Just when Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, thought he was out, Stormy Daniels pulled him back in.
On Monday, Daniels — the porn star who says she had an affair with Trump and was then threatened and coerced into silence days before the 2016 presidential election — added Cohen as a defendant to a lawsuit she filed earlier this month against Trump. In the suit, Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, accuses Cohen of defaming her back in February, when he issued a public statement that read in part, “Just because something isn't true doesn't mean that it can't cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump.”
“It is reasonably understood Mr. Cohen meant to convey that Ms. Clifford is a liar, someone who should not be trusted, and that her claims about her relationship with Mr. Trump is ‘something [that] isn’t true,’” the lawsuit reads. “Mr. Cohen’s statement exposed Ms. Clifford to hated, contempt, ridicule, and shame, and discouraged others from associating or dealing with her.”
Cohen has long been linked to Daniels’ lawsuit, even if he wasn’t an official defendant. In addition to suing Trump, Daniels initially sued Essential Consultants, a limited liability corporation that Cohen founded. Cohen used that a bank account linked to that LLC to pay Daniels $130,000 in 2016, as part of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that Daniels says was intended to buy her silence about her alleged affair with Trump. Trump Organization lawyer Jill A. Martin is listed as counsel for Essential Consultants, despite Cohen's denials that the deal was entirely separate from Trump and his businesses.
Daniels’ lawsuit argues, in part, that the NDA is invalid because Trump never signed off on it. Daniels also amended her lawsuit Monday to argue that the NDA should also be invalidated because the $130,000 constituted an illegal campaign contribution.
Cohen didn’t immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment. He has confirmed that he made the payment to Daniels, which he says he did out of his own pocket, reportedly by refinancing his home. Both he and Trump’s representatives say the president never had an affair with Daniels.
This is the second time that Daniels and Cohen have accused one another of defamation in the last 24 hours. On Sunday night, a lawyer for Cohen sent a letter to Daniels’ attorney, alleging that Daniels had made “false and defamatory” claims about Cohen in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired earlier that evening.
In the interview, Daniels said a man threatened her and her then-infant daughter in Las Vegas in 2011, shortly after Daniels told InTouch magazine that she’d had an affair with Trump.
“I hereby demand that you and your client cease and desist from making any further false
and defamatory statements about my client, that you immediately retract and apologize to Mr. Cohen through the national media for your defamatory statements on '60 Minutes,' and make clear that you have no facts or evidence whatsoever to support your allegations that my client had anything whatsoever to do with this alleged thug,” Brent Blakely, Cohen’s lawyer, wrote in the email.
Cover image: POMPANO BEACH, FL - MARCH 09: The actress Stephanie Clifford, who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels, arrives to perform at the Solid Gold Fort Lauderdale strip club on March 9, 2018 in Pompano Beach, Florida. Stephanie Clifford who claims to have had an affair with President Trump has filed a suit against him in an attempt to nullify a nondisclosure deal with Trump attorney Michael Cohen days before Trump's 2016 presidential victory. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)