BREAKING NEWS 1st case of Omicron variant detected in Minnesota Full Story

Stormy Daniels suing Trump for defamation

Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, has filed a new lawsuit on Daniels' behalf accusing President Donald Trump of attempting to tarnish her reputation and credibility by dismissing her account of a man who threatened her in 2011.

Posted: May 1, 2018 2:46 PM
Updated: May 1, 2018 2:57 PM

President Donald Trump's chief provocateur has struck again -- this time with a lawsuit alleging defamation of adult film star Stormy Daniels.

In what appeared to be an effort to keep her case at the center of the news after a delay in a related case in California, Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, filed a new lawsuit on Daniels' behalf on Monday. The suit alleges that Trump attempted to tarnish her reputation and credibility by dismissing her account -- and subsequent description -- of a man who threatened her in 2011, at a time when she was ready to go public about her alleged affair with Trump.

The lawsuit filed Monday by Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, in federal court in New York targets Trump's tweet on April 18 dismissing a composite sketch of a man who the adult film star says threatened her over her alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago.

In that tweet, Trump called the composite sketch "a total con job." The lawsuit says Daniels suffered damages in excess of $75,000.

"By calling the incident a 'con job,' Mr. Trump's statement would be understood to state that Ms. Clifford was fabricating the crime and the existence of the assailant, both of which are prohibited under New York law, as well as the law of numerous other states," Avenatti wrote in the lawsuit.

"It was apparent that Mr. Trump meant to convey that Ms. Clifford is a liar, someone who should not be trusted, that her claims about the threatening encounter are false, and that she was falsely accusing the individual depicted in the sketch of committing a crime, where no crime had been committed. ... Mr. Trump made his statement either knowing it was false, had serious doubts about the truth of his statement, or made the statement with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity."

The suit is separate from another lawsuit in which Daniels is suing Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, over the legality of a 2016 hush agreement in which she was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about the alleged affair with Trump.

The President, who is also a defendant in that lawsuit, has denied any sexual encounter between the two. Daniels also has sued Cohen for defamation.

The language in Monday's lawsuit about how Daniels' alleged affair with Trump came to the attention of InTouch magazine conflicts with CNN's reporting on the matter.

In the lawsuit, Avenatti claims that Daniels agreed to cooperate with InTouch in May 2011 on an article about the alleged affair that was being pushed to the magazine by Daniels' ex-husband.

The lawsuit contends that Daniels' ex-husband approached the magazine without approval from Daniels, adding that "she did so only after being told that the magazine was going to be running the story with or without her cooperation."

But two sources with knowledge of the arrangement told CNN that it was Daniels' manager, Gina Rodriguez, who was peddling the story on behalf of Daniels. The adult film star, the sources said, did the interview willingly and went so far as to sit for a lie detector test.

When asked about the conflicting account of how Daniels connected with InTouch, Avenatti told CNN it was "complete and utter nonsense. An absolute fabrication. And in any event, irrelevant."

Daniels contends that she was threatened in Las Vegas a few weeks after sharing her story with InTouch. She has said that a man -- who became the subject of the composite sketch referenced by Trump earlier this month -- approached her in a parking lot and said, "Leave Trump alone. Forget the story."

According to her account, the man then leaned in, looked at Daniels' infant daughter and said: "That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom." (InTouch never published the story.)

After the composite sketch of the man was released publicly on April 17 at Daniels' behest, the President referenced her account in a tweet.

"A sketch years later about a nonexistent man," Trump tweeted on April 18. "A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!"

Avenatti's move Monday seemed designed to draw fresh attention to Daniels' claims after a California judge halted her lawsuit against Cohen for 90 days while a criminal investigation of him moves forward in New York.

But some legal analysts have interpreted Avenatti's moves against Cohen, and now the President, as an effort to compel Trump and his lawyer to give a deposition under oath, as investigators probe the circumstances around Cohen's $130,000 payment to Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

In mid-April, the FBI raided Cohen's office, home and a hotel room that he was using. They seized recordings he had made of his conversations with Daniels' former lawyer, Keith Davidson.

When asked Monday why it was necessary to file the lawsuits in two different legal jurisdictions, Avenatti told CNN that "it wasn't by accident" that they decided to file a separate defamation suit against Trump on Monday in New York. He declined, however, to explain the thinking behind his strategy.

"I'm not at liberty to get into that. But it wasn't by accident," he said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon.

Avenatti said the suggestion that Daniels' latest case is a media ploy is "absolutely baseless, absurd, moronic and ridiculous."

"We did not force the President to issue this defamatory tweet," Avenatti said, referring to Trump's tweet on April 18.

"We stated immediately after it was issued that we were going to be bringing this claim either in the LA case or in a separate matter. And that's exactly what we've done."

Avenatti has said Daniels plans to file an appeal challenging the move by the California judge to issue a 90-day stay.

