Lawyer for Stormy Daniels grilled by lawyer Shannon Bream
On Sunday, March 25, "porn star" Stormy Daniels (real name: Stephanie Gregory Clifford) is scheduled to appear on CBS's 60 Minutes in an interview recorded earlier this month. Failing CNN prime-time host Anderson Cooper, who moonlights as a correspondent for 60 Minutes, conducted the interview. Daniels/Clifford has been in the news recently because of her claim of having had a consensual intimate relationship – or, more accurately, a series of alleged intimate encounters – with Donald J. Trump more than a decade ago.
Stormy Daniels on CBS 60 Minutes, March 25, 2018.
This case is noteworthy because Daniels/Clifford recently filed a lawsuit to get out of the confidentiality agreement she signed in 2016 in exchange for a $130,000 payment from Donald Trump's attorney, Michael Cohen. Meanwhile, Cohen is suing Daniels for violating the confidentiality agreement. The case is therefore going to wind up in court. Opponents of President Trump hope the resulting imbroglio will contribute to their ongoing efforts to embarrass, weaken, and ultimately take down the 45th president.
Meanwhile, Cooper is scheduled to interview another Trump-accuser – in this case, model and former Playboy "Playmate" Karen McDougal, who has also come forward to allege an intimate relationship with Trump. Cooper's interview with McDougal is scheduled to be broadcast live on CNN on Cooper's program, AC 360°, on Thursday, March 22, between 8 and 10 P.M. EDT.
Karen McDougal – another Trump-accuser.
As the Los Angeles Times reported on March 21, "[o]n Tuesday, former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal filed suit in Los Angeles to abrogate her own confidentiality agreement, saying she wishes to tell the world of an alleged affair with Trump." Fortunately for her, she – like Daniels/Clifford – has found an enthusiastic listener in Cooper.
Why is any of this important and worth more than a moment's notice? Well, the Los Angeles Times, in another article on March 21 titled "In a one-two legal punch, Trump faces new jeopardy from sex scandals," put the developments in context:
President Trump faced new legal and political jeopardy Tuesday as a former Playboy Playmate and alleged paramour sued to break a confidentiality agreement and a judge rejected his move to quash a lawsuit stemming from a charge of sexual assault.
The developments, coming on opposite coasts, promised many more months – if not years – of legal skirmishing, keeping Trump's personal conduct at the fore of this election season and complicating GOP efforts to protect their congressional majorities in November.
Taking this story to a somewhat higher level: On Tuesday, March 20, Shannon Bream, the host of Fox News@Night with Shannon Bream on the Fox News Channel (M-F 11 P.M. E.T.), interviewed Michael Avenatti, the attorney for Daniels/Clifford. The interview (video here) is noteworthy because it showcased the skills of Bream, who is not only an experienced reporter, program host, and interviewer, but an attorney with extensive experience covering the Supreme Court. In light of her background, Bream was able to intelligently question and challenge Avenatti, unlike the other cable news hosts who have welcomed Avenatti but who lacked an understanding of the law and who are part of the Resist Trump movement that hopes to see the president impeached.
Shannon Bream interviews Michael Avenatti, Fox News@Night, March 20, 2018.
Following is a transcript of the Bream-Avenatti interview, provided by Fox News.
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Joining me now, Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti. Great to have you with us tonight, sir.
MICHAEL AVENATTI: Thanks for having me, Shannon. Really appreciate it.
BREAM: You want to say anything more about those physical threats, whether they were reported to law enforcement, what you planned to do about them?
AVENATTI: Not at this time, but I think, when viewers tuned in to the 60 Minutes interview this Sunday, they're going to learn in detail about those threats. And they're going to be able to measure for themselves the credibility of my client.
BREAM: Well, it sounds like you, and she, want to continue proceeding as if the nondisclosure agreement is not valid. I know that you have filed the lawsuit to that effect. In the meantime, who is funding your services?
AVENATTI: Well, I'm basically doing it pro bono at this point. We've set up a GoFundMe page. It's actually not on the GoFundMe page. It's a Crowd Justice page in an effort to raise money. But other than that, no one.
BREAM: Well, you know, a lot of folks have questions about why now? Why this is coming to light? Why it that happened ten years ago or more when the president wasn't the president? Why it's grabbing so many headlines? Let me ask you about this, on your own web site, you say that, "While in college and later in law school, Michael worked at a political opposition research and media firm run by Rahm Emanuel, who later became White House chief of staff and is presently, the mayor of Chicago. During his time there, Michael worked on over 150 campaigns in 42 States, including multiple gubernatorial and congressional campaigns. Including Joe Biden's U.S. Senate campaign."
Is any of this political in nature for you?
AVENATTI: Absolutely not. That was 20-25 years ago, and it's laughable that people are pointing to that is the reason behind this. I haven't spoken to Rahm Emanuel since January 2nd or 3rd, 2007. Now, why do I know that? Because I ran into him in the Rio airport after coming back from a holiday, for New Year's down in Brazil, back in '07.
