ChrisWeigant.com

Porn Star Sues President

[ Posted Thursday, March 8th, 2018 – 18:01 PST ]

When you sit back and think about it, that is a rather extraordinary headline. Or, at the very least, it should be. These days, though, not so much. In fact, the story of Donald Trump allegedly paying $130,000 hush money -- to a porn star weeks before the election so she would keep quiet about their alleged affair, which took place either while Trump's third wife was pregnant or just after the birth of the baby (or both) -- was largely ignored for the past few months, due to so many other chaotic crises taking place simultaneously within the White House. It will be hard for future historians to grasp, but the story of hush money paid off to a porn star actually struggled to gain traction in the national news. And that is even more extraordinary than the story itself. But then that's life in the Trump era, folks.

The facts as we know them, at this point in time: Trump's lawyer paid off Stormy Daniels (as she is known in the adult film industry) to the tune of $130,000, mere days before America voted Trump in as president. Could such bombshell news have swayed anyone's vote, if it had been widely known right before the election? Maybe, maybe not. Trump supporters seem to have an inexhaustible well of forgiveness for him, so perhaps it wouldn't have changed the outcome (the Billy Bush "grab 'em by the pussy" tape certainly didn't, after all). But getting back to the facts, both sides agree that the payoff did actually take place, so there is no dispute about the core of the story. It is not merely "alleged," it did happen, in other words.

Trump's lawyer created a corporation solely for the purpose of funnelling the money to Daniels. He has stated that neither "the Trump campaign nor the Trump organization" reimbursed him for the $130,000 he paid out (through the shell corporation). Absent in that statement was any denial that "Donald Trump himself" had personally reimbursed the money, though. Trump's lawyer is mightily trying to make it appear as though he paid a six-figure settlement out of his own pockets, for reasons unknown. That's a pretty thin story in terms of believability (how many lawyers would actually do such a thing?), but he's (so far) sticking to it.

Trump denies the affair even took place. Which begs some rather large questions. If there wasn't an affair, why would anyone in their right mind pay 130 grand in hush money in an effort to keep it secret? Why would any lawyer anywhere pay any money (whether Trump's money or their own) to bury a story that had no basis in fact? Why go to such extremes to keep the whole thing secret and anonymous if there was nothing to cover up?

The hush agreement, as it is now being called, used pseudonyms throughout. There was this person known as "David Dennison" paying another person called "Peggy Peterson" a rather large amount of money. Comedians have already picked up on the amusing double entendres contained in the initials "D. D." and (even worse) "P. P.," but while this is indeed amusing, it's really beside the point.

The money, obviously, was intended to buy the silence of Peggy Peterson, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, a.k.a. Stephanie Clifford (her actual name). Clifford/Daniels/Peterson has now sued, to get a ruling that the agreement is now null and void. She makes two arguments in this lawsuit. The first is that because Trump's lawyer publicly admitted paying the money off to her, the secrecy has been violated by Trump's side of the bargain, therefore she shouldn't be bound to secrecy anymore. The second argument is even stronger, legally: Trump/Dennison didn't actually sign the agreement, therefore the contract was never actually completed legally and does not actually exist.

Trump's legal reasoning is basically incoherent, or at the least contradictory. Trump maintains that the affair never took place, he never paid any of the $130,000, his lawyer paid a porn star $130,000 of his own money weeks before the election out of the kindness of his heart (and for no other reason, since the affair never happened), and finally that Stormy Daniels is still bound by the contract to keep silent about the whole thing (which never actually happened). Trump's lawyer, following the letter of the contract, moved to arbitration and got an order which was supposed to bar Daniels both from speaking publicly about any of it, and/or from filing any lawsuit. Obviously, she's ignoring that order, since after it appeared she went ahead and filed suit.

In her court filing, Daniels introduces the entire hush agreement in full, for everyone to read. She also goes into greater detail than has previously been known about the extent of the affair, and even hints that there are text messages, photographs, or even video to back her claims up. Comedians are already speculating about "the P.P. tapes," which just twists the knife even further.

