Stormy Daniels' lawyer says 'extremely strict reading' of her earlier Trump affair denial was true because the relationship wasn't 'romantic'

Stormy Daniels' lawyer says 'extremely strict reading' of her earlier Trump affair denial was true because the relationship wasn't 'romantic'
  • Keith Davidson, a lawyer for Stormy Daniels, is testifying in Donald Trump's hush-money trials.

  • He crafted statements for Daniels denying an affair with Trump.

  • Davidson said the statements were "technically" true because the relationship wasn't "romantic."

Sexual? Sure. Romantic? That's something else.

Keith Davidson — the lawyer who brokered a hush-money agreement for Stormy Daniels over the affair she says she had with Donald Trump — continued his testimony in the former president's Manhattan criminal trial on Thursday.

Under questioning from prosecutor Joshua Steinglass, Davidson discussed a pair of statements Daniels made in January 2018. Around that time, The Wall Street Journal was preparing to publish a series of stories about the affair between the porn star and Trump, and the contract she signed that was designed to keep her quiet ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

On the recommendation of Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, Davidson wrote a "strong denial" on Daniels' behalf, which would deny the existence of a hush-money agreement as well as the affair itself.

Daniels signed the letter, published on January 10, 2018 — but Davison testified he wrote it himself.

"TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: I recently became aware that certain news outlets are alleging that I had a sexual and/or romantic affair with Donald Trump many, many, many years ago," the statement began. "I am stating with complete clarity that this is absolutely false."

Davidson testified on Thursday that "an extremely strict reading of this statement would technically be true" based on how he would parse "affair," "romantic," and "and/or."

"I don't think that anyone had ever alleged that any interaction between she and Mr. Trump was romantic," Davidson said, to laughter in the court's overflow room.

Davidson said that letters like the one he wrote are a "tactic" used by lawyers wrangling with the press to try to throw them off a story.

Asked by Steinglass whether "there was a sexual encounter" between Daniels and Trump, Davidson said he believed there was.

"That was my understanding," he said.

Davidson also said the statement's denial of rumors that Daniels "received hush money" from Trump was also true because he "would never use that word."

"There wasn't hush money. It was a consideration in a civil settlement agreement," Davidson said.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office has charged Trump with violating criminal business-recordkeeping laws 34 times by disguising reimbursements to Cohen, who paid the hush money to Daniels on Trump's behalf.

donald trump manhattan criminal trial
Former US President Donald Trump at his hush-money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City.MARK PETERSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges and laid the blame at Cohen's feet, saying he arranged the payments.

Davidson testified Thursday about the chaotic atmosphere surrounding the hush-money arrangement. Cohen repeatedly pushed back payment deadlines ahead of the 2016 election, he said. And on election night, as the results pointed to Trump winning the presidency, Davidson was surprised.

"What have we done?" Davidson texted Dylan Howard, the editor of the National Enquirer, on election night.

The arrangement between Trump and Daniels remained dormant until early 2018, when the Journal prepared to publish its stories revealing the scandal to the public. Cohen worked at all hours trying to keep the narrative under control, sending text messages "with little regard for my schedule," Davidson testified.

When the 2018 State of the Union address rolled around on January 30, Daniels saw an opportunity to reinvigorate her career as an adult-film actor and director, he said.

She was set to appear on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

Cohen insisted that Daniels publish another statement denying the affair.

Davidson crafted the statement with Daniels in the Marilyn Monroe Suite in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which Kimmel's production team had booked for her. The statement referred to an "alleged sexual relationship" with Trump.

"I am not denying this affair because I was paid 'hush money' as has been reported in overseas owned tabloids," the statement read. "I am denying this affair because it never happened."

Davidson explained Thursday he thought the statement was "technically true" because of how he personally defined "relationship."

"I don't think anyone had ever alleged that there was a relationship with Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump," he said. "I believe a relationship is an ongoing interaction."

Daniels recanted both statements later in 2018, saying she agreed to them only because of the nondisclosure agreement and believed she had no choice but to make them.

She has also said her interactions with Trump were neither "romantic" nor an "affair."

"It was not romantic," she testified in a different trial. "I don't consider getting cornered coming out of a bathroom to be an affair."

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