The Stormy Daniels lawsuit drew closer to Donald Trump himself on Thursday, when Michael Avenatti — the southern-California-based lawyer representing the adult video star — filed demands that Trump's business organization preserve all records and documents that have anything to do with Trump's relationship to Daniels, and the $130,000 payoff issued to her by Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen just days before the 2016 presidential election, according to a scoop published by NBC News online Thursday afternoon.
Though Cohen has denied that Trump or the Trump Organization was involved with the hush money payoff, Avenatti's demand for the records says that there are "unmistakable links" between Trump's business and the payment. A top Trump Organization lawyer, Jill Martin, signed a recent court filing seeking to move the lawsuit from Los Angeles Superior Court to a federal court. Additionally, Cohen used his official Trump Organization email account to correspond with banks, arranging the $130,000 payout to Daniels.
Such demands for documents are often a precursor to an official subpoena, and Avenatti said that he plans to utilize, "all legal means at our disposal to uncover the truth about the cover-up and what happened. And this is but one of many tools we will use. When we are done, the truth will be laid bare for the American people."
In his filings Thursday, Avenatti also demanded that two banks — First National Bank and City National Bank, which sent and received the $130,000 payment respectively — preserve all records related to the payoff, saying, "failure to do so may subject you to liability."
The filing signed by Martin was also signed by Trump, in his first public acknowledgement that he is part of the Daniels case. The filing also states that Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, must pay at least $20 million for what Trump, Martin, and Cohen claim were repeated violations of the non-disclosure agreement regarding the affair.
"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 remarkable," Avenatti responded on his Twitter account. "Likely unprecedented in our history. We are NOT going away and we will NOT be intimidated."
Trump has remained uncharacteristically silent about the alleged affair with Daniels and the hush money payoff. But White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said that Trump denies that the affair happened.
CBS News confirmed on Wednesday that Daniels will appear on the iconic program 60 Minutes on Sunday, March 25. In previous interviews, Avenatti has said that Daniels will present "100 percent" proof that the affair with Trump took place, conclusively refuting any Trump denials.Avenatti on Thursday also denied reports that Daniels has complained to fellow adult industry performers that her experience since the news broke in January of the hush money payoff has been a "nightmare." CNN reported that another adult video performer who goes by the name Jack Vegas said that Daniels had expressed her dismay to him, saying that Daniels griped that the ordeal has been "exhausting."
"She has had no substantive discussions with him about Mr. Trump or her situation since May of last year. His statements are completely fabricated," Avenatti told CNN in response to the Vegas quotes. "There are numerous people that have had little to no relationship with Ms. Clifford who are now coming out of the woodwork and claiming all sorts of things. Ninety percent of it is bogus."