But back to the incoherence of Trump's legal position. There was no affair, Trump maintains, but there was a payoff to keep silent about this non-existent affair. The money was paid out, so Daniels must remain silent about it, even while Trump's own lawyer is free to admit the existence of the hush agreement. Trump didn't actually sign the contract, but it is still (somehow) legally binding. Trump's legal team even rushed into arbitration to get an order to keep Daniels from filing a lawsuit, which (obviously) failed, in an effort to keep the story buried. But there was no affair to begin with, of course. It makes your head spin to even attempt to follow this reasoning.

Trump's lawyers will (no doubt) move to throw the case out of court. This isn't likely to succeed, which means we might soon see a civil trial of a sitting president over sexual misconduct. The Supreme Court has helpfully already weighed in on this subject, when it ruled that sitting presidents weren't immune from civil suits and could even be personally deposed (see: Clinton, Bill).

This means if Daniels does get her day in court, that Trump himself might be called upon to testify, whether by deposition or in person. Under oath, he'd have to tell his side of the story. It also means that Stormy's legal team should be able to "follow the money" in an effort to find out where exactly that $130,000 came from -- which will likely involve sifting through the bank records of all concerned, including Trump. Trump and his lawyer will have to answer the question "who is David Dennison, really?" As well as plenty of other pointed questions about the whole affair.

Bill Clinton's deposition in his own civil lawsuit eventually led to his impeachment and trial in the Senate. Donald Trump is already under investigation for obstruction of justice on an unrelated matter. The payment may have been illegal under campaign finance laws (Trump never admitted to the payment in any of his campaign finance filings). Sooner or later Bob Mueller may become involved in the Stormy Daniels situation, especially if Trump tries in any way to interfere with the legal process (or commit perjury, for that matter). Just like it all unfolded with Ken Starr, two decades ago.

It would be ironic in the extreme if this ultimately proves to be Trump's undoing. With all the other things he's being scrutinized over, to be caught by lying about an sexual affair wouldn't be poetic justice so much as comedic justice, really. But that's where we find ourselves, folks. A porn star is suing the president of the United States over a sexual affair and hush money. Comedians are torn between making "Stormy Monday" jokes, or instead quoting "Stormy Weather." But the most astonishing thing is that it took the filing of a lawsuit for the story to even rise to the top of the news cycle, because so many other bizarre stories have been pushing it off the front page for the past few months. Even in the time of Trump, that's pretty extraordinary.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

48 Comments on “Porn Star Sues President”

  1. [1] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    Great summation as usual.

    The other remarkable thing the "Stormy saga" has done, is push stories that if this was a dem administration would be being blared from the top of the right wing media mountains right out of the news cycle after one blip.

    Just in the past week we have an EPA appointee being allowed to "moonlight" for secret clients, Good ole' Kelly Anne being found in violation of the Hatch act, Zinke spending 139k on an office door, just to name a few.

  2. [2] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Trump being what he is and always has been, I'm surprised he bothers denying it, much less paying hush money. Why would he even care, when it's inevitably only one of gawdonlyknows how many similar episodes throughout his life.

    One almost has to feel sorry for Melania, but then on the other hand, she surely must have known what she was getting in for marrying a person with his history.

  3. [3] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Forget Stormy Monday or Stormy Weather comparisons. Just go with "Daniels" comparisons as in Jeff Daniels, as Trump seems to just be dumb and getting dumber.

  4. [4] 
    Paula wrote:

    In addition to the factors CW covered, there's the likelihood that this buy-off was a routine tRump transaction - he has paid his way out trouble his entire life. He lives by "non-disclosures" - he breaks all kinds of rules/laws, uses his lawyers to harass and intimidate people, pays them off when he has to, but in exchange for their silence.

    I saw a piece somewhere awhile back calling for an end to non-disclosure agreements and I agree with the idea. It is the means by which the rich and powerful - people/corporations - get away with so many things for so long. Yes, the "victim" gets money, but the perp gets cover and deniability, which enables him/them to go out and behave badly again.

