Stormy Daniels debut in Trump tweets over artist's sketch of menacing thug
April 18. 2018 1:44PM
WASHINGTON, April 18 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said a man portrayed in a sketch released by porn star Stormy Daniels, who she said warned her to stop discussing her claims of a sexual encounter with Trump, does not exist.
Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, says she had sex with Trump in 2006 and is fighting a 2016 nondisclosure agreement arranged by Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in which she was paid $130,000 to keep silent.
Trump’s lawyers are seeking at least $20 million in damages from Daniels for violations of the nondisclosure agreement.
On Tuesday, she and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, released a sketch of a man whom she said had threatened her in 2011, and offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to his identification.
Avenatti announced on Wednesday the reward had been increased to $131,000.
The picture they released showed a man with facial stubble and a chiseled jaw, who was wearing a hoodie. Daniels said in an interview with ABC on Wednesday that she thought he was someone’s husband and described him as “sort of handsome.”
Trump has largely remained quiet on the subject, although he told reporters earlier this month that he did not know about the payment to Daniels.
However, on Wednesday, in his first reference to Daniels via Twitter, he said in a post: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”
Asked for comment, Avenatti referred to his own Twitter posts on Wednesday.
“In my experience, there is nothing better in litigation than having a completely unhinged, undisciplined opponent who is prone to shooting himself in the foot. Always leads to BIGLY problems ... like new claims (i.e. defamation),” Avenatti said in one of two posts.
The sketch was released the day after a hearing in federal court in Manhattan, where Trump attorney Cohen fought to limit the capability of federal prosecutors to review documents seized in a raid by FBI agents on his home, office and hotel room.
A source familiar with the raids said that the agents were looking for more information on payments to Daniels within materials related to Cohen’s business dealings. The raids are related to a separate investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump has repeatedly said there was no collusion.
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis)