Stormy Daniels Sues Donald Trump For Defamation

Stormy Daniels is suing the President for defamation after he accused her of lying about a threat made to her seven years ago.

Adult film star Stormy Daniels has filed a defamation lawsuit against President Trump after he alleged on Twitter that the composite sketch her attorney released of a man who allegedly threatened her several years ago about going public about her relationship with the President was a lie:

Porn star Stormy Daniels is expanding her legal assault on President Donald Trump, filing a new lawsuit over his use of Twitter to undermine her claim that an unidentified man threatened her in a bid to keep her quiet about her “intimate relationship” with Trump about a decade ago.

Daniels’ suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Monday afternoon, alleges defamation by Trump in an April 19 tweet that suggested she fabricated her story about being approached in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 by a man who told her to “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.”

According to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, the unknown man referred to her child, saying, “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.”

Daniels recently prepared and released a sketch of the man who she said approached her, but Trump’s tweet ridiculed the sketch and appeared to dispute that the entire episode ever occurred.

“A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it!)” Trump wrote.

The new suit, previewed by Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti last Friday, claims Trump undercut the adult film actress’ reputation by suggesting the story was fabricated.

“Mr. Trump’s statement falsely attacks the veracity of Ms. Clifford’s account of the threatening incident that took place in 2011. It also operates to accuse Ms. Clifford of committing a crime under New York law, as well as the law of numerous other states, in that it effectively states that Ms. Clifford falsely accused an individual of committing a crime against her when no such crime occurred,” the complaint says. “Mr. Trump’s statement is false and defamatory.”

The suit notes that Trump’s tweet was linked to another user’s message suggesting that the sketch is of Daniels’ ex-husband.

Daniels claims she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 and thereafter exchanged calls and messages with him. When stories about the alleged episode began to emerge in the 2016 campaign, Trump denied her account. A White House spokesman reiterated the denial last month.

Avenatti suggested on Twitter on Monday that Trump knew about the alleged threat and had some role in it.

“He is well aware of what transpired and his complicity. We fully intend on bringing it to light,” the lawyer said

The roots of this story lie in a claim that Michael Avenatti, who is representing Daniels in connection with the legal matters arising out of the October 2016 agreement under which Daniels received $130,000 in exchange for her silence regarding her relationship with the President, that Daniels was threatened with physical harm in the past to remain quiet about her relationship with Trump. Daniels provided some of the details surrounding that threat in her interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes in late March and, earlier this month, made public a composite sketch of the man she asserts threatened her in a parking lot in Los Angeles some seven years ago. Trump responded to this shortly there after by essentially calling Daniels a liar in a Tweet:

This isn’t the only lawsuit that Daniels has filed against Trump, of course. In early March, Daniels filed suit in California state court seeking to invalidate the October 2016 agreement on the ground that there was never a valid agreement since, among other reasons, Trump had never signed it himself. Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen is also a Defendant in this action and, in response to the Complaint, both Defendants filed paperwork to remove the case to Federal Court, asserting that Daniels is on the hook for up to $20,000,000 in damages for violations of the agreement, and seeking to have the matter sent to arbitration pursuant to the terms of the agreement. The most recent development in this case, of course, is the fact that it has been put on hold for ninety days based on the fact that Cohen is apparently the subject of a criminal investigation in New York City and expects to be indicted in the next ninety days. Cohen’s attorneys have also stated that their client would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in connection with any questions that he may be asked in the civil case regarding the agreement since it is apparently part of the New York investigation.

This also isn’t the only defamation case that the President is facing. Last year, Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice filed a lawsuit against Trump alleging that he had defamed her when he stated that she was lying in October 2016 when she came forward as one of the women claiming that she had been sexually harassed by Trump when she was on the reality show. Trump responded by attempting to get the lawsuit dismissed on a number of grounds, including the fact that he is the President of the United States. However, the state trial court Judge presiding over that case allowed the case to go forward.

