Legal bills are mounting for Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, and Summer Zervos, women who say they had affairs with or were sexually harassed by Donald Trump.
Porn star Stormy must pay $1 million every time she violates a non-disclosure agreement that blocks her from speaking about an affair she said she had with Trump in 2006, according to a copy of the NDA attached to a lawsuit Daniels filed against Trump earlier this month.
McDougal, a former Playboy model who also said she had an affair with Trump the same year, faces a $150,000 penalty every time she talks about the affair without the permission of American Media Inc., publisher of National Enquirer, which allegedly bought her story so no one else could. McDougal also sued American Media Tuesday.
But both women came forward anyway, prepared to suffer the blows to their bank accounts. Now, women’s rights advocates and the women’s attorneys are trying to convince people to help pay for the legal fees and penalties they might incur by going up against the president.
In a Monday tweet thread about McDougal’s lawsuit, civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom called for a “rich patriot” to pledge to pay for the Trump accusers’ legal fees.
“There are a number of women who are afraid to come and speak out against high-profile men because they’ve signed confidentiality agreements and those agreements have massive penalties attached to them,” said Bloom, who said she’s been been contacted by women who want to come forward with complaints against Trump. “Not everybody has the courage that Stormy and Karen have, and I don’t believe that women should suffer any penalties if they choose to stand up and speak out about the president of the United States.”
The simple act of even filing a lawsuit may mean that both women already owe money for breaching their NDAs: Both agreements require them to resolve any differences in private arbitration, rather than duking it out in a public courtroom.
Daniels, at least, has already been threatened with steep fees for breaking her NDA. Last week, lawyers for Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen filed paperwork accusing Daniels of breaking her NDA at least 20 times.
“She’s going to be liable for $20 million and Michael Cohen is going to collect every single penny of that money,” David Schwartz, a friend and lawyer for Cohen, told Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti on CNN on Tuesday. “I hope you have a good malpractice policy, because when she owes $20 million, she should go after you to collect the money.”
“The last time an attorney pointed at me like this and made threats at me like this, I tagged him for $450 million,” Avenatti shot back.
Bloom told VICE News that she had yet to hear from anybody willing to help pay back any fees and penalties Trump’s accusers may incur. Avenatti, however, told CNN that “at least 10 individuals in the last three days” have offered to pay Daniels $1 million so that she can speak out about her relationship with Trump. And the crowdfunding campaign Daniels launched last week to pay for her legal fees has so far garnered more than $280,000, though it will remain active for at least another 20 days.
Summer Zervos, whose defamation lawsuit against Trump was allowed to move forward on Tuesday, has also set up a fund where people can donate to legal fees. But her attorney Gloria Allred revealed in December that while people had donated just under $30,000 in order to help Zervos fight her court case, the case will likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Allred, who didn’t immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment, is taking on the case pro bono.)
In any case, both Daniels and McDougal appear set to violate their NDAs even more: McDougal is scheduled to speak on CNN Thursday night, while Daniels’ interview with "60 Minutes" will air on Sunday.
Cover image: Stormy Daniels in her interview with Anderson Cooper to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, March 25 (7:0-8:00PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Image is a frame grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)