- Drew Angerer/Getty Images
- The adult-film actress Stormy Daniels filed a new lawsuit in California on Wednesday.
- She alleged that her former attorney betrayed her and became a “puppet” for President Donald Trump and his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, while still representing her.
- The lawsuit contains text messages between Cohen and Daniels’ former attorney, Keith Davidson.
The adult-film actress Stormy Daniels alleged in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that her former attorney betrayed her and became a “puppet” for President Donald Trump and his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, while still representing her.
NBC News reported that Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court and that it alleged that Daniels’ initial attorney, Keith Davidson, “hatched a plan” and “colluded” with Cohen to try to get her to appear on Fox News months ago and to deny that she had an affair with Trump in 2006.
Cohen facilitated a $130,000 hush-money payment to Daniels weeks before the 2016 presidential election to keep her quiet about her allegations of an affair. Cohen is now the focus of a criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York into whether he violated campaign-finance laws or committed bank fraud.
Daniels is also suing Cohen and Trump in California seeking to void that nondisclosure agreement and last month filed a motion to revive that lawsuit.
Daniels’ lawsuit features texts between Cohen and Davidson
In one of the text messages between Cohen and Davison included in Daniels’ latest lawsuit, Cohen referred to Davidson as his “pal.”
The suit says that Trump was aware Davidson and Cohen were in communication and coordinating for his benefit and that Daniels didn’t know that at the time. It also accuses Davidson of breaching attorney-client privilege and tipping off Cohen that Daniels was about to hire a new attorney, Michael Avenatti, and sue both Cohen and the president.
“Mr. Davidson abdicated his role as an advocate and fiduciary of his client Ms. Clifford and instead elected to be a puppet for Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump in order to advance their interests at the expense of Ms. Clifford,” the suit says.
- Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
Davidson and attorneys for Cohen did not immediately respond to NBC News’ requests for comment.
Cohen and the White House have denied that Daniels and Trump had an affair.
The text messages included in Daniels’ suit show that Cohen and Davidson were in contact on January 17, the day In Touch Weekly published excerpts from a 2011 interview with Daniels in which she discussed her allegations of an affair with Trump.
“I have her tentatively scheduled for Hannity tonight,” Cohen texted Davidson, referring to the Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show. Davidson responded: “She cannot don’t [sic] today. She is flying to LA tomorrow. I’m trying to get her to commit for tomorrow.”
The messages continued. Cohen seemed to become irked at the delay.
“By doing tomorrow you just create another news cycle instead of putting an end to this one,” he wrote, according to the suit.
But Cohen then said that “the wise men” believed Daniels’ story was “dying” and that it wouldn’t be “smart” for her to do interviews.
Davidson’s response: “100%.”
Cohen then said, “Thanks pal.”
Daniels’ suit alleges that the reference to “the wise men” included Trump.
Text messages from March included in the suit show the two men discussing the lawsuit that Daniels would soon file against Cohen and Trump seeking to void the nondisclosure agreement.
“This is a search for the truth and we will find it and expose it,” Avenatti tweeted on Wednesday after NBC News published the story.
An ‘anything but traditional’ relationship
Cohen and Davidson have worked together on similar agreements in the past.
They were involved in a nondisclosure agreement and $1.6 million payoff for Shera Bechard, a Playboy model who had an affair with Elliott Broidy, a wealthy Republican financier. Davidson represented Bechard, while Cohen represented Broidy.
Another former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, has accused Cohen and Davidson of colluding with American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, to bury her allegations of an affair with Trump.
- Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images
“The relationship between these two ‘opposing’ attorneys has been anything but traditional,” Avenatti told Business Insider in an email last month.
Last week, Avenatti published a pair of emails between Cohen and Davidson exchanged last month.
In one email, Cohen messaged Davidson just days after the FBI raids to say he “lost all my contacts as I had to get a new phone.”
“Please send me all your contact info,” Cohen wrote, adding, “Let me know how you want to communicate.”
In the second email, which was sent from Cohen to Davidson in February, Cohen wrote that it was his “understanding that Ms. Clifford has or is seeking the advice of additional counsel regarding the above matter.”
Cohen added that Davidson “under no circumstances should forward” certain information he described in the email to anyone without Cohen’s written consent.
Mitchell Epner, an attorney at Rottenberg Lipman Rich who was formerly an assistant US attorney for the District of New Jersey, told Business Insider that Davidson was “in a hell of a pickle.”
“As an attorney, you have a duty to be a zealous advocate for your client, and if what’s been alleged by Avenatti is true and Davidson and Cohen were colluding to sell out Stephanie Clifford to have Davidson pocket a very large sum, that is taking your law license in your hands,” Epner said.
Davidson previously denied any insinuation of unethical or inappropriate behavior. An attorney must disclose any such a conflict to a client.