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.


Egypt denies Sinai battle is choking off food and medicine supplies

Updated 10 min 47 sec ago
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Egypt denies Sinai battle is choking off food and medicine supplies

  • Human Rights Watch warned of a wider humanitarian crisis if North Sinai continued to be cut off from the Egyptian mainland, saying the army’s actions “border on collective punishment.”
  • Air strikes and raids have killed scores of suspected militants, the military says, as it imposes curfews and tight movement restrictions around towns in North Sinai.

CAIRO: An Egyptian military campaign to defeat Daesh militants in the northern Sinai Peninsula is choking essential food and medical supplies to thousands of residents in the desert region, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. The army denied the charge.
The New York-based organization warned of a wider humanitarian crisis if North Sinai continued to be cut off from the Egyptian mainland, saying the army’s actions “border on collective punishment.”
The army launched an operation in February to crush militants who have waged an insurgency that has killed hundreds of soldiers, police and residents over many years.
Air strikes and raids have killed scores of suspected militants since then, the military says, as it imposes curfews and tight movement restrictions around towns in North Sinai. The army has said it is winning the battle.
A military spokesman denied there were shortages, saying it was providing food and medical support throughout the areas it operated in, The HRW report had used “undocumented sources” in its report, he said.
“Thousands of food parcels have been and are being provided to people in North Sinai,” Col. Tamer Al-Rifai, the spokesman, added.
International news outlets are prevented from traveling to North Sinai to report.
Residents said food supplies, medicine and fuel were insufficient and that movement restrictions meant most people were unable to leave the region, HRW reported.
“A counter-terrorism operation that imperils the flow of essential goods to hundreds of thousands of civilians is unlawful and unlikely to stem violence,” HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson said.
The report said authorities had banned the sale of petrol and cut communication lines, water and electricity in some areas of North Sinai including near the border with the Gaza Strip.
Residents told Reuters last month they often waited for hours for bread handouts which were not guaranteed to arrive.
Defeating the militants and restoring security after years of unrest that followed Egypt’s 2011 popular uprising has been a promise of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who was re-elected in March in a landslide victory against no real opposition.
El-Sisi’s critics say he has presided over Egypt’s worst crackdown on dissent. Supporters say such measures are needed to bring stability and improve the country’s hard-hit economy.
In Sinai, analysts and foreign diplomats say heavy-handed military tactics including air strikes and demolitions of populated areas have failed to defeat the insurgency.