If Trump tries a similar blocking maneuver in the Daniels case, it seems likely that the outcome will be the same thanks to a Supreme Court decision in the case that ultimately led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment. In Clinton v. Jones, a decision handed down by the Supreme Court in 1997, a largely unanimous Court ruled that a Federal Court civil case brought against former President Bill Clinton by Paula Jones for events that occurred while he was Governor of Arkansas and she was a state employee could proceed forward notwithstanding the fact that the Defendant is the sitting President of the United States. Jones, of course, had filed a lawsuit alleging that Clinton had sexually harassed her in an incident dating back to 1991, claiming that Clinton had her summoned and proceeded to proposition her and engage in other behavior of a sexual nature.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that the fact that Clinton was President of the United States does not, on its own, grant him any kind of immunity from civil lawsuits for conduct that occurred prior to the time he became President, nor does it require a court hearing such a case to put the case on hold until after the President has left office. To the extent any such immunity existed, it could be found in a concurrence filed by Associate Justice Stephen Breyer in which he stated that there could be some circumstances where a President could seek to delay a civil lawsuit from going forward if it could be shown that responding to and participating in the lawsuit could somehow be shown to interfere with official Presidential duties. Breyer was careful to note, though, that such circumstances would seem to be quite limited and that, in any case, they did not exist with the underlying lawsuit in Clinton v. Jones. Thus, the lawsuit went forward, which of course led directly to a deposition in which Clinton lied under oath about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, which led directly to a crisis that consumed much of the last two years of Clinton’s Presidency.

Given the Jones precedent, it may well be that Trump’s attorneys decide against trying to block the lawsuit altogether given that there really doesn’t appear to be a good faith argument that the precedent should be ignored or that there is some exception to the ruling that would apply in Trump’s case. If that happens, then this case could move forward at a more rapid case than any of the other cases filed against Trump. Part of this is due to the fact that Avenatti has shown himself to be a fairly aggressive litigator and seems especially eager to get a chance to depose Trump in connection with his client’s claims against the President. In that case, things could get very interesting very quickly.

Here’s the Complaint:

Clifford v. Trump by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Things no fiction writer could get away with, #902: a president is brought down by a porn star.

    Trump has made life into satire.

  2. Kylopod says:

    @michael reynolds: Well, we already had a president partly brought down by a guy with a porn alias.

  3. Kathy says:

    This is all good, but both Stormy and her lawyer are out for money. Mangolini might do something smart and settle, and then all the evidence which might be found over the course of discovery and trial go away.

    Hopefully Clifford and her lawyer are too greedy that no settlement offer will satisfy them.

  4. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    This guy, Avenatti, is playing Dennison like a piano.

    Mangolini might do something smart and settle

    I don’t think so…because then she will tell her side of the story. And it will tell the other dozen or so women how to come after him.

  5. CSK says:

    What I still don’t get is why Trump is so desperate to muzzle Daniels. Yes, I know she might have dick pix, but given that she only slept with him once, that seems less and less likely. And none of the other women who’ve accused him of harassing/assaulting them have produced anything like that. And Daniels said that when he called her, it was with Schiller acting as some sort of telephonic intermediary.

    Forget sparing Melania’s feelings. According to what he told Karen MacDougal, he and Melania were occupying separate bedrooms a year after they were married, and he was equally dismissive of his wife to Daniels. In any case, while Melania probably isn’t up there intellectually with Marie Curie, she’s shrewd enough to understand the purely transactional nature of her relationship with Trump. He married arm candy; she married money.

    The Trumpkins either don’t believe Daniels, or they don’t care if he banged the entire Folies Bergere, the Rockettes, and Anne of Green Gables.


  6. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: I suspect Trump’s real fear is that she’ll say he was really bad at it.

  7. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08: What do you mean she will say? She already called it “textbook generic.” I guess that’s not quite as bad as saying he’s the absolutely most abominable lover she’s ever had the misfortune of encountering, but we’re talking about a guy who literally harassed a comedian for 30 years for making fun of his hands.

  8. Kathy says:



    I think we’re short of some facts and an army of psychiatrists if we want to answer that question.

    Maybe she has a sex tape. I’m sure the Orange Clown would be embarrassed to be seen gobbling blue pills and pumping furiously at a vacuum thingy.

  9. CSK says:

    If you haven’t read the back story behind “the best sex I ever had” tale (tail?), do so. It’s hilarious:

    Graydon Carter, the editor of Spy magazine in the 1980s, where the phrase “short-fingered vulgarian” was introduced to the public, has written about Trump spending the past 30 years sending him photos of his hands to prove that he does indeed have long fingers.

