Stormy Daniels (AP file)
WASHINGTON (AP) - The porn actress alleging a sexual encounter with President Donald Trump is escalating her legal fight, suing the president for defamation.
Stormy Daniels filed the complaint in federal court in New York on Monday. At issue is a tweet Trump made in which he dismissed a composite sketch that Daniels says depicted a man who threatened her in 2011 to stay quiet about her alleged relationship with Trump.
In the tweet earlier in April, Trump said: "A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!"
The filing says the tweet was "false and defamatory," arguing that Trump was speaking about Daniels and that he "knew that his false, disparaging statement would be read by people around the world, as well as widely reported." It also says Daniels has been "exposed to death threats and other threats of physical violence."
Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages. Her attorney Michael Avenatti said Monday: "We intend on teaching Mr. Trump that you cannot simply make things up about someone and disseminate them without serious consequences."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. An attorney representing Trump in another legal matter in New York did not respond to an email seeking comment.
The lawsuit is the latest legal move from Daniels, who already is suing to be released from a non-disclosure deal she agreed to days before the 2016 election in exchange for $130,000. The payment was made by the president's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. That civil lawsuit was delayed in federal court in Los Angeles on Friday, with the judge citing a criminal investigation that Cohen is facing.
Cohen asked for a delay after FBI agents raided his home and office several weeks ago. The FBI was seeking records about the nondisclosure agreement. Cohen's attorney said in court last week that because the criminal investigation overlaps with issues in the lawsuit, his client's right against self-incrimination could be adversely impacted because he won't be able to respond and defend himself.
Aided by her hard-charging attorney, Michael Avenatti, Daniels has aggressively sought to keep her case in the public eye. Several weeks ago, she revealed a sketch on ABC's "The View" that she said depicts the man who warned her in 2011 to stay quiet about a 2006 tryst with Trump. Daniels said the man approached her in a Las Vegas parking lot when she was with her young daughter.
Trump faces a number of allegations about his sexual exploits long before he ran for president. The White House says Trump did not have a sexual encounter with Daniels, and the president has denied the other allegations as well.
Trump is also facing a New York defamation lawsuit filed by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice." Zervos has accused Trump of unwanted sexual contact in 2007 and sued him after he dismissed the claims as made up. A judge ruled that lawsuit can move forward.