    And in the realm of Republican/Rightwing "christian" hypocrisy, this little episode would be breath-taking if we had any breath left.

  5. [5] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Holy Crap! I have to admit I agree with Paula on the non-disclosure agreements.

    Ralph Nader was just talking about this on last week's Radio Hour and about a judge in New York that threw out an agreement that are usually rubber stamped by the judges not because of the non-disclosure part but because the settlement was too low.

  6. [6] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Melania looks very sad lately. This is her chance to take advantage of all the confusion (and lack of WH staff) and make her break for freedom from the The Donald. "I'm just going out for a minute to pick up a pair of 9" heels!" Run Melania, run!

  7. [7] 
    neilm wrote:

    I wonder if Trump signed the pre-nup?

    I'll bet you Melania checked today.

  8. [8] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    I agree with Paula about the non-disclosure agreements, and I think forced arbitration instead of allowing a trial to settle disputes should be tossed out as well! Both of these have been used to silence whistle blowers and to hide the misdeeds of companies from being made public which only invites corruption!

  9. [9] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    neilm,

    I wonder if Trump signed the pre-nup?

    She’d had left him long ago if he failed to sign it! I’m guessing that he pretty much owns her. I’d bet money that she is prevented from filing for divorce from him. She’d probably lose any claim to all of his assets and be hit with millions in fines for violating their contract.

  10. [10] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    So here's my question:

    Where are the so-called 'family values' Republicans?

    When did the deficit hawks leave the GOP fold?

    Have Free Market Republicans also left the building?

    And when did the 'national security' republicans run for cover, where they're apparently refusing to take phone calls?

    My brother has a great theory: they must be very quietly migrating over to the Democratic fold, in the voting booths anyway. It would explain a lot.

  11. [11] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Stig [6]: Run Melania, run!

    This must be great for the meme generators.

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    I saw a piece somewhere awhile back calling for an end to non-disclosure agreements and I agree with the idea. It is the means by which the rich and powerful - people/corporations - get away with so many things for so long. Yes, the "victim" gets money, but the perp gets cover and deniability, which enables him/them to go out and behave badly again.

    And in the realm of Republican/Rightwing "christian" hypocrisy, this little episode would be breath-taking if we had any breath left.

    Yea, cuz everyone knows that Democrat/Left Wingers would NEVER abuse NDAs, right? :^/

    Once again, the hypocrisy is BREATH TAKING in it's depth and depravity.. :^/

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    She’d had left him long ago if he failed to sign it! I’m guessing that he pretty much owns her. I’d bet money that she is prevented from filing for divorce from him. She’d probably lose any claim to all of his assets and be hit with millions in fines for violating their contract.

    Any FACTS to support your claims??

    No?? Of course not.. :^/

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    Just like it all unfolded with Ken Starr, two decades ago.

    So, the same Democrats who howled and bitched and moaned at the Ken Starr process will be cheering on the exact same process, right??

    Like I said.. Breath taking hypocrisy that knows no bottom depth of depravity...

    :^/

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    “Just an extraordinary evening and, of course, opening the door to the big question: If President Trump can truly solve this problem, that would be going down as a great President and there’s no way around that. That is the reality here.”
    -CNN

    Ya'all are just trying to tear President Trump down because even the liberal MSM is singing the grand praises of President Trump... :D

  16. [16] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW -

    "The second argument is even stronger, legally: Trump/Dennison didn't actually sign the agreement, therefore the contract was never actually completed legally and does not actually exist."

    Logically speaking, you would think so. Only a small minority of the parade of legal experts interviewed by the Mass Media think lack of a Trump signature invalidates the nondisclosure agreement. The majority viewpoint of (what I've sampled) is that a signature of a Trump lawyer with a power of attorney on the agreement is sufficient. Contract law is apparently much more loosey-goosey than criminal law.

