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Porn star Stormy Daniels sues former lawyer Keith Davidson, claiming he was a 'puppet' of Trump and attorney Michael Cohen

Key Points
  • Porn star Stormy Daniels sued her ex-lawyer Keith Davidson and President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen on Wednesday.
  • Daniels claims Davidson became a puppet of Trump and Cohen, undercutting her interests.
  • The suit says that Cohen and Davidson hatched a plan to have Daniels appear on Fox News to falsely deny a report that she had an affair with Trump.
Stormy Daniels sues former lawyer on claims of Cohen and Trump collusion

Porn star Stormy Daniels sued her former lawyer and President Donald Trump's attorney Michael Cohen on Wednesday, claiming they jointly "hatched a plan" to get her to falsely deny an affair with Trump on Fox News.

Daniels' suit alleges her ex-attorney, Keith Davidson, "abdicated his role as an advocate" for the actress, "and instead elected to be a puppet for Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump."

The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims that Trump knew Davidson and Cohen were talking to one another for his benefit, without Daniels herself having been aware of it at the time.

Daniels, who is now being represented by Michael Avenatti, claims Davidson breached his fiduciary duty to her and accuses Cohen of "aiding and abetting" Davidson in that breach of duty.

A lawyer for Cohen did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Michael Cohen, wiretaps & the Stormy Daniels saga

"This outrageously frivolous lawsuit is yet another desperate attempt by Michael Avenatti to continue his 'publicity tour,' as well as divert attention from the recent allegations against him relating to bankruptcy proceedings and the failure to withhold millions of federal employee taxes," Davidson's spokesman, Dave Wedge, told CNBC in an email.

"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 added.

Avenatti shot back in an email to CNBC: "Keith Davidson is a scum bag and a liar. I look forward to his disbarment."

Cohen is currently under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in New York who are eyeing his business dealings, as well as a hush-money payment he made to Daniels.

Cohen and Davidson also negotiated an agreement by Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy to pay $1.6 million to Playboy model Shera Bechard over an affair with Broidy. In March, another Playboy model, Karen McDougal, filed a suit that accuses both lawyers of "colluding" to bury her claim of having an affair with Trump.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had sex with Trump in 2006, while he was married to Melania.

In October 2016, on the eve of the presidential election, Cohen, using a shell company he had set up, paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her signing the nondisclosure agreement.

Daniels has said the agreement, which was negotiated with Cohen by her then-lawyer Davidson, barred her from speaking publicly about her tryst with Trump.

In early January this year, The Wall Street Journal broke the news about that deal arranged by the lawyers.

Inside the new lawsuit

Daniels' newly filed lawsuit says that after the news broke, Cohen texted Davidson on Jan. 17, 2018, and told him "I have her tentatively scheduled for Hannity tonight," a reference to Fox News host Sean Hannity.

That message and others purportedly exchanged that day between the two men were sent on the same day that they became aware that In Touch magazine was publishing an old interview with Daniels in which she discussed the alleged affair.

The suit says that Cohen was desperate to have Daniels appear on Fox News to deny the affair, even after Davidson said she would not be able to appear on Hannity's show that particular evening.

"I'm trying to get her to commit for tomorrow," Davidson texted Cohen, the suit says.

The suit goes on to say that Cohen, "in a panic," sent several other texts "in a desperate attempt to convince Ms. Clifford, with the assistance of Mr. Hannity, to lie to the American public about her relationship with Mr. Trump via the Fox News broadcast."

According to the suit, in one of those subsequent texts, Cohen wrote to Davidson: "This is no good. We need her as by doing tomorrow you just create another news cycle instead of putting an end to this one."

But less than three hours later, Cohen allegedly texted Davidson again, saying, "Keith, The wise men all believe the story is dying and don't think it's smart for her to do any interviews. Let her do her thing but no interviews at all with anyone," according to the suit.

"Thanks pal," Cohen wrote, after allegedly getting Davidson's agreement, the suit says.

The suit says Cohen's reference to "wise men" included "Mr. Trump." It does not offer any proof for that claim.

Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An alleged tipoff

The suit further accuses Davidson, after learning that Daniels planned to replace him as her attorney, of tipping Cohen off in March about the lawsuit Daniels was on the verge of filing against both Cohen and Trump. That suit seeks to void a nondisclosure agreement she signed.

"Starting in January 2018 at the latest, Defendants Davidson and Cohen acted in concert to benefit not Ms. Clifford, but a client of Mr. Cohen's, namely Mr. Trump," the suit says.

It also says that Cohen, after getting tipped by Davidson, tried to forestall Daniels' lawsuit related to the nondisclosure agreement by filing a claim against her in arbitration, instead of in a public court, to enforce the terms of the agreement.

In one text message cited in the suit, Cohen on March 2 this year asked Davidson to "give me a minute," to get back to him, noting that he was "with flotus" — first lady Melania Trump.

"Mr. Davidson's communications with Mr. Cohen were inconsistent with his obligations to Ms. Clifford, including his obligation to maintain client confidences and his duty of loyalty to Ms. Clifford," the suit says.

Avenatti, in a statement issued to NBC News, said: "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."

"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," Avenatti added.

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