Charles Harder, the attorney who destroyed Gawker, has joined President Trump’s legal battle with Stormy Daniels. And, according to court papers, Trump wants at least $20 million in damages from the porn star and erotic dancer for breaking their deal and talking about their relationship.
On Friday afternoon, Trump’s attorneys filed court documents to remove Daniels’ lawsuit against him from Los Angeles County to federal court.
It’s the latest blow in the battle between the reality TV president and Daniels, whom he bedded at a 2006 golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.
Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump last week in a bid to quash a “hush agreement” she signed days before the presidential election. Daniels argues the nondisclosure contract is void because it was signed only by Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and not the president himself.
Cohen drafted up the agreement under a Delaware LLC, Essential Consultants, and paid Daniels $130,000 for her silence.
A notice of removal filed by attorney Brent Blakeley, who represents Trump and Essential Consultants, states that the NDA that Daniels signed comes with stiff penalties: $1 million per breach of the confidentiality provisions.
Daniels filed her lawsuit on March 6, knowing that Essential Consultants had initiated an arbitration proceeding on the matter, court papers allege.
On March 12, Daniels’ attorney sent Cohen a written proposal to make the NDA “null and void” in return for the $130,000 payout.
But, Trump’s legal team argues, Daniels violated their October 2016 settlement agreement at least 20 times. They argue Essential Consultants and/or Trump can collect as much as $20 million from the porn star.
Still, the legal filings are the closest President Trump has come to acknowledging he’s the mystery man named in the NDA.
In the agreement, the parties used aliases: “Peggy Peterson” and “David Dennison.”
Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, hinted to the commander in chief’s admission on Twitter, after the latest court filing made headlines.
“How can President Donald Trump seek $20 million in damages against my client based on an agreement that he and Mr. Cohen claim Mr. Trump never was a party to and knew nothing about?” Avenatti wrote.
Avenatti added the hashtags: “#notwellthoughtout #sloppy #checkmate.”
He continued bashing Trump in a series of tweets Friday night.
“The fact that a sitting president is pursuing over $20M in bogus ‘damages’ against a private citizen, who is only trying to tell the public what really happened, is remarkable,” the legal eagle opined. “Likely unprecedented in our history. We are NOT going away and we will NOT be intimidated.”
Avenatti called the filing “yet another bullying tactic from the president and Mr. Cohen” that would only lead to “private arbitration, thus hiding the truth from the public.”
The court maneuver followed allegations Friday morning that Daniels had been threatened with “physical harm” if she went public over her year-long affair with the president.
“My client was physically threatened to stay silent about what she knew about Donald Trump,” Avenatti told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Friday.
Speaking on New Day, Avenatti declined to say whether Trump or anyone close to him was behind the alleged intimidation, which he said had continued after Trump became president. He said Daniels will reveal more in her 60 Minutes interview scheduled for March 25.
Harder and Brent Blakely, the latest attorneys to enter the fray, did not return messages on Friday night.
Before his involvement in the Daniels case, Blakely represented high profile clients from the entertainment world—including socialite Paris Hilton in a 2010 suit against Hallmark Cards after the company used a photo of her and her catch phrase, “That’s hot,” in one of its cards. The case was settled.
He was also involved in a 2011 suit over the film distribution rights for a series of 1969 Jimi Hendrix concerts at the center of four decades of legal wrangling between the musician’s successors and the events’ producers.
Harder, famous for suing media outlets, represented Hulk Hogan in his lawsuit against Gawker Media for publishing a sex tape of the wrestler.
He also represented first lady Melania Trump, who filed two defamation suits against the Daily Mail over an article that claimed her modeling agency was also an escort service. The cases were reportedly settled last year for $2.9 million.