    One lawyer consensus did emerge: Never, ever willingly accept an offer that includes binding arbitration of disputes.

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/09/nonfarm-payrolls-february.html

    Something else ya'all won't give President Trump credit for...

  18. [18] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Trump takes a meeting with Rocket Man. The ultimate Hail Mary Pass from a floundering Prez.

  19. [19] 
    neilm wrote:

    Something else ya'all won't give President Trump credit for...

    I'll give him as much credit Michale as you condemn him for the drop in wage growth from 2.9% to 2.6%.

  20. [20] 
    neilm wrote:

    Trump takes a meeting with Rocket Man. The ultimate Hail Mary Pass from a floundering Prez.

    My worry is that both think they have on and are expecting the other to apologize and back down. The resulting temper tantrums on both sides when they encounter reality may well be problematic.

    Personally (and this is NOT investment advice, just a joke) I'd short South Korean stocks just before the meeting.

  21. [21] 
    neilm wrote:

    have WON - sorry - typo

  22. [22] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Michale,

    Any FACTS to support your claims??

    No?? Of course not.. :^/

    Wow! You got me on that one! Oh, wait....No, no you didn’t! I wasn’t making a claim, I was clearly stating a hypothesis. We know this because I started the statement with,

    “I’m guessing...”

    Boo hoo! Swing and a miss, once again!

  23. [23] 
    Kick wrote:

    BREAKING NEWS

    Michael Cohen, Trump's lawyer who took it upon himself to pay the porn star $130,000 for no particular reason whatsoever since Trump maintains that the affair never took place {sarcasm now off} used his Trump Organization email while arranging to transfer money into an account at a Manhattan bank.

    https://tinyurl.com/ycd2s6fb

    Oopsie.

    By itself, this issue is rather just another brick in a big wall of bullshit people already knew about Trump... BUT... and where Trump is concerned it's a really big but... taken together with all of the other evidence of using LLCs in order to move funds, coverup misdeeds, hide assets, and launder money from foreign bank accounts, it is a rather damning brick that proves a pattern which serves as a road map for Mueller. :)

  24. [24] 
    TheStig wrote:

    neilm-20

    My worry is that 2-way negotiations between the US and N. Korea are, at best, pointless cosmetics and at worst calamitous.

    Kim Jung Un and his family are living well as a klepto-dynasty securely propped up by neighbors China and Russia. China Russia both find this useful for their own geopolitical purposes. "Nice little economy you have there S. Korea." say Russia and China. "Pity if something should happen to it." Korean War II is that something. The situation basically a stalemate, and is likely to be so unless one of parties chooses to do something really stupid. Don and are the biggest stupids in the game.

    The best outcome I can envision from a 2 way talk is that neither Trump or "King" Jung Un do anything really stupid. Given this payoff matrix, don't play the game!

  25. [25] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    we don't need a payoff to a porn star to demonstrate that donald has poor judgment. heavens, he hired a russian agent as his campaign manager and a turkish agent as his national security advisor.

  26. [26] 
    neilm wrote:

    he hired a russian agent as his campaign manager and a turkish agent as his national security advisor.

    "I’m going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people," Trump told Robert Costa in a phone interview at the time. "We want top of the line professionals."

    ... regardless of whose Country they represent ;)

  27. [27] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    He hasn't announced it yet, but I heard he's hired Stormy for his new "spokesgirl", (or come to think of it, I believe it was "pokesgirl".)

  28. [28] 
    TheStig wrote:

    The tariffs are getting walked back as reality sinks in...maybe the direct talks will be scaled back to an exchange of fruit baskets.

  29. [29] 
    Kick wrote:

    TS
    28

    The tariffs are getting walked back as reality sinks in...maybe the direct talks will be scaled back to an exchange of fruit baskets.

