In an effort to keep the explosive case confined to private arbitration and out of public view, Donald Trump's attorneys on Friday filed a motion to move a lawsuit against the president by adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, whose on-screen name is Stormy Daniels, to federal court—a move immediately denounced by Clifford's lawyer as a "bullying tactic."
"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."
—Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stephanie Clifford
Trump's attorneys also filed a separate motion Friday claiming that Clifford violated a confidentiality agreement as many as 20 times, and could be on the hook for $20 million in damages. Daniels sued earlier this month claiming that because Trump himself never signed the "hush agreement," it is void.
As CNN noted on Saturday, the motion "marks the first time attorneys for Trump himself have joined the legal action in the Daniels matter."
"Attorney Charles Harder—best known for representing Hulk Hogan in his lawsuit against Gawker, which resulted in its bankruptcy—is handling the case on the President's behalf," CNN reported.
The moves by the Trump legal team came just a day after it was reported that CBS's "60 Minutes" interview with Clifford and her attorney will air March 25.
As Common Dreams reported on Friday, Clifford's lawyer Michael Avenatti said his client has been physically threatened to remain silent about her alleged affair with Trump.
"I think it will become apparent to people when they tune in to '60 minutes' on March 25 as to the details relating to the threat," Avenatti added.
After Trump's legal team filed its motions on Friday, Avenatti argued in a series of tweets that the president is attempting to hide "the truth from the public."
The filing today is yet another bullying tactic from the president and Mr. Cohen. They are now attempting to remove this case to federal ct in order to increase their chances that the matter will be decided in private arbitration, thus hiding the truth from the public.— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 17, 2018
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? #notwellthoughtout #sloppy #checkmate— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 17, 2018
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. Likely unprecedented in our history. We are NOT going away and we will NOT be intimidated. #basta— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 17, 2018
Weighing in on the case Saturday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) concluded that the Trump legal team's efforts show the president "must be desperate and scared."