Avenatti and his legal team face significant hurdles in bringing the defamation case against Trump, not only because it involves a public figure, but also because the President has wide latitude to express his opinions.

In an interview Monday night with CNN's Erin Burnett on "Erin Burnett OutFront," Harry Sandick, a former assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the defamation case had little chance of surviving: "I think we're going to see a motion to dismiss in this case -- that would be my prediction."

"You're allowed to express opinions without running afoul of defamation law, even as a president," Sandick said. "And, in fact, there's a question about whether -- because he's doing this as President -- if this is somehow within the scope of his role as President. There's an absolute immunity from a Supreme Court case in 1982 when the president acts as president. It's not clear here whether he's acting within the perimeter of his role as President. But if he is, that would be another immunity."

CNN legal analyst Paul Callan, a former New York homicide prosecutor and media law professor, called the case "a publicity stunt" and engaged Avenatti in a spirited debate about the case Monday night during an appearance on "Anderson Cooper 360."

"Even good defamation cases are hard to win in court, because of the discovery involved and proving actual damages. But this case, I think, is going to be extraordinarily difficult," Callan said. "The defense will be that this is simply an expression of opinion by the President, which he's allowed to express, and that is considered non-defamatory under defamation law."

Not only is there a higher bar for defamation cases involving public figures, but Callan added that Avenatti and his legal team will have to prove that the President acted with malice in making the statements about Daniels' account. "There's a very, very strong argument to make that this case will get tossed by a judge at an early stage," Callan said.

Avenatti acknowledged that malice will be hard to prove but said he was confident in the merits of the case. Pressed on why he filed the suit in New York, he noted that Trump continues to be a legal resident of the state of New York. He rejected the notion that the case is a publicity stunt.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 915942

Reported Deaths: 9606
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1786832038
Ramsey739711046
Dakota67683587
Anoka64112577
Washington40545359
Stearns33631279
St. Louis29591409
Scott25994186
Wright25957217
Olmsted22339130
Sherburne19000127
Carver1670669
Clay12104105
Blue Earth1147970
Rice11451138
Crow Wing11213123
Chisago995379
Kandiyohi9815108
Otter Tail9813127
Benton9033125
Beltrami816997
Goodhue811798
Douglas7875101
Itasca772299
Mower733449
McLeod713084
Winona710258
Isanti700783
Steele685731
Morrison672879
Becker628574
Polk603187
Freeborn561246
Carlton546974
Mille Lacs532479
Lyon528461
Nobles525054
Nicollet522460
Pine515043
Cass501253
Todd492843
Brown470759
Le Sueur459734
Meeker433458
Martin386544
Wabasha375510
Waseca374333
Dodge361112
Hubbard355249
Roseau316231
Fillmore305315
Wadena302940
Redwood281445
Houston272017
Renville268451
Faribault258233
Sibley252317
Pennington252130
Kanabec250136
Cottonwood230132
Aitkin222450
Chippewa220542
Pope207410
Watonwan198020
Yellow Medicine188023
Rock177729
Koochiching176725
Swift173123
Stevens167511
Jackson161016
Clearwater158020
Marshall153522
Murray151811
Pipestone149729
Lake132924
Lac qui Parle123025
Wilkin121116
Mahnomen106014
Norman10509
Grant101510
Big Stone9485
Lincoln8805
Kittson73223
Red Lake71410
Traverse6056
Unassigned545124
Lake of the Woods5265
Cook3071

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 525758

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk81677809
Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
Dubuque18996243
Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Warren8637107
Cerro Gordo8141125
Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
Muscatine6717117
Wapello6546145
Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
Buena Vista503449
Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
Boone397042
Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
Buchanan312743
Delaware303255
Clay297636
Kossuth293477
Fayette290356
Hardin289253
Tama282878
Page276133
Wright270050
Cedar269527
Winneshiek267744
Hamilton262757
Floyd261049
Clayton252360
Poweshiek242043
Harrison240979
Madison237425
Butler237346
Cass235667
Iowa234336
Jefferson228544
Mills225330
Hancock222840
Winnebago222339
Cherokee217347
Appanoose210157
Lyon209842
Allamakee209456
Calhoun199519
Shelby199542
Union197141
Humboldt188231
Franklin188031
Grundy186137
Chickasaw184522
Mitchell184343
Emmet180146
Louisa178653
Sac175626
Guthrie169338
Clarke163629
Montgomery163146
Keokuk152639
Palo Alto152332
Howard150624
Monroe144340
Ida134141
Greene128818
Davis126825
Lucas126127
Monona124940
Worth12309
Pocahontas122125
Adair118239
Osceola105718
Decatur104813
Taylor100914
Fremont98913
Van Buren95922
Wayne86125
Ringgold78429
Audubon77617
Adams5869
Unassigned500
Rochester
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 34°
Mason City
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 35°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 38°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 37°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 40°
Tracking chances for rain and snow
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events