Late Tuesday night, porn star Stormy Daniels (aka Stephanie Clifford) sued President Donald Trump in California court -- alleging that he never actually signed a "hush agreement" over an alleged sexual relationship between the two, making the agreement null and void.
It's -- obviously -- one side of the story. Trump, through his lawyer, has totally denied any relationship with Daniels. Asked about the lawsuit on Wednesday. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said only that "We've addressed our feelings on that situation, and I don't have anything else to add."
This is not simply a "he said, she said," of course. We know that Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 before the election out of a shell corporation in Delaware. (Cohen said that Trump knew nothing about the payment and that he made it out of his personal funds.)
In short, there's a lot of smoke around the Daniels-Donald relationship even if there is no proof of fire.
And Daniels' lawsuit sheds even more light on their alleged relationship. I read through it -- and you can too! -- and pulled out some of the allegations that had me open-mouthed in surprise. Again, this is a one-sided version of what happened so take it cum grano salis.
1. Donald Trump was referred to as "David Dennison" in the hush agreement signed by Daniels.
This probably shouldn't be all that surprising given that Trump has done this sort of thing before. Remember his creation of "John Miller," a young PR executive in the Trump Organization decades ago who would call up the New York City tabloids and brag about Trump's sex life and appeal to women.
2. Clifford says Trump worked with Cohen to silence her.
"Mr. Trump, with the assistance of his attorney Mr. Cohen, aggressively sought to silence Ms. Clifford as part of an effort to avoid her telling the truth, thus helping to ensure he won the presidential election," reads the suit. This runs directly counter to Trump -- and Cohen's -- version of events in which Trump had zero knowledge of anything Cohen was doing to silence Daniels.
3. Clifford says Trump knew about the formation of the shell company to pay her.
"EC [Essential Consultants LLC] was created by Mr. Cohen with Mr. Trump's knowledge for one purpose: to hide the true source of funds to be used to pay Ms. Clifford, thus further insulating Mr. Trump from later discovery and scrutiny." Again, Trump and Cohen say the President had zero knowledge of the creation of this company in Delaware.
4. Clifford's alias in the hush agreement was "Peggy Peterson."
David Dennison and Peggy Peterson. What an (alleged) pair.
5. The hush agreement was signed -- although not by Trump/Dennison -- on Oct 28, 2016.
It's possible this was already out there and I missed it. But the timing is incredible. An agreement to silence Daniels was signed just 11 days before Trump won a stunning upset. That this was out there even as he was campaigning all over the country with the goal of winning the highest nation in the land is truly, truly incredible.
6. As recently as late February, Cohen was trying to keep Daniels quiet.
"On or about February 27, 2018, Mr. Trump's attorney Mr. Cohen surreptitiously initiated a bogus arbitration proceeding against Ms. Clifford in Los Angeles. Remarkably, he did so without even providing Ms. Clifford with notice of the proceeding and basic due process."
7. Daniels alleges Trump is aware of Cohen's attempts at silencing her.
"It strains credibility to conclude that Mr. Cohen is acting on his own accord without the express approval and knowledge of his client Mr. Trump," reads the suit.
Worth noting here: CNN reported on Tuesday night that Trump had given a sort of tacit approval to Anthony Scaramucci to bash chief of staff John Kelly
8. Daniels' goal here is to get out from under the hush agreement.
Daniels wants to tell her full story without fear of being sued by the legendarily litigious Trump. In her past media appearances, Daniels is clearly worried/guarded about what she can say or insinuate -- walking close to that line but very aware never to cross it.
She sees the lack of a signature by Trump/Dennison as a way out of the box this agreement has her in.
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