not binding, and she is free to talk — and likely sell the details for a much higher price.
However the NDA was drawn up with Essential Consultants, and Cohen as a representative did sign the agreement, so the document should be binding. This is also why Cohen has filed a counter suit for $20 million in damages, for Daniels violating the NDA. If that seems out of balance with the initial $130K payment it is because there is an inclusion in the contract that she would be accountable for $1 million for every violation of said agreement.
There is a bit of a reveal in that Avenatti filed an amended suit the Monday following the broadcast, one that now incorporates a defamation claim against Cohen. Even this is using veiled language however. Rather than claiming Cohen called Daniels a “liar” in his denial of her claims outright, it is all about insinuation. “Mr. Cohen made the statement knowing it was false or had serious doubts about the truth of the statements,” reads the complaint. “It was reasonably understood Mr. Cohen meant to convey that Ms. (Stephanie) Clifford is a liar.”
Avenatti is also arguing the $1 million punishment should be voided, a curious move since he already declares the entire NDA is invalid. He also appears to be making a bit of a pivot, likely in response to the realization that President Trump was not required to sign the NDA after all. He is suggesting the payment coming from Cohen should be regarded as an in-kind donation, and thus be considered a violation of campaign finance regulations.
We are looking at an altogether new charge, as this was not at all a consideration in Stormy’s original suit. It appears these new legal filings were all an attempt to expedite the request to depose Trump and Cohen. While the denial of this request at this time is not conclusive it does show a weakness in the case. And the arrival of new allegations smacks slightly of desperation that the original suit is showing signs of flailing.
This variety of legal attacks has some confused what the end goal is in all this. Scarborough, looking these new charges over, was at least one compelled to ask, just what is it that Stormy is looking to do? Avenatti replied his client, “Wants the truth, and nothing but the truth, to be laid bare.”
A rather apt turn of phrase, from the lawyer of a porn actress.