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Why Stormy Daniels' new lawsuit against Donald Trump matters

Trump has said effectively nothing about the Stormy Daniels controversy, though that may not be sustainable now that the porn star is suing the president.
Image: Stormy Daniels Hosts Super Bowl Party At Sapphire Las Vegas Gentlemen's Club
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 04: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels hosts a Super Bowl party at Sapphire Las Vegas Gentlemen's Club on February 4, 2018...

Donald Trump and his White House team have said effectively nothing about the Stormy Daniels controversy, though that may not be sustainable now that the porn star is suing the president.

Adult film star Stormy Daniels sued Donald Trump Tuesday, alleging that he never signed the nondisclosure agreement that his lawyer had arranged with her.The civil suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by NBC News, alleges that her agreement not to disclose her "intimate" relationship with Trump is not valid because while both Daniels and Trump's attorney Michael Cohen signed it, Trump never did.

The lawsuit tells a story that's consistent with the contours of the controversy as we know it: Trump and Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, allegedly began an intimate relationship in the summer of 2006, and their affair lasted "well into" 2007. When Daniels prepared to share the details of the alleged affair during Trump's presidential campaign, she accepted $130,000 as part of what the civil suit describes as a "hush agreement."

The porn star's lawyers are now asking a California court to declare the deal "invalid, unenforceable, and/or void under the doctrine of unconscionability."

I'll leave it to legal experts to reflect on the strength of the case -- NBC News' report goes into more detail -- but at this point, the lawsuit's existence tells us something important: Stormy Daniels is eager to talk.

The scandal has unfolded gradually over the course of several weeks, but everything we know about the story has come from journalists who've done a lot of effective digging. Daniels, however, has largely honored the agreement that bought her silence. She did sit down for an interview with ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, but even then, Daniels was careful not to violate the terms of her deal.

Now, however, Daniels wants to scrap the deal, and she's headed to court to help make that happen. And if she succeeds, it's likely the adult-film actress will have an even higher public profile, sharing details of her alleged previous relationship with Trump, which the president's spokespersons claim did not occur.

Meanwhile, as we discussed yesterday, Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, seems to have implicated his client in the controversy, suggesting he was in communications with Trump about the pre-election porn-star payment and expected to be reimbursed the $130,000. When it comes to the question about the legality of the apparent hush-money, this matters a great deal.

And then, of course, there are the banks that facilitated the transaction, which have raised concerns about the payment. Indeed, the financial institutions' recent actions suggest the matter may already be under some kind of official scrutiny.

This president didn't need another scandal. Trump has one anyway.