Legal battle escalates as adult film star sues lawyer over alleged affair with Trump

Xinhua
The legal dispute between Trump and Daniels has intensified, with the latter filing a lawsuit against Trump's lawyer for defamation over her alleged sexual encounter with Trump.
Xinhua

The legal dispute between US President Donald Trump and US adult film star Stormy Daniels has intensified, with the latter filing a lawsuit on Monday against Trump's lawyer for defamation over her alleged sexual encounter with Trump, hush money and a threat she later received to keep silent.

During Monday's briefing, the White House denied Daniels' allegations after Trump has repeatedly disregarded questions from reporters about the scandal, which Daniels exposed in the TV show "60 minutes" on Sunday. The show reportedly hit a record-high viewership of 22 million people.

"The president doesn't believe any of the claims Ms Daniels made in the interview last night were accurate," White House spokesman Raj Shah said, yet without specifying whether the president had watched the TV show.

As for whether Trump believed Daniels was intimidated before the presidential campaign, Shah said that there was "nothing to corroborate her claim."

Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen also denied Daniels' charge that she was threatened with violence in 2011, after she agreed to speak to a US celebrity gossip magazine for US$15,000. What's more, Cohen denied that he was involved in Daniels' alleged intimidation.

During Sunday's TV interview, the star said a man came to her in a parking lot in Las Vegas, and said "Leave Trump alone. Forget the story." While looking at her daughter, the man added "That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom."

The latest court filing reportedly showed that Daniels' original lawsuit against Trump over sex and hush money on March 6 has been expanded to accuse Cohen of defamation.

Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, said that she had sex with Trump in July 2006, which was consensual. They stayed in touch after that, but did not have sex again.

Trump married Melania Trump in 2005, and Melania gave birth to their son not long before the alleged sexual encounter.

Weeks before the 2016 presidential election, Daniels received a US$130,000 payment and signed a non-disclosure agreement, which was not signed by Trump himself but by his lawyer Cohen.

While denying the alleged sex relationship between Trump and Daniels, Cohen has said that he paid the hush money out of his own pocket for the actress' silence and he was not reimbursed.

While Daniels sued to void the agreement, Cohen and Trump's other lawyers are seeking US$20 million in damages from the woman for allegedly violating the non-disclosure agreement.

The transaction with Cohen has drawn scrutiny from federal authorities that regulate campaign donations. If the payment was made to benefit Trump politically, it could be viewed as an illegal campaign contribution.  

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