In new court filings in the ongoing legal battle between Stormy Daniels, President Donald Trump, and Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen, the former adult film star addressed claims that Trump was not a party to the agreement where she received $130,000 in exchange for not talking about an affair they allegedly had. While Cohen claims that Trump wasn’t involved in the agreement and therefore isn’t bound to it, Daniels says that when she signed she thought otherwise — and if she had been told Trump wasn’t aware of the arrangement, she never would have agreed to anything.
“[Daniels] believed, and was led to believe, that the contemplated Agreement was between herself and Mr. Trump to settle possible claims between the two of them,” a new motion filed by Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti said. Avenatti goes on to say that the language of the agreement, which states that Trump himself makes various promises and warranties, gave Daniels the impression that Trump was going to be bound by the agreement.
Despite this, Cohen claims that Trump had no knowledge of the payment or the agreement at the time it was done. He has said this in defense of allegations that the payment constituted an in-kind contribution to Trump’s campaign, because Daniels’ agreement not to discuss the alleged affair was made in the days prior to the 2016 presidential election. If it was a campaign contribution (an issue at the center of a pending complaint with the Federal Election Commission), Trump could be in trouble for not reporting it — if he was aware of it.
Cohen claims that it’s not a problem that the agreement was made with without Trump’s involvement because he wasn’t really a party to it in the first place. Daniels claims she believed otherwise.
“When I signed the Settlement Agreement and Side Letter Agreement, it was my understanding that Donald Trump was a party to the Settlement Agreement and that he was going to sign both documents,” Daniels said in a sworn declaration filed on Monday.
The Side Letter Agreement included explanations that aliases used in the Settlement Agreement referred to Daniels and Trump. Trump never signed either one.
Daniels went on to say that she wouldn’t have signed the agreement if she was told Trump wouldn’t be held to it.
“Had I known that Mr. Trump was not going to sign both documents or that he was going to later claim that he was not a party to the Settlement Agreement, I would have never signed either document nor would I have accepted the $130,000 payment,” she said. Daniels pointed out that the agreement “would not have made any sense” if Trump wasn’t a party, because it “was supposed to deal with the settlement of possible claims and litigation between me and Mr. Trump.”
Avenatti also filed a sworn declaration from Lawrence Solan, a law professor with a PhD in linguistics who analyzed the agreement. Solan reviewed and stated that the words used in the agreement “strongly imply” that Trump was “intended to be understood to be a party to the Agreement.”
Avenatti claims that because Daniels was misled, the agreement is invalid due to fraud.
Law&Crime reached out to Cohen’s attorney for comment, and will update upon receiving a response.
Monday’s court filings are in opposition to Cohen and Trump’s attempt to move the case to arbitration, according to a clause in the agreement that says any dispute should be brought before an arbitrator and not a court.
Avenatti has argued that the arbitration clause itself is invalid for several reasons, including the fact that it only refers to disputes between Daniels and Trump, and Trump never signed the agreement. Trump himself did not file the motion to move the case to arbitration. That was done by EC LLC, Cohen’s company that was used to make the payment to Daniels. While EC LLC was named in the agreement, it was not mentioned in the agreement’s arbitration clause.
[Image via Ethan Miller/Getty Images]
Opposition to Motion for Arbitration on Scribd
Declarations in Clifford v Trump on Scribd