5:43pm PT by Ashley Cullins
Trump Lawyer Seeking $20M From Stormy Daniels for Violating "Hush Agreement"
The salacious legal fight between President Donald Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels over a "hush agreement" that she says is meant to keep her from talking about their alleged affair now carries a potential $20 million prize.
The adult-film actress sued Trump earlier this month under her legal name, Stephanie Clifford, claiming that because Trump never signed their contract, she isn't obligated to remain quiet. According to the filing, she was paid $130,000 in exchange for her silence. Trump attorney Michael Cohen has publicly stated that he paid the bill.
Cohen, through his company, Essential Consultants, on Friday filed a removal to federal court. The filing, which is posted below, states that the agreement contains an arbitration provision and EC had initiated arbitration proceedings prior to Clifford's lawsuit. In arbitration, EC is seeking compensatory damages, liquidated damages and injunctive relief.
Clifford's attorney, Michael Avenatti, has been making the rounds with national press, and Clifford taped an interview with 60 Minutes that's set to air on March 25.
"Clifford expressly agreed in the Settlement Agreement to liquidated damages in the amount of 'One-Million Dollars ($1,000,000)' for 'each breach' of the confidentiality provisions of the Settlement Agreement," states the filing. "Therefore, EC and/or Defendant Trump have the right to seek liquidated damages against Clifford for her numerous breaches in an amount to be proven with certainty at the Pending Arbitration Proceeding, but which is approximated to already be in excess of twenty million dollars."
On March 12, Avenatti sent a settlement proposal to Cohen that proposed Clifford would repay the $130,000 in exchange for an agreement that the original contract is null and void, according to the complaint. EC claims Clifford was well aware it was seeking liquidated damages against her in arbitration, and it intends to file a motion to compel arbitration.
Also on Friday, Trump's attorney Charles Harder filed a joinder in the notice of removal and indicated his client intends to join the petition to compel arbitration.
In a series of tweets on Friday, Avenatti characterized the move as a "bullying tactic." "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," he said. "We are NOT going away and we will NOT be intimidated."