If there was one story that didn’t need a fire to be lit under it, it’s the one involving the president, a porn star, and an alleged coverup of an extramarital affair. But that’s exactly what happened Friday morning when the lawyer for Stormy Daniels—the adult-film actress who’s suing Trump in an attempt to dissolve a nondisclosure agreement—claimed she was threatened with physical harm as part of the efforts to keep her quiet.
In an otherwise unremarkable appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, during which typically evasive attorney Michael Avenatti repeatedly plugged Daniels’ upcoming 60 Minutes special which will air later this month, a curveball question from host Mika Brzezinski at the end of the interview led to an explosive claim that Daniels was subject to threats.
Asked directly if Daniels was “threatened in any way” during attempts to keep her quiet, Avenatti replied: “Yes.” Asked further if she was threatened with physical harm, Avenatti again replied: “Yes.” Finally, asked if his client’s life was threatened, the attorney said: “I’m not going to answer that. People will have to tune in to 60 Minutes on March 25.”
Avenatti refused to answer whether or not Trump was personally behind the alleged threats, or whether it was a physical or verbal threat, but repeatedly teased that the special interview with Daniels on CBS will contain incendiary new details of his client’s alleged affair with the president and subsequent attempts to keep it hushed up.
Speaking after Avenatti’s appearance, lawyer and media commentator Jonathan Turley praised Daniels’ attorney and said the explosive new claim is not the kind of statement he would make if he wasn’t certain it was backed up by the evidence and he had trust in his client.
“He has the perfect mix of skills. He’s highly intelligent, he’s highly aggressive, he’s also highly professional. He’s the type of guy you want in your corner when things get rough,” said Turley.
He added: “The Michael I know would not be making any allegations that he couldn’t back up. He’s a very tied-down guy, this isn’t his first fight. He was in litigation with me as a student, he’s been a very successful lawyer. He’s not someone that is given to bravado or reckless comments.”
Avenatti’s allegation is the latest escalation in the squabbling between the Daniels camp and the Trump team. The attorney said it was “time to buckle up” after Trump didn’t respond to the adult-film star’s offer to return a $130,000 stash of hush money in exchange for the freedom to talk publicly about the alleged affair that took place between the two.
Avenatti has also claimed that multiple women have reached out to him inquiring about potential legal action against Trump, although he didn’t mention the nature of the legal action that the women were exploring, and did not say if it was related to allegations of sexual misconduct.
There have also been reports that Trump’s lawyers are seeking to block CBS from airing the 60 Minutes special featuring Daniels. Daniels is rapidly crowdfunding cash to help her pay for the possible $1 million penalty she’ll incur each time she talks publicly about the allegations.