WASHINGTON â€” Porn star Stormy Daniels on Monday escalated her legal fight with President Trump, arguing in court that Trump’s lawyerÂ defamed her by suggesting she lied about an affair with Trump.
The actress amended her existing lawsuit against Trump, adding his lawyer Michael Cohen as a defendant â€” a day after her widely viewedÂ 60 Minutes interview in which she provided salacious details about the alleged sexual encounter and claimed she had been physically threatened to keep quiet about Trump by an unknown man.
Cohen and his lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In addition to broadening the lawsuit to include Cohen, the new filing arguesÂ that a $130,000 payment for her silence days before the election amounted to an illegal campaign contribution.Â
Daniels’ defamation claim centers on a statement Cohen made in February, explaining why he arranged the payment to Daniels. He said he usedÂ his own money to “facilitate” the payoff and said Trump was not aware of his actions at the time.
“Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage,” Cohen said in the statement, adding that he would “always protect Trump.”
In her new filings, Daniels said that statement implied she was lying about the affair and exposed her to “hatred, contempt, ridicule and shame.”
The White House on Monday denied breaking any campaign-finance laws in the payment to Daniels and also sought to cast doubts about her claim that she was physically threatened to keep quiet about the alleged tryst.
“The president doesn’t believe that any of the claims Ms. Daniels made in the interview last night were accurate,” White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters when asked aboutÂ Daniels’ 60 Minutes appearance.Â “There’s nothing to corroborate her claim.”
Daniels’Â updated lawsuit and Shah’s remarks from the White House briefing room markÂ the latest twist in a legal sagaÂ that seems ripped from the pages of a New York tabloid. The adult film actress and her attorney Michael Avenatti are waging an aggressive public-relations campaign to invalidate a confidentiality agreement with Trump’s lawyer.Â
Cohen, known as a fierce defender of Trump from his days as a top Trump Organization attorney,Â also isÂ punching back hard. Cohen’s lawyerÂ sent a cease-and-desist letter to Avenatti after the interview aired Sunday night, demanding that Daniels retract “false and defamatory” claims she made to 60 Minutes.
In the CBS interview, Daniels saidÂ she agreed to keep silent about the alleged 2006 sexual relationship with Trump in exchange for a $130,000 payment arrangedÂ by CohenÂ because she feared for her safety.
Those fears, she said, were rooted in a 2011 encounter with an unidentified man who threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot after she first tried to sell her story to a tabloid magazine and told her to “Leave Trump alone.”
On Monday, Shah declined to say whether Trump watched the interview.Â He also said theÂ “White House didn’t engage in any wrongdoing” in connection with election laws.
Trump himself, who routinely torches his political rivals on Twitter, has been uncharacteristically silent about Daniels â€” evenÂ after she spilled unflattering details about their alleged encounter on national television. (On 60 Minutes, DanielsÂ said she wasn’t attracted to Trump and described playfully spanking him with a magazine that featured him on the cover.)
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Michael Cohen, an attorney for Donald Trump, arrives in Trump Tower in New York on Dec. 16, 2016. Stormy Daniels, the porn star whom President Donald Trump’s personal attorney acknowledged paying $130,000 just before Election Day, believes she is now free to discuss her alleged sexual encounter with Trump, her manager xtold The Associated Press Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, believes that Cohen invalidated a non-disclosure agreement after two news stories: One, in which Cohen told The New York Times that he made the six-figure payment with his personal funds, and another in the Daily Beast, which reported that Cohen was shopping a book proposal that would touch on Daniels’ story, said the manager, Gina Rodriguez. Â
Richard Drew, AP
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likely violated campaign-finance laws that limit the size and source of donations to federal candidates.
Asked why Daniels was paid to stay quiet before the election if the affair didn’t happen,Â Shah said: “False charges are settled out of court all the time, and this is nothing outside the ordinary.”
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Summer Zervos: The former “Apprentice” contestant has accused the president of sexual misconduct, including kissing and groping her in the years after she left the show. She has filed suit against him, saying he made defamatory remarks about her after she came forward with her story.
Seen here, Summer Zervos, left, stands with her lawyer Gloria Allred outside the New York County Criminal Court on Dec. 5, 2017, in New York. The judge in the case allowed on March 20, 2018, Zervos’ defamation suit against Trump to proceed.Â
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY
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