A day after adult film star Stormy Daniels sued her former lawyer, he turned around and sued her, her current attorney — and President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
The counterclaim, filed by Keith Davidson in federal court in California on Thursday, is the latest strand in a ever more tangled web spun out of Daniels’ claim that she had sex with Trump more than a decade ago, which the president denies.
Davidson represented Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, when she signed a $130,000 nondisclosure agreement negotiated by Cohen just before the 2016 presidential election.
She’s now represented by the hard-charging Michael Avenatti, who on Wednesday filed a suit on her behalf accusing Davidson and Cohen of colluding against her on behalf of Trump.
The defendants had the suit moved from state court in California to U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Thursday, and hours later Davidson filed his complaint.
He claims that while he was negotiating Clifford’s hush-money deal, Cohen “surreptitiously and intentionally recorded several telephone calls” with Davidson without his consent.
Cohen could not be reached for comment. Avenatti has also claimed that Cohen recorded conversations and leaked them to the media, though no such recordings have surfaced publicly.
In Davidson’s filing against Clifford and Avenatti, he alleges that they defamed him.
“Stephanie Clifford’s current attorney, Michael Avenatti, has been on a crusade to falsely vilify Davidson while using Clifford’s attorney-client privilege with Davidson as both a sword and a shield,” Davidson wrote.
He said they have made “countless reckless and false statements,” but specifically cited a tweet Wednesday by Avenatti that said, “Davidson should have been charged after his arrest for extortion.”
The tweet linked to a news article that reported, citing a lawsuit, that Davidson had been arrested by the FBI during a 2012 rendezvous in which he allegedly relinquished wrestler Hulk Hogan’s sex tape in exchange for $150,000 in cash. (The suit, filed by Hogan in 2016, says the FBI took Davidson and another man “into custody”).
“Keith Davidson has never been arrested for extortion as falsely alleged by defendants,” Davidson’s complaint said.
Davidson was never charged with criminal wrongdoing in connection with the Hogan tape.
Avenatti does not appear to be cowed by Davidson’s legal salvo, calling his allegations “patently false.”
“There is no question that at the end of this, Keith Davidson will be disbarred from the practice of law. He is a proven liar and his conduct is abhorrent,” Avenatti said in a statement.
“He is an embarrassment to the profession and seems to have forgotten what the attorney-client privilege is all about. We look forward to having his frivolous claims thrown out of court.”
The suit Avenatti filed against Cohen and Davidson on Wednesday alleges that while Davidson was still representing Clifford, he was acting as a “puppet” of Cohen and Trump.
He cites text messages that he said showed Davidson and Cohen trying to arrange for Clifford to appear on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox in January, allegedly to deny she ever had sex with Trump.