Stormy Daniels sued her former lawyer Keith Davidson on Wednesday, saying he went behind her back to advance President Trump’s interests in the scandal over their alleged affair.
Daniels called Davidson a puppet of the president and his attorney Michael Cohen, who paid her $130,000 to keep quiet about what she says was a one-night stand with Trump in 2006. Citing text messages between Davidson and Cohen, she accused her lawyer of colluding with Trump’s attorney to her detriment.
Davidson, whose law office is in Beverly Hills, denied any impropriety.
He said he welcomed the lawsuit, because it would free him to defend himself publicly against false allegations made by Daniels’ current attorney, Michael Avenatti. It in effect waives the attorney-client confidentiality that has kept him muzzled as Avenatti attacks him, Davidson said.
“This outrageously frivolous lawsuit is yet another desperate attempt by Michael Avenatti to continue his ‘publicity tour,’ as well as divert attention from the recent allegations against him relating to bankruptcy proceedings and the failure to withhold millions of federal employee taxes,” Davidson said, alluding to the bankruptcy and tax delinquency of the Eagan Avenatti law firm in Newport Beach.
A New York federal judge admonished Avenatti last week for denigrating Cohen in frequent television appearances that she dismissed as a “publicity tour.” The judge, Kimba Wood, was presiding in a court dispute over FBI raids on Cohen’s office, home and hotel room. Her comments led Avenatti to drop his request to participate in the case.
“Mr. Davidson is a liar and a scum bag,” Avenatti said by email. “He is now trying to distract away from his own unethical lapses by telling lies about things wholly unrelated to this case. He also clearly doesn’t know the law as it relates to the attorney-client privilege.”
Daniels’ complaint in state Superior Court in Santa Monica is the third suit she has filed involving her alleged sexual encounter with Trump in the early years of his marriage to Melania Trump.
In March, she sued the president to void the nondisclosure agreement that bars her from speaking publicly about it. In April, Daniels sued Trump for defamation over a tweet saying her story about being threatened in 2011 if she revealed the affair was a “total con job.”
Daniels’ latest lawsuit also names Cohen as a defendant. It says Cohen knew that Davidson had a professional obligation not to collude with him to benefit Trump. But Cohen “made a conscious decision to participate in the wrongful conduct,” the complaint says.
In the weeks before the November 2016 presidential election, Davidson and Cohen negotiated the deal to pay Daniels the hush money.
Cohen attorney Brent Blakely did not return a call seeking comment.Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, says in the new lawsuit that when In Touch magazine began publishing details of her encounter with Trump in January, Davidson worked with Cohen to “manipulate Ms. Clifford in a manner designed to benefit Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump.”
The complaint includes text messages between Davidson and Cohen arranging for Daniels to deny the affair in an appearance, which never occurred, on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News.
The suit accuses Davidson of secretly tipping off Cohen to Daniels’ plan to talk publicly about having sex with Trump and sue the president to void her confidentiality pact.
As a result, she claims, Cohen met with First Lady Melania Trump “in order to ‘get out in front’ of the approaching lawsuit and publicity, and convince her that Ms. Clifford was a liar and not to be trusted.”
When Davidson texted Cohen on March 2 to see if he was going to call him, the complaint says, Cohen responded with an acronym for first lady of the United States: “With flotus. Give me a minute.”
By disclosing to Cohen information about Daniels’ plans, the suit says, Davidson breached his obligation to keep her activities confidential.
Cohen recorded phone conversations with Davidson discussing Daniels, but has refused to give them to her, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint also accuses Davidson of not turning over to Daniels her entire client file and some of his text messages concerning her.
Davidson’s failure to provide everything she requested has hampered her ability to cooperate with government inquiries regarding Trump, Cohen and Davidson, the lawsuit says.
The FBI raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel room in New York in April for an investigation of possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations. Under court-approved search warrants, federal prosecutors were seeking records on, among other things, Cohen’s negotiation of the confidentiality pact with Daniels.