A Superior Court judge in California earlier this week ordered President Donald Trump to pay Stormy Daniels $44,100 to reimburse her for legal fees she incurred in litigation over a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
The controversy stems from a $130,000 NDA that Daniels, an adult film actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, signed with Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen in 2016. Under the agreement, Daniels was prohibited from disclosing any details relating to her alleged 2006 to 2007 affair with Trump.
Daniels filed a lawsuit against Trump in 2018 seeking to be released from the agreement. Attorneys representing Trump eventually agreed – outside of court – that they would not file a countersuit or use the courts in an attempt to enforce the NDA, resulting in Daniels’s lawsuit being dismissed as moot. Her attorneys then sought to have Trump pay legal fees related to the litigation.
In a 29-page decision handed down Monday and posted online Friday, Judge Robert Broadbelt reasoned that even though the case was dismissed as a result of Trump’s Covenant Not to Sue, under California law Daniels was still the “prevailing party” in the litigation.
The court also rejected arguments from Trump’s attorneys asserting that the president could not be held responsible for the NDA as he was not a signatory to the original agreement. Broadbelt reasoned, however, that because Trump admitted to reimbursing Cohen for the $130,000 paid to Daniels, and was the only person who stood to benefit from her not disclosing the alleged affair, he was effectively a party to the agreement.
“Based on the evidence presented, the court finds that Defendant [Trump] is the intended third-party beneficiary of the Agreement,” Broadbelt wrote. “Therefore, if Defendant prevailed in this action by enforcing the Agreement as a third-party beneficiary, Defendant would have been entitled to recover attorney’s fees against Plaintiff under Civil Code section 1717. If Defendant would have been entitled to recover attorney’s fees against Plaintiff, Plaintiff (as the party prevailing on the contract) has a right to recover attorney’s fees against Defendant.”
Despite paying Daniels not to discuss the alleged extramarital relationship, Trump has consistently denied the affair. Bu earlier this week, while speaking in Pennsylvania, Trump seemingly confirmed a rather obscure detail from Daniels’s account of their relationship.
In a 2011 interview with In Touch Weekly, Daniels recounted a 2007 encounter with Trump at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
“The strangest thing about that night — this was the best thing ever. You could see the television from the little dining room table and he was watching Shark Week and he was watching a special about the U.S.S. something and it sank and it was like the worst shark attack in history. He is obsessed with sharks. Terrified of sharks,” Daniels said. “He was like, ‘I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.’ He was like riveted. He was like obsessed. It’s so strange, I know.”
Apparently referring to a comment made by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), Trump told a crowd in Scranton, Pennsylvania on Thursday that he “was not a big fan” of sharks.
“I don’t know, how many votes am I going to lose? I have people calling me up: ‘Sir, we wanted to — we have a fund to save the shark. It’s called save the shark.’ I say ‘No, thank you. I have other things I can contribute to,’” he said.
Read the full decision below:
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.]
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