President Donald Trump has maintained a curious silence regarding his alleged involvement with adult film star Stephanie Clifford a.k.a. Stormy Daniels.
Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing Clifford, appeared on CBS This Morning on Monday following his client's Sunday night 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper.
Avenatti used this opportunity to share his thoughts on why Trump, who regularly shares his inner-most thoughts on Twitter, hasn't tweeted about Clifford or the growing scandal involving $130,000 in hush money that was paid to the actress eleven days before the 2016 presidential election.
"We're only getting started. Michael Cohen has zero credibility...this is a man who has a history of thuggish behav… https://t.co/wW1rbocY6l— CBS This Morning (@CBS This Morning) 1522063543.0
Trump's long-time attorney Michael Cohen claims to have paid Clifford out of his own pocket, and, according to Avenatti, has unjustly slandered his client, explaining that Cohen has "zero credibility" due to his "thuggish behavior using intimidation tactics and trying to step on little people." Avenatti also declared that "it's going to come to an end."
Avenatti then offered an explanation for Trump's silence on the Clifford matter—"because it's true."
Isn’t it interesting that we have a president that will tweet about the most mundane matters, but he won’t tweet about my client, the affair, the agreement or the $130,000 payment. You know why he won’t tweet about it? Because it’s true.
“Isn’t it interesting that we have a president that will tweet about the most mundane matters, but he won’t tweet a… https://t.co/9SNAhK0wMp— CBS This Morning (@CBS This Morning) 1522063640.0
"Why does this matter to us?" asked host Gayle King, to which Avenatti replied:
It should matter to every American, because it's all about the cover-up. It's about the lies and deceit that have been laid out for the American people by Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump by his surrogates.
Mr. Cohen wants the American people to believe that this is all false and he just paid the $130,000 even though there was no basis to the allegation...well if that's true, Gayle, every viewer right now should call Michael Cohen's office here in New York City, claim they had an affair with the President and according to Mr. Cohen, he's going to send you $130,000 immediately… It's laughable. It's a joke.
.@GayleKing: Why does this matter to us? "It should matter to every American, because it's all about the cover up.… https://t.co/aGR5qrYG7e— CBS This Morning (@CBS This Morning) 1522063859.0
In her 60 Minutes interview, Clifford told Cooper that while she did accept the $130,000 payment, which she referred to as hush money, she did so under duress over threats she and her family received.
Stormy Daniels highlights: ICYMI, watch the top six moments from 60 Minutes' interview with the porn star who says… https://t.co/3q1bfRWP12— 60 Minutes (@60 Minutes) 1522023089.0
Clifford also explained that by accepting the money and signing a non-disclosure agreement, over which she is now suing the president and Cohen, she was hoping that the story would go away. Clifford said she was told, "they can make your life hell" if she refused to sign the NDA.
Trump’s made up name for NDA w/Daniels was “David Dennison” “DD” Avenatti says Trump was obligated to sign the NDA… https://t.co/dpar1S0lHQ— Thomas Roberts (@Thomas Roberts) 1522022535.0
The actress confessed that she was not sure who "they" are, but her presumption is that it's referencing Cohen.
Furthermore, speaking publicly about her alleged relationship with Trump is legally risky for Clifford. The NDA she signed along with Cohen carries a one million dollar penalty for each breach of the agreement.
Trump's lawyers claim that the contract has been violated at least twenty times, and have filed court paperwork demanding $20 million in penalties be assessed.
Stormy Daniels on Signing NDA: I Was Told ‘They Can Make Your Life Hell’ If I Didn’t https://t.co/mLUXrw9dYQ https://t.co/C5IQQuX7H0— Mediaite (@Mediaite) 1522020793.0
Perhaps the biggest legal black cloud hanging over the disputed NDA, however, is the circumstance under which the $130,000 settlement was paid.
In their lawsuit against Trump and Cohen, Clifford and Avenatti claim that the agreement is not enforceable, because Trump, a.k.a "David Dennison," did not sign it. Instead, it was signed by Cohen and Essential Consultants LLC, a corporation Cohen set up to funnel the money.
My thoughts on whether the Stormy Daniels NDA is enforceable. https://t.co/Q6HhP12Tbe— Midwin Charles (@Midwin Charles) 1522010338.0
Part of Clifford and Avenatti's case is also predicated upon what they claim are penalties that are unreasonable as pertaining to contract law. The case is moving forward in federal court.
Earlier this month, CBNC reported that ethics watchdog group The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Department of Justice and the Office of Government Ethics over the payment, which CREW says constitutes an illegal campaign contribution.
As the legal basis for its action, the watchdog organization cited a 1978 law, the Ethics in Government Act, that requires candidates to report all liabilities owned to any creditor exceeding $10,000 "at any time during the preceding calendar year." Cohen's payment to Daniels — made as part of a nondisclosure agreement — was reportedly arranged days before the election.
"The more we learn about the [Stormy Daniels] affair, the more it looks like something is missing from the president's financial disclosures," CREW board chair Norman Eisen said in a statement. "If he failed to disclose this situation, we must ask, what else is he hiding?"
@RussellCShaver1 @michele0921 @EdKrassen What IS illegal, is per Stormy’s attorney, Trump or Trump Camp, threatened… https://t.co/4kImf2ZZPk— Just sayin' (@Just sayin') 1521351973.0
Though Trump has not personally commented on his alleged affair with Clifford, the White House has firmly denied the relationship.
White House denies the affair, but Trump’s lawyers are still going after her. https://t.co/Afm35sXyaI— NoMoreTrump (@NoMoreTrump) 1522069119.0
Which begs the question—if there was no affair, what are Trump and his lawyers so desperate to keep under wraps, and why did Trump use an alias? As history has shown us, the cover-up is almost always worse than the crime. Watch this space.
The official WH position is that no relationship ever existed between Trump and Daniels. There are two simple optio… https://t.co/M52H3qPK4X— feminist next door (@feminist next door) 1522031369.0