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Stormy Daniels lawsuit: My old lawyer was a 'puppet' for Trump, Cohen

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Stormy Daniels lawsuit: My old lawyer was a 'puppet' for Trump, Cohen

Image: Michael Cohen leaves court in New York
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Stormy Daniels says in a new lawsuit that her former attorney betrayed her and became a "puppet" for President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer while still representing her.

The filing in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday alleges that Trump attorney Michael Cohen "hatched a plan" and "colluded" with Beverly Hills lawyer Keith Davidson to get the adult film actress to go on Fox News a few months ago and falsely deny she had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago. Cohen even referred to Davidson as "pal" in one text cited in the complaint.

The lawsuit against Davidson and Cohen also claims that Trump was aware the two attorneys were communicating and coordinating for his benefit — unbeknownst to Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford.

The suit further accuses Davidson of breaking client confidentiality and tipping off Cohen that Clifford was about to switch to a new lawyer and announce in court papers that she'd had sex with Trump and signed a $130,000 agreement to keep quiet about it just before the 2016 election

"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.

President Donald Trump\'s personal lawyer Michael Cohen leaves the U.S. Courthouse in New York on April 26.
President Donald Trump\'s personal lawyer Michael Cohen leaves the U.S. Courthouse in New York on April 26.Hector Retamal

Davidson and attorneys for Cohen did not immediately respond for comment. A spokesperson for Davidson previously told NBC News that he is cooperating with federal prosecutors' investigation of Cohen and had turned over electronic information.

An attorney for Trump also did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the lawsuit. The White House has previously denied that Trump had an affair with Clifford.

Clifford's current attorney, Michael Avenatti, told NBC News that she was not consulted or informed by Davidson that he was cooperating with Cohen after the agreement had been signed in November 2016.

Attached to the lawsuits are text messages exchanged between Cohen and Davidson on Jan. 17, 2018, the same day that In Touch Magazine resurrected an interview Clifford had done years before about Trump that was not published at the time.

Click here to read the text messages

"I have her tentatively scheduled for Hannity tonight," Cohen allegedly texted Davidson, referring to the Fox News program helmed by Trump ally Sean Hannity.

Davidson, according to the suit, responded that "she cannot don't [sic] today. She is flying to LA tomorrow. I'm trying to get her to commit for tomorrow."

Over the next several hours, texts went back and forth. At one point, the suit said, Cohen complained the delay was "no good."

"By doing tomorrow you just create another news cycle instead of putting an end to this one," he wrote, the suit alleges.

Later that evening, another text from Cohen to Davidson said: "The wise men all believe the story is dying and don't think it's smart for her to do any interviews."

Davidson replied "100%." Cohen's response: "Thanks pal."

The complaint alleges that "wise men" was a reference that included Trump and alleges that Trump knew of the plan to get her to appear on Hannity's show and deny a prior sexual relationship with Trump, although the lawsuit included no documentation of that.

Fox News host Sean Hannity in the White House briefing room on Jan. 24, 2017.
Fox News host Sean Hannity in the White House briefing room on Jan. 24, 2017.Nicholas Kamm

By late February, Clifford was planning to hire a new lawyer and go public. Davidson, the suit alleges, "secretly tipped Mr. Cohen off to Ms. Clifford's plans," prompting Cohen to launch arbitration proceedings against Clifford that included a gag order.

In early March, Davidson allegedly told Cohen that Clifford planned to file a lawsuit against him and Trump seeking to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement. The suit references a new series of text messages between the lawyers on March 2 to arrange a phone call.

"U calling?" Davidson texted.

"With flotus. Give me a minute," Cohen replied.

Press reports from that date indicate both Cohen and Melania Trump were at Mar-a-Lago. The suit speculates that Cohen was there to meet with the first lady and prepare her for news of the lawsuit but does not include substantiation.

"These text messages show that the prior denials by Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen relating to what Mr. Trump knew and about the honesty of my client were absolute lies," Avenatti said in a statement after the lawsuit was filed.

"There was a significant cover-up here as part of an attempt to deceive the American people and Mrs. Trump and we intend on getting to the bottom of it."

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.

The new suit — which accuses Davidson of breaching his fiduciary duty to Clifford and Cohen of aiding and abetting Davidson — isn't the first time questions have been raised about a seemingly cozy relationship between Cohen and Davidson.

In a lawsuit filed in mid-March, former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal accused Cohen and Davidson, in coordination with publisher AMI, of "colluding" to bury her story of what she says was an affair with Mr. Trump.

The two lawyers also were involved in a nondisclosure agreement and $1.6 million payment for Sheara Bechard, a Playboy Playmate represented by Davidson, who said she had an affair with Republican National Committee official Elliott Broidy.

This is also not the first time Davidson has been sued. Several high-profile figures, including professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, have accused him of extortion for trying to negotiate settlements to make misconduct allegations or sex tapes go away.

Avenatti's onslaught against Cohen and Trump also includes Clifford's defamation lawsuit against Trump; the release of details that revealed Cohen offered himself as a paid consultant to major companies after Trump's election; and his demand that Cohen release taped recordings he allegedly made of conversations with Trump and others.