in today's stormy Daniels news
December 4, 2018

On Monday, lawyers for President Trump asked U.S. District Judge S. James Otero to force porn actress Stormy Daniels to pay nearly $800,000 in Trump's legal fees and penalties from a defamation case Daniels lost against Trump. Charles Harder, a lawyer for Trump, asked for $390,000 in legal fees and an equal amount to deter a "repeat filer of frivolous defamation cases." Otero said that Harder's $840-an-hour rate was reasonable but suggested his 580 hours billed might be excessive; he will rule on the request later. Daniels is appealing his decision to throw out her case.

Michael Avenatti — who represents Daniels in this case and a separate one over a $130,000 nondisclosure agreement Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen paid her during the 2016 election to keep quiet about an affair she said she had with Trump — called the proposed fees "absurd and outrageous," arguing that Harder "can't just pick a number out of thin air in an effort to put my client under Donald Trump's thumb and intimidate her." He told reporters the NDA case is the main attraction and predicted that the attorney's fees he exacts from Trump in that case will be a number that "dwarfs exponentially" what Trump is seeking.

Daniels said last week that Avenatti had filed the defamation case against Trump without her consent. But on Twitter Sunday and at a book-signing event Monday hosted by The Washington Post's Sally Quinn at Washington's Politics and Prose bookstore, Daniels said that she and Avenatti "have sorted sh-t out" and "we are going to kick ass together." Peter Weber

July 13, 2018

Hours after police in Columbus, Ohio, arrested porn actress Stormy Daniels early Thursday outside a strip club where she'd just performed, prosecutors threw out the charges. Police had charged Daniels, 39, with three misdemeanors for allegedly slapping three undercover officers at the club with her bare breasts, but prosecutors said the Ohio law in question only prohibits physical contact between customers and strippers who "regularly" perform at a club. Daniels was making her first appearance at the club, Sirens.

"One element of the law was missed in error," Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs explained. "A mistake was made, and I accept full responsibility." Here's what that "mistake" looked like for Daniels, who was "traumatized and rattled" by her arrest, according to her lawyer, Michael Avenatti.

Avenatti alleged on Twitter that arresting Daniels was a "setup" by cops with "very pro-Trump" social media pages. Daniels is most famous now for purportedly having sex with President Trump in 2006 and being paid $130,000 by Trump's lawyer to stay quiet about her allegation. Jacobs said her officers were acting well within their responsibilities when arresting Daniels and two other strippers, but the motivation of the officers will be reviewed internally.

The Columbus Police Department "engages in these operations routinely," said spokesman Sgt. Dean Worthington, without providing numbers. Franklin County court records show 23 similar cases so far in 2018, including the Daniels arrest, plus 14 last year and six in 2016, The Associated Press reports. Each misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Peter Weber

July 12, 2018

Early Thursday, lawyer Michael Avenatti said that his most famous client, porn actress and director Stormy Daniels, had been arrested at a strip club in Columbus, Ohio. Daniels was arrested while "performing the same act she has performed across the nation at nearly a hundred strip clubs," he tweeted. "This was a setup & politically motivated. It reeks of desperation. We will fight all bogus charges." He told The Associated Press and NBC News that undercover vice officers were at the Sirens club, and after a customer touched Daniels, they pounced. "It's absurd that law enforcement resources are being spent to conduct a sting operation related to customers touching performers in a strip club in a non-sexual manner," Avenatti told AP.

An Ohio law known as the Community Defense Act bars anyone from touching nude or seminude dancers unless they are a family member, AP explains. Avenatti is representing Daniels in her lawsuit against President Trump, with whom she purportedly had an extramarital affair, and ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who indisputably paid Daniels $130,000 to stay quiet about her allegations. Peter Weber

April 6, 2018

Until Thursday, President Trump had remained uncharacteristically silent about Stormy Daniels, the porn star whose October 2016 nondisclosure agreement to stay silent about an alleged 2006 extramarital affair with Trump has sparked a heated legal and PR battle. And what Trump said Thursday seemed pretty innocuous. "Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?" a reporter asked him on Air Force One. "No," Trump said, adding that he did not know why his lawyer Michael Cohen paid her or where he got the money.

Still, that brief exchange was enough to make Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, do a victory dance. Avenatti and Daniels are suing Cohen and Trump to invalidate the NDA on the grounds that Trump isn't a party to the agreement. Cohen and Trump are suing Daniels for up to $20 million for breaking the NDA. "The strength of our case just went up exponentially," Avenatti tweeted. "You can't have an agreement when one party claims to know nothing about it. #nodiscipline."

"We think this is basically game over when it comes to our client," Avenatti told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Thursday night. "We have a principal party to the agreement who admits, on camera, that supposedly he didn't know anything about a principal term of the agreement. Well, that means he doesn't know anything about the agreement, which means there is no agreement."

