Stormy Daniels’ lawyer renews efforts to depose Trump
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Stormy Daniels’ lawyer has renewed efforts to depose President Donald Trump in the porn actress’ legal fight to invalidate a confidentiality agreement she signed days before the 2016 presidential election, according to court documents filed Thursday.
Attorney Michael Avenatti argues that U.S. District Judge S. James Otero should reconsider the order he issued last month delaying the case and force Trump to answer questions under oath and allow him to obtain documents in the lawsuit.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said she had sex once with Trump in 2006 and carried on a platonic relationship with him for about a year and is suing to dissolve a confidentiality agreement that prevents her from discussing it. She argues the nondisclosure agreement should be invalidated because Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, signed it, but the president did not.
Trump has denied any sexual relationship with Daniels.
Cohen had sought a delay in the case after his home and office were raided by the FBI in April. The agents were seeking records about the nondisclosure agreement that Daniels had signed, among other things. Cohen argued that the criminal investigation overlaps with issues in the lawsuit and his right against self-incrimination could be adversely affected because he won’t be able to respond and defend himself.
Last month, Otero agreed to delay the case for 90 days, citing the criminal investigation that Cohen is facing.
In Thursday’s court filing, Avenatti said he would agree not to take sworn testimony from Cohen during the 90-day period, but said “new facts call into question whether Mr. Cohen’s Fifth Amendment rights relating to the matters at issue in this case are as compelling as previously argued.”
Instead, Avenatti wants to depose Trump, who he says is not under investigation for his dealings with Stormy Daniels.
Avenatti argues because of the new evidence — mainly statements made by Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani about the Cohen investigation — there are now “less drastic measures” the judge should consider, instead of the complete stay of the case that is currently in place.
Trump told reporters on Air Force One in April that he hadn’t known about the settlement with Daniels. But during an interview with Fox News earlier this month, Giuliani seemed to contradict him by saying Trump was aware of the payment from Cohen to Daniels and suggested the settlement had been made because Trump was in the final stretch of his presidential campaign.
Trump revealed in his financial disclosure last week that he reimbursed Cohen as much as $250,000 for unspecified “expenses,” but it didn’t make a specific mention of the Daniels payment.
“Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump shot themselves in the foot by publicly making statements regarding the issues in our case. We believe the motion is on very solid footing,” Avenatti told The Associated Press.
Trump’s attorney, Charles Harder, said he believes Avenatti’s motion “has no merit whatsoever” and vowed to oppose it.
A hearing has been set for June 21 in federal court in Los Angeles.
Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey in Washington contributed to this report.