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

Suit claims the attorneys tried to arrange for her to appear on Sean Hannity's show and deny affair.
by Sarah Fitzpatrick and Tracy Connor /  / Updated 
Image: Stormy Daniels leaves federal court in New York
Stormy Daniels leaves federal court in New York on April 16.Craig Ruttle / AP

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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 Wednesday alleges that Trump attorney Michael Cohen "hatched a plan" and "colluded" with the adult film actress' lawyer, Keith Davidson, in an attempt to get her to go on Fox News in January and falsely deny she had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago.

Cohen even referred to Davidson as "pal" in one text message attached to 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, Michael Avenatti, 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.

Image: Michael Cohen leaves court in New York
President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen leaves the U.S. Courthouse in New York on April 26.Hector Retamal / AFP - Getty Images

Dave Wedge, a spokesman for Davidson, called the suit "outrageously frivolous."

"That said, Attorney Davidson is very happy that he has filed this lawsuit because he strongly believes that the filing constitutes a full and complete waiver of the attorney-client privilege," Wedge said in a statement.

"Thankfully, the truth can now finally come out to rebut the false narrative about Attorney Davidson that Mr. Avenatti has been pushing in his more than 175 television appearances and countless other media interviews. Attorney Davidson believes that the American people deserve to know the entire truth — and they soon will. This lawsuit has made that happen."

Click here to read the complaint

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 Cohen did not respond for comment on the new suit, which was filed California Superior Court in Santa Monica. Trump's attorney also did not respond; the White House has previously denied that Trump had an affair with Clifford.

Image: Keith Davidson on "Today" on Dec. 23, 2010.
Keith Davidson on "Today" on Dec. 23, 2010.TODAY

Avenatti, Clifford's current attorney, told NBC News that she was not consulted or informed by Davidson that he was cooperating with Cohen after the nondisclosure agreement was 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.

"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.

Image: Sean Hannity
Fox News host Sean Hannity in the White House briefing room on Jan. 24, 2017.Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images file

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 claims 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.

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