    Mmmmmmm... nanners. :p

  30. [30] 
    Paula wrote:

    Rude Pundit weighs on Stormy and RW hypocrisy - crude, but on target. Highlights:

    But here's the deal, you convenient moralists of the right: Most of us on the left don't give a shit about politicians who consensually fuck other adults. Let 'em fuck. Let 'em fuck in marriage, out of marriage, while married to other people. Let 'em fuck people of the opposite sex, people of the same sex, L's, G's, B's, T's, Q's, whoever. Fuck away. Fuck porn stars. Fuck waiters. Fuck bus drivers. Fuck doctors. Fuck and fuck and fuck.

    What we have a problem with is that the right decided to be hypocritical assholes about the fucking. We might not care about Trump's porn star fucking. We sure as hell care if he is open to blackmail. We sure as hell care if he misused campaign funds to keep the porn star quiet. You're the ones who are supposed to care about who's fucking who. That's one of the big things the "culture war" you started was about.

    For some of us, it goes back to the moment when Bill Clinton had to sit there on 60 Minutes in January 1992, Hillary by his side, and apologize for his affair with Gennifer Flowers...

    Now, we have to sit here and watch Republicans contort themselves to defend Donald Trump, a man who fucked around on his first wife with the woman who became his second and bragged about it; a man who fucked around on his second wife with multiple women, as he himself told a newspaper; a man who fucked around with other women during his third marriage, including fucking Stormy Daniels shortly after his third wife gave birth to his fifth child. And the very groups, indeed, the very individuals that condemned Bill Clinton (and Barack Obama, as loyal a family man as may have ever held the presidency) gladly say that they give Trump a "pass" or a "mulligan" on his affairs because he's a "changed" person now.

    Bill Clinton fucking apologized. Bill Clinton fucking went to church all the time. Donald Trump has never apologized, never admitted wrongdoing, and never goes to church. If you condemned Bill Clinton but have no problem with Trump, fuck you in every hole you have and in a few that you don't.

    He goes on to talk about RW hysteria over LBGTQ folks, and how the Bible has almost nothing about homosexuality in it, BUT HAS A LOT ABOUT ADULTERY. Including a commandment.

    You get it, conservatives? Over here on the promiscuous left, most of us think fucking should be a blessing. We think condemning people for fucking is bullshit. We're consistent in that belief.

    The defining characteristic of what is laughingly referred to as "contemporary conservatism" is a shameless hypocrisy that shows there are no core beliefs to it beyond rank racism, sleazy sexism, and corrupt capitalism.

    http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2018/03/note-to-republicans-its-not-sex-its.html

  31. [31] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Paula [30]: (quoting Rude Pundit) If you condemned Bill Clinton but have no problem with Trump, fuck you in every hole you have and in a few that you don't.

    That's pretty much how I feel. As I said already in [10], I'm over the hypocrisy that hamstrung Obama for eight years. The GOP can't even be consistently pious anymore. I understand that they're looking forward to a new round of budget cuts this year (while they still have the votes), which will put them in a position of taking two positions at once: that deficits don't matter (on taxes, military) and that deficit spending is bad (on Democratic-sponsored programs). It's when they start crying crocodile tears about the 'future of the children' that I start throwing things at the TV.

  32. [32] 
    Paula wrote:

    [31] Balthasar: Yep, yep, and yep!

    The only thing the GOP appears to be consistent in is hypocrisy - everything else - every single stated principle or belief - seems to be expendable when expedient on a minute by minute basis.

  33. [33] 
    Kick wrote:

    Paula
    30

    Rude pundit makes a very good point.
    Rude verisimilitude. :)

  34. [34] 
    Kick wrote:

    BREAKING NEWS

    Paul Manafort gets matching ankle bracelets. :)

  35. [35] 
    Kick wrote:

    I just saw something on Twitter that piqued my curiosity.
    Hmmmmmmm.

    Susan Simpson
    ?@TheViewFromLL2

    Something I'd love to see a reporter ask Trump Org about:

    1) Cohen formed EC LLC on Oct 17 2016
    2) The contract provided for EC LLC to pay Stormy $130K by Oct 27 2016
    3) Between Oct 17 & Oct 25, the Trump campaign made payments to Trump Org properties that add up to $129,999.72.