I haven't e-mailed him, texted him, communicated with him. I haven't had any communication with Joe Biden or anyone else on the left. The idea that this is politically motivated is laughable. This is about a search for the truth. I don't care if you're on the right, the left, or in the center, you deserve to know the facts. That's what this is about, period.
BREAM: OK. You're client, Ms. Clifford, her real name. We all refer to her, Stormy Daniels, but Stephanie Clifford. In the nondisclosure agreement, I know that there's a lot of language there talking about the fact that part of the deal that she apparently agreed to at the time, whether it's valid or not, as you do not contest.
It talks about a lot of tangible property, it talks about potential text messages, still images. All those kinds of things and part of the deal was that she would make sure all of it was turned over to the relevant counsel, or it was destroyed. Does she still now maintain any of those materials? Does she plan to go public with any of those?
AVENATTI: I'm not going to answer that question. That's a question for her. But what I will say is this: there was never any deal because the parties to the deal did not execute the agreement. Your viewers know that if there's a written contract if everybody doesn't sign it, there's no deal.
And in this situation, everybody did not sign the deal. Donald Trump never signed the deal, and there was a consideration that my client was to receive beyond the $130,000 consideration that only Donald Trump could provide. Release of claims, an agreement to stay away from her and her family, the list goes on and on. This deal will never be upheld in a court of law, there was never any deal.
Attorney Michael Avenatti representing his client, "porn star" Stormy Daniels, on Fox News@Night, March 20, 2018.
BREAM: OK. A couple of things, you and I both know, we learned in the first year of law school that there are contracts and courts do this all the time that uphold things that aren't fully signed. You know that happens, I know that happens. But, let's point out the language here so that we can talk about that.
In this deal that was signed October 28, 2016, the first part of it says, "This settlement agreement and mutual release is made and deemed effected as of 28th day of October 2016, by and between E.C., LLC," which is the company that Michael Cohen set up. And/or David Denniso. On the one part, grouping them together and Peggy Peterson on the other parts.
Now, I know that you've talked about that, and/or language, but sounds like — you know, in the – in the clause right after that saying, on the one part that they were a pocket deal. Cohen signed this deal. So, how does that not satisfied the fact that both sides, both parties of this agreement have signed it?
AVENATTI: Well, first of all, under a California law, and/or is a conjunctive term, it's a plural term under the law. But it's even simpler than that, it's basic English. If in fact, the intent of Mr. Cohen was that the agreement could be entered into either by E.C., LLC or Donald Trump, he inverted the names. He got it wrong. Wait a minute.
BREAM: But the – but the word or is used.
AVENATTI: No, no, no, but though, it's simple.
BREAM: It is used.
AVENATTI: It's worth – it is used but that's not the reading of the English language. He inverted the names. If he wanted it to be that E.C. could enter into it without Donald Trump, E.C. needed to be the second name, not the first name. And – I mean, it's simple English.
And regardless Section 8.6 of the agreement, required all parties to sign, all parties. This agreement is going to be thrown out, it's full of holes, it's poorly drafted, it has all kinds of superfluous language. I don't – I don't know who drafted this in Mr. Cohen's office, but whoever did it, did a terrible job and certainly did not serve Mr. Trump, well.
BREAM: You mentioned the issue of consideration. So, let's talk about that. It details that you are to be paid, and then, when all of the conditions are satisfied, ultimately the money would go to your client. It was wired to you, did you write her a check?
AVENATTI: No, it was not wired to me, this was her predecessor counsel, to be – to be clear.
BREAM: The predecessor counsel. OK.
AVENATTI: My client – my client was to receive $130,000 and a whole host of other consideration from Mr. Trump.
BREAM: Did she received the money?
AVENATTI: Not Mr. Cohen. She received the money but she didn't get the rest of the consideration. It's like buying a house, a four-bedroom house, but you only get one bedroom. That's not a deal.
BREAM: What didn't she – what didn't she received?
AVENATTI: Well, she didn't get the release from Mr. Trump, as provided for in the agreement. She didn't get the agreement by Mr. Trump to stay away from her and her family, and not contact her.
BREAM: So when did –
AVENATTI: She didn't get a whole host of other things.
BREAM: When did he contact her or her family?
AVENATTI: No, no, no, that's not the issue. The issue is the agreement, the binding agreement for him not to do so. That's the consideration. She didn't get the binding release in the agreement. Mr. Cohen could not bind Mr. Trump under the agreement. This is going to be thrown out. There was no agreement. It's just that clear.
BREAM: Well it's not that clear because have the word "or" there and talking about them at part. And I know you filed in State Court, the Trump folks are trying to move this to Federal Court. We'll see if that succeeds. We'll see if a judge likes your argument or if you get a different judge. I know this isn't the first time that you've faced off against the President in court. You did so at least with a settlement in 2006 with regard to The Apprentice so you are at least experienced in facing him in another legal fight. So we'll watch this one and see how it proceeds but we're glad to have you with us tonight and we'd love to have you back.
AVENATTI: Thank you.
BREAM: Thanks, Michael.
AVENATTI: I appreciate it. Have a good night.
BREAM: You too. All right, a school resource officer stepped up in the face of danger today. Should every school have armed guards? Our panel weighs in when we return.
End of transcript.