As her attorney promised, porn star Stormy Daniels has filed a defamation suit against President Trump over his comments about a mystery man who allegedly threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011.
The unidentified goon allegedly warned Daniels, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,” after she spoke to In Touch about her alleged romp with the future president. (The magazine didn’t run Daniels’ interview until this year, when her $130,000 hush agreement, brokered by Trump’s lawyer, became national news.)
Daniels appeared on ABC’s The View two weeks ago to unveil a forensic sketch of the man who allegedly bullied her into silence. Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, offered a $100,000 reward for anyone who could identify “the thug.”
The next day, Trump took to Twitter to bash Daniels’ police sketch, which was created by renowned forensic artist Lois Gibson, as “a total con job” about “a nonexistent man.” His tweet was in response to a Trump supporter’s post, which showed side-by-side images of the sketch and a photo of Daniels’ husband.
“Mr. Trump’s statement falsely attacks the veracity of Ms. Clifford’s account of the threatening incident that took place in 2011,” Daniels’ newest lawsuit states, adding that Trump’s statement accuses her of criminal activity: specifically, falsely accusing someone of committing a crime when no such crime occurred.
The federal complaint, filed in New York on Monday, comes after a California judge delayed Daniels’ other lawsuit against Trump and his embattled attorney, Michael Cohen. In that case, Daniels wants to void the nondisclosure agreement she inked with Cohen in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, and she’s filed a defamation claim against Cohen, too.
Last week Friday, U.S. District Judge James Otero granted Cohen a 90-day stay of Daniels’ case because of the criminal probe Cohen faces in New York—an inquiry that focuses, in part, on his $130,000 payout to the porn actress.
Avenatti announced the latest defamation filing on Twitter.
“Moments ago, we filed this lawsuit against Mr. Trump for his recent irresponsible and defamatory statements about my client @stormydaniels,” Avenatti wrote. “He is well aware of what transpired and his complicity. We fully intend on bringing it to light.”
Avenatti teased the specter of a claim against the commander in chief on April 20, telling reporters that Trump “effectively called my client a liar and stated that she was trying to pull a con on the American people.”
“I very much look forward to placing Mr. Trump under oath and asking him about the basis for those outlandish, outrageous, baseless statements,” Avenatti said, following a court appearance in Los Angeles for Daniels’ case against Cohen.
The lawsuit reiterates what Daniels has said publicly—in her 60 Minutes interview and during her live appearance on The View—about the frightening encounter.
Daniels said she was in a parking lot, preparing to go to a mother-baby fitness class when the “well-dressed” tough guy approached her.
“That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom,” said the man, who peered at Daniels’ infant daughter and walked off.
“Ms. Clifford was shaken by the experience and understood the man’s statement to be a direct threat,” her lawsuit states. “Because Ms. Clifford was frightened, however, she did not go to the police and did not seek to go public with her story at that time.” She didn’t want the disclosure of the Trump affair to affect her relationship, the complaint says.
The lawsuit suggests Trump and Cohen sent the thug after Daniels.
“Given the circumstances surrounding the threatening incident in 2011, namely that Ms. Clifford had not at the time gone public with her story and very few people knew of the possible In Touch story, it is reasonable to infer that the person who threatened Ms. Clifford could have only been acting directly or indirectly on behalf of Mr. Trump and/or Mr. Cohen,” court papers allege.
“Thus, Mr. Trump may have actual knowledge of the incident and of the falsity of his statement,” the complaint adds.
If the president didn’t have any connection to the incident, he still “chose to defame and disparage Ms. Clifford to his audience of over 50 million Twitter followers and many more worldwide,” the lawsuit states.
Because of Trump’s tweet, Daniels has faced death threats and “other threats of physical violence,” her lawsuit says. She’s also hired bodyguards since her public battle with Trump and loyal fixer has raged on.
Daniels has suffered damages in excess of $75,000, her lawsuit states. She’s seeking a jury trial and compensatory and punitive damages.