David Super, a professor of contract law at Georgetown, largely agreed with Avenatti's assessment, telling The Washington Post that Trump's comments "largely destroy" his own argument that the nondisclosure agreement is valid. "Nothing in the contract, and nothing in his remarks, suggests that he had given Cohen the right to make binding commitments on his behalf," Super said. "With these comments, we are almost certain to see this litigation play out in a public court case rather than in private arbitration," where Trump and Cohen asked the courts to send the case on Monday. Peter Weber

April 3, 2018

President Trump's personal lawyers are having a busy week, and it's only Monday. On Sunday, Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz appealed a decision by New York Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter to allow former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos to sue Trump for defamation, and on Monday, lawyers for Trump and his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen filed papers in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to force porn star Stormy Daniels into private arbitration. Daniels is suing Cohen and Trump to nullify a confidentiality agreement Daniels signed in October 2016, claiming it is invalid because Trump never signed it. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, says she had an extramarital affair with Trump in 2006.

Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said he and his client will "vigorously oppose" private arbitration and push for a hearing in open court.

You can read the entire court document at Axios. Peter Weber

March 27, 2018

"After 61 weeks in the White House, President Trump has found two people he won't attack on Twitter: Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal," The New York Times says. Even recent tell-all TV interviews by his purported ex-paramours, Daniels and McDougal, didn't move Trump to counterpunch. But "privately, the president has lobbed sharp attacks at Daniels and her media tour, calling her allegations a 'hoax' and asking confidants if the episode is hurting his poll numbers," The Washington Post reports. Also, the Times adds, "he is growing increasingly frustrated with breathless, wall-to-wall news media coverage of the salacious details from the two women."

Like 22 million others, Trump watched Daniels dish about him in sometimes humiliating detail on 60 Minutes Sunday night, the Post says, and he "asked staff in the White House if they, too, had watched and wondered what they thought of it, someone who has spoken to him said." Trump said "he personally did not think Daniels appeared credible," but "inside the West Wing, senior officials believe Daniels' account to be largely credible and consider it a serious news story that could deal real and lasting damage to the president," the Post adds, citing a Trump adviser. Mostly, Trump is keeping uncharacteristically silent because he agrees with his advisers about not feeding the fire:

Trump has calculated that the salacious details from Daniels and other women now surfacing publicly will not erode his political support in any meaningful way. The president has convinced himself, said one Republican in frequent touch with the White House, that the scandal will blow over — in part because, for decades, Trump deliberately presented himself as a Manhattan millionaire playboy. ... Trump also believes his base of loyal supporters, including Christian conservatives, will not abandon him. [The Washington Post]

So until Trump changes his mind, the Times notes, "only his alleged mistresses and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia ... are immune to Mr. Trump's Twitter trash-talk." Peter Weber

March 26, 2018

Anderson Cooper's interview with porn star Stormy Daniels about her alleged affair with President Trump aired on 60 Minutes Sunday night, but on Monday morning, CNN's Chris Cuomo seemed underwhelmed. "I don't think that you're going to get a lot of political fallout from Donald Trump in terms of having affairs," he said. "I think that was baked in in the character analysis of him by people who voted for him." Michael Smerconish agreed. "This is consensual sex among two individuals, he noted. "He was not president of the United States. He may have a problem at home — he may need to distract the news cycle so that Melania has something else to watch today. But politically speaking, I think it's a non-starter."

The great meh was echoed by former Trump communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who told Cuomo he thinks "there will be less fallout than people think, because I think people have been anesthetized to these sorts of scandals. I mean, it goes all the way back to President Clinton. So for me, I think we'll talk about it, there'll be another news cycle, and then we'll move on."

Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, promised CNN's Alisyn Camerota that he and Daniels are "just getting started." "We have a whole host of evidence" that Trump knew of his lawyer Michael Cohen's efforts to silence and allegedly threaten Daniels. He wouldn't say much more, but said they would release it in the "next weeks and months." Watch below. Peter Weber

March 26, 2018

Anderson Cooper says he didn't interview Stormy Daniels on 60 Minutes to learn about the salacious details of the extramarital affair she said she had with President Trump in 2006. "There are many, many tawdry details which we did not include in the story because it's just, you know, that's not our interest," he told 60 Minutes Overtime's Ann Silvio after the Daniels interview aired Sunday night.

Cooper said he thought the most important parts of the interview were Daniels' story about being physically threatened in a Las Vegas parking lot — "If somebody is using intimidation tactics, physical intimidation tactics, it's probably not the first time they've done it," he noted — and the possible campaign finance violations stemming from Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paying Daniels $130,000 to stay quiet about the alleged affair a week before the 2016 election.

Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, suggested to Cooper that the important part of the story "is about the cover-up, this is about the extent that Mr. Cohen and the president have gone to intimidate this woman, to silence her, to threaten her, and to put her under their thumb. It is thuggish behavior from people in power, and it has no place in American democracy."

Trevor Potter, a Republican former Federal Election Commission chairman, focused on the campaign finance angle. "The payment of the money just creates an enormous legal mess for, I think, Trump, for Cohen, and anyone else who was involved in this in the campaign." he told Cooper. "It's a $130,000 in-kind contribution by Cohen to the Trump campaign, which is about $126,500 above what he's allowed to give."

"I think there's more to come on this story," Cooper told Silvio. Peter Weber

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