    4:08 PM - 7 Mar 2018

    Susan Simpson
    ?@TheViewFromLL2

    Update: On Oct. 26th – 1 day after the Trump campaign completed a series of disbursements to Trump Org hotels that totaled $130K – the bank emailed Cohen at his http:// trumporg.com account to confirm the $130K for Stormy's settlement had been deposited.

    Helluva coincidence.

    9:58 AM - 9 Mar 2018

    https://twitter.com/TheViewFromLL2/status/971538152367251457

    ________________

    My, oh my. If this has legs... that's Trump campaign money being laundered. Operative words being "if this has legs." :)

  36. [36] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Kick -34

    I've seen pics of electronic bracelets. They look bulky - tamper resistant shackle, electronics and batteries. I don't think you could wear a pair on the same ankle. I wonder if Manafort has had to learn to walk a bit bow legged so he doesn't click and clack as he shuffles about the house. This might be termed "detainee tap dancing" - although I can't imagine too many other detainees have ever sported two e-bracelets simultaneously.

  37. [37] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Kick-35. Ah ha, the table in the Tweet makes your point clear. Looks like the Trump Hotels were laundering campaign funds used to pay the hush money. Stormy's lswyer is looking sharper than I thought. He is definitely winning the PR war, if not the legal battle.

    Ever since this story broke, I can't stop humming Stormy Weather.

  38. [38] 
    Paula wrote:

    [35] Kick: Then what as Cohen complaining about? Saying he hadn't been reimbursed for his generous unsolicited payment to Stormy?

  39. [39] 
    Paula wrote:

    what WAS

  40. [40] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Stig [36]: My brother had to wear one last summer while awaiting disposition on a driving case. The worst part for him wasn't the ankle bracelet which he got used to quickly, it was the reporting requirements. He had to call a dispatch each time he wanted to go anywhere and provide his destination and ETA and expected length of stay. If he overstayed, the bracelet would start beeping loudly until he called in again. He also had to call every night at midnight to reset the household monitor. Manafort would have to do each of these things twice.

  41. [41] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Paula 38. The implication is that Cohen picked up the hotel monies and acted as bagman to Stormy D. Cohen's complaint is a cover story to hide Trump Inc's place in the money trail.

    If this tweet holds up, Cohen's meltdown on National TV makes more sense...he is in a heap of legal trouble and will have a lot of legal bills. It would have been cheaper if Cohen had just paid the 130K out of his own pocket. Another mystery: 23 cents seems to be missing. :)

  42. [42] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Thanks for the info Balthy! The bracelets seem even tougher than German drunk driving tests (see Man With 2 Brains).

  43. [43] 
    Paula wrote:

    [41] TS: thanks! I guess it's plausible Cohen's claims were all intended to obfuscate Blotus' involvement, but since Cohen himself apparently complained he'd not been reimbursed immediately negates the purpose of the first lie - that he'd paid Stormy himself just coz he's generous...and the initial lie was soooo absurd - both seem to draw attention to exactly what they were trying to hide. Can he be thaaaat stupid?

  44. [44] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    TS-41

    The missing 23 cents is from the last big mac run.... these lawyer types never like to carry coins.

  45. [45] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @ts,

    three years of nursery school and you think you know it all.

  46. [46] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Stig: Tougher than Austrian drunk driving tests!

    I've used Martin's line: "Damn your drunk tests are hard!" too many times to count.

  47. [47] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Balthasar-46

    Right- Austria! I should never trust my memory of dialog I haven't heard in decades!

  48. [48] 
    Kick wrote:

    TS
    37

    Ah ha, the table in the Tweet makes your point clear. Looks like the Trump Hotels were laundering campaign funds used to pay the hush money.

    It sure doesn't seem like a coincidence.

    Ever since this story broke, I can't stop humming Stormy Weather.

    Yes! And this little ditty too:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18Sua_QTDs0

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