from the what-an-odd-legal-strategy dept
Assuming you haven’t been living under a rock, you know that on Sunday night, porn star Stephanie Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford) did a big interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes. Much of what was in there had been previously reported, though this is the first time many of the claims came directly from Daniels herself. But there was one “big” new claim, which hadn’t previously been reported, and which is now getting lots of attention. It’s that when she first considered telling her story in 2011, someone threatened her pretty directly:
Stormy Daniels: I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. T– taking, you know, the seats facing backwards in the backseat, diaper bag, you know, gettin’ all the stuff out. And a guy walked up on me and said to me, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.” And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.” And then he was gone.
Anderson Cooper: You took it as a direct threat?
Stormy Daniels: Absolutely.
Stormy Daniels: I was rattled. I remember going into the workout class. And my hands are shaking so much, I was afraid I was gonna– drop her.
Anderson Cooper: Did you ever see that person again?
Stormy Daniels: No. But I– if I did, I would know it right away.
Anderson Cooper: You’d be able to– you’d be able to recognize that person?
Stormy Daniels: 100%. Even now, all these years later. If he walked in this door right now, I would instantly know.
Anderson Cooper: Did you go to the police?
Stormy Daniels: No.
Anderson Cooper: Why?
Stormy Daniels: Because I was scared.
That is the entire extent of the discussion about the threat. So here’s an interesting thing. Almost as soon as this aired, the lawyer for Trump’s main lawyer, Michael Cohen (yes, this is Trump’s lawyer’s lawyer), Brent Blakely, sent Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, a new threat letter, first posted by Maggie Haberman at the NY Times.
The threat letter is quite a read. Here’s what it says, in part:
I am writing in connection with the false and defamatory statements that you and your client, Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, made on 60 Minutes this evening regarding Mr. Cohen, namely that he was responsible for an alleged thug who supposedly visited Ms. Clifford, while she was with her daughter, and made an alleged threat to Ms. Clifford.
In truth, Mr. Cohen had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any such person or incident and does not even believe that any such person exists, or that such incident ever occurred. You and your client’s false statements about Mr. Cohen accuse him of criminal conduct and constitute, among other claims, libel per se and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It would also appear that your statements of alleged criminal conduct are being made to obtain an advantage in a civil dispute, which is also improper.
I hereby demand that you and your client cease and desist from making any further false and defamatory statements about my client, that you immediately retract and apologize to Mr. Cohen through the national media for your defamatory statements on 60 Minutes, and make clear that you have no facts or evidence whatsoever to support your allegations that my client had anything whatsoever to do with this alleged thug.
So… uh… read the two separate quoted chunks again. Notice anything? Nowhere in the 60 Minutes piece does Daniels even come close to suggesting Cohen had anything to do with the thug. She notes she never saw the guy again, but would recognize him. She does not even mention Cohen in that entire segment.
It seems like a fairly odd legal tactic to start screaming “cease and desist” over claims that were not made about your client. Though, of course, doing so might make some people a bit more interested in investigating whether or not Cohen did have anything to do with those threats…