The New York Times: Stormy Daniels Lawsuit Opens Door to Further Trouble for Trump


In the blur of news coming out of Washington, the legal maneuvers involving a pornographic film actress who says she had an affair with President Trump and the president’s lawyer who paid her hush money may seem like just another reality-show-ready spectacle at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But the lawsuit she filed this week, seeking to break a 2016 agreement to keep silent in return for a $130,000 payout, opens what could be a precarious new legal front for a White House already beset by the investigation by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.


“It actually presents a relatively clean issue for the court,” said Lawrence M. Noble, a former top lawyer at the Federal Election Commission who is now the general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group. “What she signed amounts to a gag order, and she has rights if this agreement is not found to be valid.”


Mr. Avenatti’s argument hinges on a blank signature line by the alias used for Mr. Trump, David Dennison, on the contract. Ms. Clifford, identified as “Peggy Peterson,” and Mr. Cohen, representing the shell company he used to facilitate the payment, both signed the document. Mr. Avenatti argues that because Mr. Trump did not sign it himself, the agreement is invalid — a point Mr. Super, the Georgetown professor, basically agreed with and Mr. Noble said might have merit.

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