  10. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: Thank you for the article. I actually had not heard until now that it remains unconfirmed that Marla Maples ever actually said those words–though of course I strongly suspected it, just like with the Harold Bornstein letter. Just as it defies all common sense that Donald Trump could be in excellent physical health, it defies all common sense that Mr. “Grab ‘Em By the Pussy” could be an excellent lover. Add to that the preposterous use of superlatives–“best sex I’ve ever had,” “healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency”–and you know it’s got his stamp all over it. As I said last night in reaction to Bornstein’s confession, it feels like this whole thing–this entire edifice of absurd lies upon which Trump has constructed his public image for the past several decades–is in the process of unraveling. What implication this will have for his presidency is hard to say, but it’s sure to be Schadenfreudtastic.

  11. James Pearce says:

    So if she wins, Trump just pays her more money, right? Or does he have to resign too?

  12. CSK says:


    If you look at his run for the presidency as a branding operation, it makes a certain amount of sense from Trump’s standpoint. Diabolical sense, to be sure, but still sense. He didn’t expect to win, so he figured that the tower of lies on which he’s built his life would remain reasonably intact. His cult members would continue to believe anything he said, and none of the rest of us would have bothered to undertake any serious investigation of his past and present.

  13. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    This is all about discovery. Stormy doesn’t need another 130k, she can do a book deal for ten times that. Personal appearances at a good 30 or 40k a pop. Endorsement deals. Her own porn site. I’ve never seen her acting, but if she’s any good she might even get a shot at some indie films. A clothing line? Stormy-wear? If she’s smart – and she certainly does seem smart – she’ll earn ten million in the next two years, minimum, and possibly much more.

    She’s a role model now, a defender of women’s rights, a hero. Trump doesn’t have the kind of money it’d take to shut her up, and I suspect she’s smart enough to ride this train through to the end. She could end up in history books as the woman who brought down a president, and that’s got to be heady stuff for a porn star.

  14. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: I mostly agree, except I think you’re crediting Trump with too much cognizance as to how becoming president would make his fraudulent career vulnerable to exposure. He may have initially intended his run as a branding operation, but I think as it commenced he grew more serious about it. As I wrote earlier today:

    A lot of people forget about the circumstances of his 2011 flirtation with a run for the GOP nomination. When he first started talking about it in February of that year while launching his “birther” crusade, he quickly shot to the top of the field according to several polls, and he maintained that lead for the next two months. Then, a few crucial events happened in rapid succession: (1) The release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate (2) The humiliating White House Correspondents’ Dinner in which Obama and Seth Meyers literally laughed at Trump to his face (3) The capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden. Trump’s poll numbers very suddenly collapsed.

    Less than a week later, Trump announced he wasn’t running.

    I suspect that if Trump had seen a similar collapse in his poll numbers during 2015, he might have dropped out of the race. (In fact he basically said that in an interview with Chuck Todd at the time.) I have heard people suggest that the reason he chose not to run in 2011 was because he recognized Obama as a tougher opponent to beat. I think that’s BS. I really don’t think he thinks that far ahead. I think both times he was looking at his poll numbers. In 2011 they collapsed, so he ran like a scared puppy, but four years later they stayed and proved remarkably resilient, so he stuck around to bask in the adulation. It was not, as some people think, part of some master plan.

  15. Tyrell says:

    Is she represented by Gloria Allred too? Whenever there is some money to be made, we see Allred.

  16. CSK says:


    Daniels is represented by Michael Avenatti.

  17. CSK says:


    Yes; I see that, and I agree that Trump doesn’t think far ahead. But perhaps that’s why he thought he could get away with his branding operation. It simply never occurred to him that anyone would seriously investigate his past.

    Trump also flirted with running in 2000 and 1988. The 1988 flirtation was initiated by the success of The Art of the Deal.

    I forget exactly when this was–quite some years ago–but someone asked Trump if he’d ever consider running for president. He replied, “But the women…”

  18. Kylopod says:


    But perhaps that’s why he thought he could get away with his branding operation. It simply never occurred to him that anyone would seriously investigate his past.

    Agreed. Also, it’s important not to forget that the things for which Trump fears exposure are not necessarily the same as what would scare a conventional politician. He doesn’t mind being known as a womanizer; in fact he’s proud of it. But he does mind being known as a pervert with a tiny wee-wee. Similarly, I don’t think he cares if people think he’s a shady businessman, but he cares a lot if they think he’s a failed businessman.

    It’s all about his macho, male-adolescent bravado, wanting to be regarded as the biggest, the best at everything. It doesn’t matter all that much to him whether he comes off as amoral, unethical, or even criminal to some extent–so long as none of those things undermine the image he wishes to cultivate. We can see that clearly by how much he obsessed over the pee tape while paying comparatively less attention to charges we’d think would be a lot more damning and pose a far greater legal and political danger. (Of course you can’t totally separate the pee-tape allegation from the possibility that he’s been blackmailed, which would be a pretty substantive scenario if true. It’s kind of a chicken-and-egg situation, where Trump’s petty personal obsessions are what drive the larger story of what may or may not have happened.)

