Trump just made the case against himself a whole lot stronger.
Trump broke his silence on Stormy Daniels Thursday evening, denying any knowledge of the $130,000 payment his personal attorney made to the porn star in exchange for her silence just days before the 2016 presidential election.
Trump’s denial was nothing less than a gift for Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing Daniels in a lawsuit seeking to void a non-disclosure agreement blocking her from publicly speaking about her sexual encounter with Trump.
In the suit, Daniels and her lawyer claim that the agreement is unenforceable because Trump didn’t sign it — a claim that appears to have gotten a lot stronger now that Trump has denied even being aware of it.
“It’s a very merry Christmas here in our camp,” Avenatti told MSNBC’s Ari Melber Thursday evening, shortly after news broke about Trump’s comments.
As Avenatti explained in a tweet just before his TV appearance, “The strength of our case just went up exponentially. You can’t have an agreement when one party claims to know nothing about it.”
“This is what happens when you have an undisciplined client,” he told Melber, speaking about Trump’s denial. “We waited for it and lo and behold, Christmas has arrived!”
This is the first time Trump has publicly addressed the controversy. Asked why his lawyer made the payment to Daniels, Trump responded “you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”
As Avenatti pointed out, Trump appears to have thrown Cohen “under the bus” with the statement.
According to legal experts, if Cohen made the payment from his own funds and without Trump’s knowledge, it could be considered an illegal campaign contribution. Furthermore, ethical rules prohibit attorneys from settling a claim without the client’s knowledge or using their personal funds to pay for a settlement.
“The statements that Donald Trump made on Air Force One are serious for Donald Trump and serious for Cohen,” Avenatti said. “These guys are making it as they go along and our case just got a whole lot better.”
“If the president didn’t know anything about the payment, then he didn’t know anything about the agreement, and in that case you can’t have an agreement,” he added.
And unfortunately for Trump, his attorney can’t save him from his own mouth.