Stormy Daniels Charges Have Been Dismissed, Attorney Says
Lawyer Michael Avenatti is claiming the arrest — which occurred while Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was performing an act at a Columbus strip club — was a "setup."
Stormy Daniels was arrested in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday while performing an act at a local strip club.
Franklin County Jail officials confirmed to the Associated Press that Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was released on $6,000 bond around 6 a.m. on Thursday. She is set for a Friday arraignment on three misdemeanor counts of touching a patron at a "sexually oriented" business — an Ohio strip club law prohibits anyone who isn't a family member to touch a nude or seminude dancer.
However, on Thursday, around 9:47 a.m., her attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted all charges against Daniels had been dropped.
"I am pleased to report that the charges against my client @StormyDaniels have been dismissed in their entirety (below motion was just granted). I want to thank Joe Gibson & his colleagues at the prosecutors ofc for their professionalism starting with our first call early this am," Avenatti wrote. He also included pictures of documents citing the charges had been dropped.
On Thursday afternoon, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said in a statement to press on the arrest that when Daniels and two other performers were arrested, "one element of the law was missed in error and charges were subsequently dismissed." Jacobs added, "The facts behind the charges and behavior witnessed by the Vice officers are a matter of public record, and the officers were well within their area of responsibility when taking enforcement action. Nevertheless, a mistake was made, and I accept full responsibility."
Jacobs added that motivations behind the officers' actions would be subjected to an internal review.
Avenatti responded to the statement by asking for a "full and OPEN investigation" into the conduct of the officers in two tweets, including an examination of their social-media accounts.
We appreciate Chief Kim Jacobs’s statement relating to the improper arrest. However, we demand a full and OPEN investigation into the conduct of the officers, including an examination of their social media accounts (some of which were mysteriously taken down earlier today)...— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) July 12, 2018
Certain of these accounts appear to have been very pro-Trump. In the event it is discovered that my client was targeted & arrested because of our opposition to Mr. Trump, the resulting lawsuit & action will be swift and devastating. That is not a threat. It is a promise. #Basta— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) July 12, 2018
Earlier Thursday morning, Columbus police said in a statement that Daniels was one of three people arrested as part of a "longterm investigation into allegations of human trafficking, prostitution and other vice-related violations."
Daniels and the other two arrested were charged with illegal sexually oriented activity in a sexually oriented business.
"[Daniels] received a total of three counts for the same violation for illegally touching three different undercover vice detectives," police said in the statement.
An investigation into various adult-entertainment clubs in town for violations began last fall, police said.
The investigation is ongoing and police said no interviews concerning the arrests will be granted.
Avenatti called the arrest a "setup" on Twitter on Wednesday night. "Just rcvd word that my client @StormyDaniels was arrested in Columbus Ohio whole performing the same act she has performed across the nation at nearly a hundred strip clubs. This was a setup & politically motivated. It reeks of desperation. We will fight all bogus charges. #Basta," he tweeted.
Just rcvd word that my client @StormyDaniels was arrested in Columbus Ohio whole performing the same act she has performed across the nation at nearly a hundred strip clubs. This was a setup & politically motivated. It reeks of desperation. We will fight all bogus charges. #Basta— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) July 12, 2018
Avenatti later claimed that she was arrested for allowing a customer to touch her onstage in a "non sexual manner." He wrote, "Are you kidding me? They are devoting law enforcement resources to sting operations for this? There has to be higher priorities!!! #SetUp #Basta."
She was arrested for allegedly allowing a customer to touch her while on stage in a non sexual manner! Are you kidding me? They are devoting law enforcement resources to sting operations for this? There has to be higher priorities!!! #SetUp #Basta— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) July 12, 2018
Avenatti added that he expected Daniels would be charged with a misdemeanor and that she'd be out of custody soon.
We expect her to be released on bail shortly. We also expect that she will be charged with a misdemeanor for allowing “touching.” We will vehemently contest all charges. #Basta— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) July 12, 2018
The Associated Press uploaded a video of Daniels being brought into a Columbus jail in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Daniels shot to mainstream fame in January, when The Wall Street Journal reported that Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, had paid the adult-film actress $130,000 to keep quiet about an alleged affair in 2006. Not long after, In Touch published an alleged interview with Daniels from 2011 in which she described the affair.
By February, Cohen admitted to paying Daniels, saying that the fee came out of his own pocket. The following month Daniels filed a lawsuit claiming that the nondisclosure agreement she signed with Cohen was void because Trump never signed it, and she appeared on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper to detail the affair. In April, Daniels filed another lawsuit, this time for defamation, after Trump called the original lawsuit and allegations a "total con job" in a tweet.
Trump has denied all knowledge that Cohen's $130,000 payment was to keep Daniels silent, though he has said he repaid Cohen without knowing what the money was for.
Daniels has said that she felt endangered by her allegations against Trump in 2011, when she claims she was threatened by an unknown man while in a Las Vegas parking lot with her daughter in 2011. She has shown a composite sketch of the alleged threatener, and she and Avenatti have offered $100,000 to anyone who can identify him.
July 12, 5:35 a.m. Updated with Daniels released on bond and arraignment information.
July 12, 8 a.m. Updated with information from Columbus police.
July 12, 9:50 a.m. Updated with statement from Michael Avenatti that the charges had been dropped.