Stormy Daniels Sues Trump for Defamation

Stormy Daniels Sues Trump for Defamation

Stephanie Clifford, the former adult-film actress professionally known as Stormy Daniels, filed a lawsuit on Monday against President Donald Trump in Manhattan federal court, accusing him of defaming her in a recent tweet.

Mr. Trump posted the tweet on April 18, in response to a sketch Ms. Clifford released of a man who allegedly threatened her in 2011. According to Ms. Clifford’s lawsuit, a few weeks after she had agreed to discuss with a magazine an alleged sexual encounter she had with Mr. Trump, the man approached her in a Las Vegas parking lot and said, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.”

A day after the man’s sketch was released, Mr. Trump tweeted: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”

In the seven-page lawsuit, lawyers for Ms. Clifford called the tweet “defamatory” in suggesting Ms. Clifford falsely accused an individual of committing a crime against her. The lawsuit seeks at least $75,000 in damages, saying Ms. Clifford had to hire bodyguards and suffered reputational damage as a result of the tweet.

The lawsuit alleges Mr. Trump “knew his statement was false or was made with reckless disregard for the truth.”

The White House representatives didn’t immediately return a request for comment on the lawsuit. They have previously denied any sexual encounter took place between Mr. Trump and Ms. Clifford.

Ms. Clifford has said the incident involving the alleged threat, which she first revealed last month in a “60 Minutes” interview, occurred in the presence of her infant daughter. Ms. Clifford alleged the man looked at her daughter and said, “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.”

Ms. Clifford didn’t go the police because she was frightened and concerned the disclosure could affect her relationship with her husband at the time, according to the lawsuit. She revealed the man’s sketch on “The View” on April 17, after working with a forensic artist to recreate his face from memory.

The lawsuit said the magazine didn’t publish the article at the time, alleging Mr. Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen threatened “the magazine into not proceeding with the story.”

Lawyers for Mr. Cohen didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Cohen made a $130,000 payment to Ms. Clifford just before the 2016 presidential election to keep her from discussing what she has described as a one-night affair with Mr. Trump in a Lake Tahoe hotel room in 2006. Mr. Cohen is now the target of a continuing criminal investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors, who seized records related to Ms. Clifford’s payment as part of the investigation, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

Mr. Trump previously denied knowledge of the payment, but appeared to reverse his previous statements in a Thursday interview on Fox News. Asked about the extent of Mr. Cohen’s work for him, Mr. Trump said Thursday: “He represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.”

Ms. Clifford also filed a lawsuit in February against Messrs. Trump and Cohen in Los Angeles federal court, seeking to invalidate her nondisclosure agreement that was tied to the payment. Mr. Cohen has said he would assert his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in that case, and he was granted a 90-day reprieve from the civil lawsuit, as the criminal investigation continues in New York.

— Rebecca Ballhaus contributed to this article.

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