Stephanie Clifford, the former adult-film star better known as Stormy Daniels, is proving to be a much more durable antagonist to President Trump than anybody would’ve guessed when the Wall Street Journal first introduced us to her.
Since first appearing on scene, Daniels has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel, taped a “60 Minutes” interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and greenlighted the publication of an interview with a supermarket tabloid where she discussed her affair with President Trump in explicit details (describing the sex as textbook generic).
Somewhere along the way, she became embroiled in a heated legal battle with President Trump, who has yet to acknowledge her. However, he has hired a lawyer specifically to handle the ongoing arbitration and court battles.
Most recently, Daniels - through her lawyer, Michael Avenatti - is offering to return the $130,000 in “hush money” that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paid her (purportedly on his own initiative) back in October 2016, when she was toying with the idea of going public by sharing her story with “Good Morning America” and Slate.com.
And according to the latest update on the ongoing saga, Daniels will likely remain in the headlines at least through the spring. As AFP reports, Daniels will go to court on July 12 to try and officially have the gag (no pun intended) order thrown out.
Avenatti filed a lawsuit on behalf of Daniels last week seeking to toss out the confidential settlement she signed just days before the November 2016 election. This action came after Daniels lost an arbitration hearing forcing her to adhere to the agreement after Cohen filed a restraining order against her.
The lawsuit alleges that Daniels began an "intimate relationship" with Trump during the summer of 2006. It continued into the following year, ending after - as Daniels tells it - Trump failed to secure a spot for her on his TV show “The Apprentice”.
But what once appeared to be a nuisance suit is getting serious now that Daniels is also asking to be allowed to publish text messages, photos and videos relating to the president. At least, that’s what Avenatti said in a letter to Cohen.
"I think it's time for her to tell her story and for the public to decide who's telling the truth," Avenatti said last week.
Daniels has also argued that she shouldn’t be bound by the agreement because Trump never signed it. Daniels and Trump were to sign the agreement using the pseudonyms Peggy Peterson and David Dennison.
Daniels’ arch so far has featured more than its fair share of “stunt journalism” pieces as reporters have trepidatiously (not really) ventured out to strip clubs where Daniels has been performing to support herself. Unfortunately, the crowds she had probably been banking on failed to materialize.
In the latest example of the media undermining its own credibility, CNN - in a piece that’s sure to win a Peabody - ventured to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where Daniels was performing at the Solid Gold gentleman’s club. During an interview after her set, Daniels said that, while the crowds haven’t been as large, she has been getting far more bookings.
But apparently the money hasn’t been good enough, because Daniels recently started a crowd-funding venture on CrowdJustice.com to raise money to fund her lawsuit (as it turns out, Avenatti isn’t working pro bono).
She is already well on her way to her goal of $100,000....
In a blurb accompanying the post, Daniels outlines the circumstances behind her lawsuit, and accused Trump and Cohen of trying to “silence her.”
I am attempting to speak honestly and openly to the American people about my relationship with now President Donald Trump, as well as the intimidation and tactics that he, together with his attorney Michael Cohen, have used to silence me.
In order to tell my story, I have had to file a public lawsuit in Los Angeles, California in an effort to void a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that Mr. Trump never signed and yet is trying to use to intimidate me.
Rather than agree that the NDA is invalid, thus allowing me to talk, Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen have instead attempted to hide the facts from the public using a bogus arbitration proceeding and have threatened me with millions of dollars in damages ($1M each time I speak out) if I tell the truth about what happened.
I recently made an offer to return the $130,000 I was previously paid if it was agreed that I could simply tell the truth publicly. Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen did not even bother to respond.
I need funds to pay for: attorneys' fees; out-of-pocket costs associated with the lawsuit, arbitration, and my right to speak openly; security expenses; and damages that may be awarded against me if I speak out and ultimately lose to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen.
I am more fortunate than many, many people in this country. And for that I am grateful. But unfortunately, I do not have the vast resources to fight Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen alone. Thank you for supporting me.
Don’t worry, Stormy. If all else fails, maybe some enlightened liberal billionaire intent on antagonizing the president - maybe a Tom Steyer or a George Soros - will finance her lawsuit, Peter Thiel-style, and eventually succeed in getting Trump to acknowledge something everybody already knows is true - but doesn’t care.