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March 08, 2018

Politicians React to Stormy Daniels Lawsuit Against Trump

CYBERSPACE—Reaction from Washington, D.C., to Stormy Daniels lawsuit against Donald Trump was swift on Wednesday, with Republicans and Democrats reacting in largely predictable ways—though even some in the opposition party were reluctant to discuss the suit in which the AVN Hall of Famer attempts to invalidate a “hush agreement” over her alleged affair with Trump a decade ago. Daniels and her attorney Michael Avenatti claim in the suit that the agreement was never valid in the first place because, they allege, Trump refused to sign it. But even as politicians attempted to find the right words to address the awkward and potentially criminal allegations that Trump not only cheated on his wife with Daniels just a few months after his son was born, Trump’s own press secretary appeared to fumble her response, inadvertently confirming that a contract to buy Daniels’ silence does indeed exist, something that Trump himself has uncharacteristically never denied—or confirmed. At her daily press briefing on Wednesday, Sanders asserted that the Daniels case “has already been won in arbitration,” making the clear implication that there was, indeed, a “case” between Trump and Daniels to arbitrate. Arbitration is generally cheaper, quicker and more private way to settle legal disputes compared to litigation in court.  Avenatti called Sanders’ claim “ludicrous.” But the more significant reaction, at least as far as Sanders is concerned, may have come from Trump himself, who according to a report by CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, was “very unhappy” with the way Sanders answered the questions about Daniels’ lawsuit. Acosta’s source told him that Trump believes his press secretary “gave the Stormy Daniels storyline steroids.” According to a report by NBC News, Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, who has admitted paying $130,000 to Daniels out of his own personal funds, obtained a restraining order from a retired judge authorized to act as a private arbitrator. The order supposedly requires Daniels to refrain from any comment on her affair with Trump or the “hush” deal she struck with Cohen just days before the 2016 presidential election. In the nation’s capital, most Republicans either shied away from commenting on the Daniels lawsuit, or attempted to downplay it.  When asked by a Washington Post reporter to comment on the lawsuit, Tennessee GOP Senator Lamar Alexander simply chuckled and walked away.  Another Republican senator, John Neely Kennedy of Louisiana, initially told a Post reporter, “This is no country for creepy old men.”  But Kennedy quickly backtracked, adding that “his comments were not intended to reflect poorly on President Donald Trump,” the Post reported. The one Republican who was critical of Trump was politician who has been involved in a somewhat similar situation himself. Mark Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina who is now a House Representative from that state, called the hush money deal with Daniels “deeply troubling.” He also called the allegations against Trump “part of a larger pattern ... not a one-off.” In 2009, when he was governor, Sanford was revealed to be involved in an extramarital affair with a TV news reporter in Argentina, María Belén Chapur. But unlike Trump’s behavior with Daniels, Sanford sought a permanent relationship with Chapur, divorcing his wife and becoming engaged to Chapur in 2012—only to break off the engagement in 2014, and then reunite as recently as last year. Democrats were generally more forthcoming with comments about the Daniels lawsuit, with California member of Congress Brad Sherman telling the Post, “If this was any other political figure, they’d be writing their resignation speech now.”  Lanny Davis, a longtime Democratic party operative and former lawyer for President Bill Clinton, called Republican reaction to the Daniels lawsuit “utter hypocrisy.” But Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer of New York shrugged off the Daniels story.  “I’m not going to comment on that issue,” he said. “We want to stick to infrastructure.”

 
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