Trump lawyer seeks $20 million damages from Stormy Daniels

US President Donald Trump and adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels. (AFP)
Updated 17 March 2018
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Trump lawyer seeks $20 million damages from Stormy Daniels

WASHINGTON: A law firm representing US President Donald Trump and the corporation that paid porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 in what she called hush money over an alleged affair with Trump said in a court filing that it was seeking at least $20 million in damages for multiple violations of a nondisclosure agreement.
In a filing with the US District Court for the Central District of California made public on Friday, the Blakely Law Group also asked for a lawsuit by Daniels that seeks to nullify the agreement to be moved to a federal district court from a county court.
Brent Blakely, who filed the action on behalf of Essential Consultants LLC and Trump, did not reply to a request for comment.
Under the nondisclosure agreement, Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, could be subjected to a $1 million penalty each time the deal was broken.
Daniels has alleged that she had an affair with Trump that began in 2006 and lasted several months.
Michael Cohen, a private lawyer for Trump, has said he paid Daniels $130,000 of his own money during the 2016 presidential election campaign. Cohen has not explained why he made the payment and has not said if Trump was aware of it.
Attorney Michael Avenatti, who represents Daniels, said on Friday, “This is simply more of the same bullying tactics from the president and Mr. Cohen. They are now attempting to remove this case in order to increase their chances that the matter will ultimately be decided in private arbitration, behind closed doors, outside of public view and scrutiny.
“To put it simply — they want to hide the truth from the American people. We will oppose this effort at every turn.”
Avenatti has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles claiming Trump never signed the nondisclosure agreement, rendering it null and void.
“The fact that a sitting president is pursuing over $20 million in bogus ‘damages’ against a private citizen, who is only trying to tell the public what really happened, is truly remarkable,” Avenatti said.
In a letter to Cohen on Monday, Daniels offered to return the $130,000 to an account designated by Trump so she could be released from the agreement, which she signed in October 2016. Cohen ignored the offer.
Earlier on Friday, Avenatti told MSNBC and CNN that Daniels had been physically threatened and warned to remain silent about her relationship with Trump.
Avenatti would not provide details about the threat. He said Clifford would elaborate on it during a CBS “60 Minutes” interview due to be broadcast on March 25.
He told Reuters on Friday that six women had been in touch with his law firm to describe relationships with Trump, and that two had signed nondisclosure agreements.


Trump backers seize on case of jailed UK far-right activist

Updated 3 min 55 sec ago
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Trump backers seize on case of jailed UK far-right activist

  • Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, widely known by his pseudonym Tommy Robinson, was imprisoned for 13 months earlier this year for live-streaming outside a court
  • Conspiracy theories about his case have spread wildly on social media, drawing particular attention in the United States among supporters of the so-called “alt-right”

LONDON: Supporters of US President Donald Trump are taking up the cause of an anti-Islam activist jailed in Britain for contempt of court, raising fears of a far-right revival.
Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, widely known by his pseudonym Tommy Robinson, was imprisoned for 13 months earlier this year for live-streaming outside a court in breach of reporting restrictions around a trial.
Robinson is the founder of the English Defense League (EDL), a fringe group protesting perceived threats from Islamic extremism, and he has a string of convictions on charges including assault, fraud and drugs possession.
The name he uses is that of a well-known football hooligan.
Conspiracy theories about his case have spread wildly on social media, drawing particular attention in the United States among supporters of the so-called “alt-right.”
The campaign spread further after Donald Trump Jr, the US president’s son, retweeted a comment about Robinson.
Trump himself drew severe condemnation in November after retweeting three misleading anti-Muslim videos originally posted by Britain First, another far-right group.
Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist, defended Robinson on London’s LBC radio last week, reportedly describing him off-mic as “the backbone” of Britain.
The new cause celebre of the populist far-right in Britain even breached diplomatic circles after Sam Brownback, Trump’s envoy for international religious freedom, raised the issue with British ambassador Kim Darroch at a June lunch.
But anti-racism group Hope Not Hate said the notion that Robinson had been wrongly imprisoned was “incorrect and conspiratorial,” calling him a “violent far-right racist.”
Times newspaper columnist Francis Eliott warned that the Robinson case, allied with disillusionment over Brexit and fear of immigration, could create “a far-right revival” — all “powered by alt-right cash.”
Two recent pro-Robinson protests in central London, at which some demonstrators made Nazi salutes, saw violent confrontations with police and counter-demonstrators.
US Republican Congressman Paul Gosar came under heavy criticism for speaking at one of the rallies last Saturday during Trump’s visit to Britain.
“It is inexplicable for a sitting US congressman to speak at, let alone attend a rally for someone responsible for spreading as much hate and bigotry as Tommy Robinson, Imraan Siddiqi, executive director of the Arizona branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement.
Robinson gained notoriety in Britain after the EDL staged demonstrations in 2013 which often ended in clashes with anti-fascist demonstrators.
He was previously jailed for using someone else’s passport to enter the United States, which had refused him entry because of drug offenses, and has a number of other convictions.
In May, Robinson was arrested outside a court in Leeds in northern England and pleaded guilty to the contempt charge.
He was given 10 months in jail and another three months for breaching a suspended sentence for another contempt charge related to a separate case.
Reporting restrictions are imposed in all court proceedings in Britain, and are intended to avoid media reports that could influence the jury.
Raheem Kassam, a former editor-in-chief of Breitbart News London and one-time top aide to leading Brexiteer Nigel Farage, told AFP he was working to “internationalize” Robinson’s cause and organize support rallies.
“When the left see an injustice, it rallies an international caucus of people together... and we don’t do that enough on our side,” he said, adding the shift in tactics was “just the start.”
The US-based Middle East Forum — a right-wing think-tank where Kassam is a fellow — is also helping Robinson “legally, diplomatically and politically,” according to its director Gregg Roman.
It has spent tens of thousands of dollars footing the bills for Robinson’s defense and protests — including Gosar’s trip to London.
A spokesman for Hope Not Hate decried the increasing American interest in the case, describing Robinson as “a lightning rod for an international coterie of far-right, anti-Muslim activists and extremists.”
Noting a “clear plan” by alt-right figures like Bannon “to pressure our authorities to ameliorate his sentence,” he added: “These attempts to sway our legal system and the paths of justice must not prevail.”
Robinson is currently appealing his sentence, with a three-judge panel set to rule by the end of the month.