  19. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    This is all about discovery.

    Sure, but what magic arrow do we think we’ll find in discovery? His tax returns? Payments from Russia? The pee tape? Evidence that he paid for an abortion?

    If she’s smart – and she certainly does seem smart – she’ll earn ten million in the next two years, minimum, and possibly much more.

    Maybe. There’s not much money in the porn biz anymore so she should probably get Jenna Jameson’s literary agent on the horn.

    I dispute that she’s “smart.” She may be bright, but she slept with a married man she wasn’t, by her own account, that into and ten years later, a month before the election, she took his hush money. You know she was shopping her story around at the time that Michael Cohen paid her, right?

    A hero? A role model? A defender of women’s rights? No, man, she’s awful too.

  20. PJ says:

    @James Pearce:

    So if she wins, Trump just pays her more money, right? Or does he have to resign too?

    Peter Thiel bankrolled Hulk Hogan against Gawker, maybe there is some liberal billionaire who has promised to pay Stephanie Clifford quite a bit if she refuses to settle and take the lawsuit as far as possible.

    Wouldn’t exactly surprise me.

  21. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    I don’t think you understand the power of celebrity.

  22. michael reynolds says:

    Rudy Giuliani just blew his brains out on Hannity. Admitted Trump paid Cohen to pay off Daniels. And for fun admitted Trump’s legal team is unnerved by the Cohen issue because neither Trump nor Cohen is telling Trump’s own lawyers what’s in Cohen’s documents.


    His own lawyers cannot prepare a case because Trump is scared to tell them what he has done. Let that sink in.

  23. Mister Bluster says:


  24. michael reynolds says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    I actually saw a comment from you that is now gone.

  25. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Whoopsie. Well, exeunt Emmet T. Flood, I suspect. Like he needs this clusterfwck?

  26. HarvardLaw92 says:


    He should, if he has any sense at all. This is rapidly turning into the legal malpractice Olympics.

  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @One American:


    Morons Are Getting Arrested

    My Attorney Got Arrested

    Manipulating America’s Gullible Assholes

    They just write themselves after a while …

  28. CSK says:

    Well, the reaction of the Trumpkins is what I suspected it would be:

    “It doesn’t matter. Trump is the greatest president since Reagan, and he will surpass Reagan.”

    “i don’t care and neither do AMERICANS.”

    “Old news.”

    But my favorite is that Mueller is just jealous because he never got to bang gorgeous porn stars.

  29. James Pearce says:


    Wouldn’t exactly surprise me.

    I’d be surprised. Liberals with money don’t engage. They escape.

    @michael reynolds:

    I don’t think you understand the power of celebrity.

    Trump today on Twitter: “These agreements are very common among celebrities and people of wealth.”

    I understand it all too well, buddy. I just don’t live in that world.

  30. CSK says:
  31. teve tory says:

    Whoopsie. Well, exeunt Emmet T. Flood, I suspect. Like he needs this clusterfwck?

    No, the process is

    1) join trump
    2) get humiliated
    3) leave

    Flood hasn’t been there long enough to get humiliated yet. That’ll take at least a week.

  32. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    And for fun admitted Trump’s legal team is unnerved by the Cohen issue because neither Trump nor Cohen is telling Trump’s own lawyers what’s in Cohen’s documents.

    I didn’t see that in the NYTimes article I read, but it didn’t include the whole interview. Do you have a link?

  33. Mister Bluster says:

    @michael reynolds:..yes. It was a Big News Flash about Rudy’s bombshell. I did not see that U had scooped me till after I made the post so I deleted it.

  34. michael reynolds says:

    I was ‘reporting’ on a rather confused MSNBC reaction in real-time as they were handing off from Maddow to O’Donnell and I was mistaken in the attribution. It was not Giuliani who said that, it was NYT reporter Mike Schmitt – he of the endless bombshell reports.

    I believe this is the original Schmitt interview with Maddow. (Preceded by an interminable ad.) .

  35. Mister Bluster says:

    @One cares
    …that SATAN’S FAMILY VALUES REPUBLICAN President Pud is a self confessed sexual molestor of women?

    Maybe your Sunday School teacher does but she would be the last one.