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Trump seeks more than $20 million in damages from Stormy Daniels

Trump seeks more than $20 million in damages from Stormy Daniels
Stormy Daniels in North Hollywood in February. (Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

President Trump is seeking more than $20 million in damages from the porn actress who is trying to void the deal that requires her to keep quiet about her alleged affair with him, according to court papers filed Friday by his attorneys.

Stormy Daniels has breached her confidentiality agreement at least 20 times, the Trump legal team alleged in filings in federal court in Los Angeles. The pact entitles Trump to at least $1 million in damages each time Daniels breaks her silence about the president.

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Essential Consultants LLC, a Delaware company set up by Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, paid $130,000 to Daniels 11 days before the November 2016 presidential election in return for her promise to never speak publicly about her alleged romp with Trump.

Daniels, 38, sued Trump last week in state Superior Court in Los Angeles in an attempt to get the agreement nullified. One of the reasons she cited is that Trump, who went by the alias David Dennison in the nondisclosure pact, did not sign it.

The new papers submitted by Trump’s legal team seek to shut down the state court lawsuit and transfer it to federal court. The filings were first reported by the New York Times.

One of the documents was filed by Beverly Hills lawyer Charles J. Harder, who identified himself as an attorney for Trump.

“Mr. Trump intends to pursue his rights to the fullest extent permitted by law,” Harder wrote.

Harder’s statement marked the president’s most direct involvement in the case so far. Trump, whose White House press secretary has denied he had an affair with Daniels, has avoided public comment on the matter.

Harder described Daniels as “an adult-film actress and exotic dancer.” The president, he wrote, intends to join Essential Consultants in seeking an order compelling Daniels to submit to the secret arbitration proceedings mandated in the confidentiality agreement.

Neither the White House nor Harder responded to messages seeking comment.

The nondisclosure agreement requires Daniels to pay any damages incurred for violating the deal directly to Trump, not to Essential Consultants.

The Trump lawyers did not specify the occasions when Daniels violated the agreement. She appeared in January on “Inside Edition” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” after news broke of the $130,000 payment, but was coy in deflecting questions directly related to Trump.

Her “Make America Horny Again” tour of strip clubs across the nation is an obvious nod to Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” and she acknowledged to CNN that the publicity has increased her income. Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, has said at least twice on national television that Daniels had sex with Trump.

Trump’s legal team stated in the federal court papers that the pact, dated Oct. 28, 2016, was between Essential Consultants and Daniels. The hush-money agreement is actually between Essential Consultants and/or David Dennison on one side, and Peggy Peterson on the other. Peterson was the alias used for Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Daniels’ attorney called Trump’s court maneuver a bullying tactic to force the dispute into arbitration out of public view.

“The fact that a sitting president is pursuing over $20M in bogus ‘damages’ against a private citizen, who is only trying to tell the public what really happened, is remarkable,” Avenatti wrote on Twitter. “Likely unprecedented in our history. We are NOT going away and we will NOT be intimidated.”

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In a 2011 interview with In Touch magazine, Daniels recalled meeting Trump at a Lake Tahoe golf tournament in 2006 and having sex with him at a resort there. That was a few months after his wife, Melania Trump, gave birth to their son Barron. The affair ended in 2007, she said.

The In Touch interview was not published until January 2018, shortly after the Wall Street Journal revealed the payment to Daniels.

Daniels has raised more than $177,000 for legal fees through a “CrowdJustice” account, drawing nearly 6,000 donors, according to the website.

“I am attempting to speak honestly and openly to the American people about my relationship with now President Donald Trump and the intimidation and tactics used against me,” she says on the site.

In a “60 Minutes” interview that has not yet aired, Daniels alleges that she has been threatened with physical harm if she talks publicly about the case, according to Avenatti. He has declined to share details before CBS broadcasts the interview.

7:50 p.m.: The article was updated with more details from the legal papers and background on Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit.

6:45 p.m.: The article was updated with comments from Stormy Daniels’ lawyer.

The article was originally published at 6:10 p.m.

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