Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump: Making sense of it all
Stormy Daniels’ alleged affair with Donald Trump has thrust itself back into the spotlight a day after the White House appeared to acknowledge for the first time that the president was involved in some way with the porn actress.
Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, filed a lawsuit against Trump this week in what she says is an effort to speak freely about her alleged relationship with the president without fear of legal retaliation.
Clifford is among a number of women who have spoken up about sexual encounters with Trump, who has denied the accusations. The porn star’s lawsuit claims Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen have made a concerted effort to silence her for more than a year. According to the lawsuit, Trump never signed a non-disclosure agreement arranged between Cohen and Clifford to keep her quiet about their alleged affair.
Here’s a simplified explainer of what has been going on in the Daniels-Trump legal battles.
Clifford denies affair
Clifford and Trump met in 2006 at a golf event in Nevada, four months after Trump’s wife, Melania, gave birth to their son, Barron. Clifford claims she had sex with Trump once, the evening she met the real estate mogul. She, however, denies having an affair and the pair had a year-long platonic friendship.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen had paid Clifford $130,000 to prevent her from openly discussing her alleged sexual encounter with Trump. Following the Journal report, the White House denied the story as “old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election.”
WATCH: Stormy Daniels sues Trump over ‘hush agreement’
The newspaper claimed Clifford brokered the deal one month before the 2016 election and the deal prevented her from going public.
Trump’s lawyer confirms payment to porn star
In February, Trump’s personal lawyer publicly acknowledged the payment to Clifford, saying he paid her the money out of his own pocket.
“In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford,” Cohen said in a statement. “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly.”
Cohen said the president denies any relationship with Clifford.
Clifford sues Trump in effort to speak about alleged “intimate relationship”
On Tuesday, Clifford filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles in an effort to have the nondisclosure agreement invalidated, alleging it was void because Trump didn’t personally sign it.
Clifford claims in the lawsuit she began “an intimate relationship” with Trump in the summer of 2006, and continued the relationship “well into the year 2007.” She claims in her lawsuit she had encounters with Trump in Lake Tahoe and in Beverly Hills.
The lawsuit charges that the Oct. 28, 2016, “hush agreement” is legally invalid because it was only signed by Clifford and Cohen. The agreement refers to Trump as David Dennison and Clifford as Peggy Peterson, but an attached exhibit details their true identities.
The suit also charges that Trump and Cohen “aggressively sought to silence Ms. Clifford as part of an effort to avoid her telling the truth, thus helping to ensure he won the Presidential Election.”
White House links Trump to Clifford
On Wednesday, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders appeared to acknowledge that Trump was in fact involved with Clifford in some fashion, citing the president won an “arbitration” proceeding after being questioned about Cohen’s payment.
“Look, the president has addressed these directly and made very well clear that none of these allegations are true,” Sanders told reporters. “This case has already been won in arbitration and anything beyond that I would refer you to the president’s outside counsel.”
Sanders went on to add she was not aware that the president knew of the payment made to the porn actress.
According to Clifford’s suit, a Trump lawyer filed the arbitration proceeding against Daniels last week to seek a restraining order to “shut her up” and “protect Mr. Trump.”
Speaking to ABC News, Clifford attorney Michael Avenatti said Trump “absolutely knew” about the payment to his client.
“Any suggestion that he didn’t know about it is, quite honestly, absurd,” Avenatti said.
The attorney went to call the nondisclosure agreement “sloppy” and to refer to it as “amateur hour.”
“He purposely did not sign it so that later he could have deniability as to its existence,” Avenatti told ABC News.
–with files from the Associated Press and Reuters.
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