The controversy surrounding porn star Stormy Daniels deepened yesterday. Stephanie Clifford (AKA Stormy Daniels) was reported to have finally and clearly denied that she had an affair with President Donald Trump. A statement was released under her signature with the help of counsel. However, in her interview with late night host Jimmy Kimmel, she seemed to suggest that it was not her signature. The coy denials and suggestions of Daniels in interviews is getting quite old. However, her interview left the impression that that someone faked her signature, a possible crime. In addition, if she did not have an affair with Trump, she could be liable for defamation but there are some interesting legal twists.
In the letter signed January 30, 2018, Daniels reportedly said “I am not denying this affair because I was paid ‘hush money’ as has been reported in overseas owned tabloids. I am denying this affair because it never happened.” First and foremost, the letter is signed by her theater name not her legal name.
More importantly, she seemed to back off the statement with Kimmel. When Kimmel asked about her 2011 interview on the affair and whether it was true, she “define true.”
Kimmel asked if she had a nondisclosure agreement related to her reported relationship with Trump, Daniels replied ambiguously again with “do I?” Kimmel then noted “if you didn’t have an non-disclosure agreement you most certainly could say you don’t have an non-disclosure agreement, yes?” Daniels simply replied “you’re so smart, Jimmy.” This may be Daniels’ notion of clever but she then appeared to deny the authenticity of the signature. Kimmel noted that the signature looks different and she responded . “That doesn’t look like my signature, does it?”
Here is the earlier signature:
If someone is forging her signature, it could be a crime though this is not her legal name or identity.
Daniels’ 2011 interview was never litigated as defamation because it was never published. It could have been litigated as slander but Trump’s counsel succeeded in deterring the magazine with a threat of a defamation lawsuit (despite the problematic elements of such a case). The statute of limitations on defamation in New York and California is one year. However, if she were say that the interview’s representations were true, that would constitute a new act of defamation if the representations are untrue.
However, Daniels seems intent on milking the controversy for publicity while playing coy with the facts. The suggestion that the signature is fake could itself lead to an investigation or even a defamation lawsuit. Tom Namako said that the new statement was “issued” by someone. If that person was a lawyer, Daniels is suggesting that he participated in a false or fraudulent statement.
Her lawyer is Keith Davidson who insisted “The signature is indeed hers as she signed the statement today in the presence of me and her manager, Gina Rodriguez.” He added that “She was having fun on Kimmel and being her normal playful self.”
I would like to avoid thinking about Daniels’ “playful self” but this is sheer stupidity. More importantly, Daniels is a liar no matter what account is true. She seems to relish the fact that truth means nothing to her or its implications for a matter of public importance. As for counsel, the act of a client suggesting that you are distributing a forged signature is not “playful” it is suggesting an unethical practice.