LOS ANGELES (CN) – President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen said Friday porn star Stormy Daniels’ recent motion to lift a stay in her lawsuit to void a hush agreement is motivated by her desire to escape the threat of money damages and does nothing to change the court’s decision.
Daniels asked U.S. District Judge James Otero on May 24 to reconsider a delay in her lawsuit to void an agreement she signed days before the 2016 presidential election over a sexual encounter she claims she had with Trump in 2006.
Otero granted the 90 day delay on April 27 over concerns regarding criminal proceedings involving Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen and that his Fifth Amendment rights would be violated since Cohen is also a defendant in Daniels’ lawsuit.
In an 18-page complaint filed in federal court, Cohen called the stay “appropriate to prevent manifest prejudice” against him and to protect his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination since his business dealings are under investigation in New York.
Brent Blakely, an attorney for Cohen and Essential Consultants, a company he created to facilitate payment to Daniels, called Cohen’s testimony in the hush money case “indispensable” and said without it he’d be “unable to adequately defend” himself.
In the May 24 motion, Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti said the request to lift the stay is justified by “new revelations” of Trump’s reimbursement to Cohen and that the criminal probe of Cohen’s business may not be “as compelling as previously argued” by his attorneys.
“The new developments in the case make clear that less drastic measures than a complete stay of all proceedings are available,” the motion said.
Recent statements by Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani indicate the New York case pertains solely to Cohen’s businesses and that the payment to Daniels didn’t violate campaign finance laws.
On May 16, the Office of Government Ethics released Trump’s financial disclosure form which notes a reimbursement to Cohen for the payment to Daniels.
In Friday’s motion, Cohen’s attorneys said the “new” statements were irrelevant and distracted from Daniels’ “true goal” which is to get defendants to “litigate this case without any further testimony from Mr. Cohen, their most knowledgeable witness.”
According to Daniels’ motion, Trump and Cohen would be “fully equipped” to mount a defense against Daniels’ declaratory judgment claim without Cohen since they would have use of Cohen’s previous declarations, documents obtained in discovery and Giuliani’s testimony, among other things.
According to the May 24 motion, Daniels will only seek to depose Trump, meaning Cohen will not have to assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
In his opposition to the motion, Cohen said Daniels “remains unable to articulate any cognizable undue prejudice to her” as a result of the stay and wants the case to proceed “in order for her to ‘escape the cloud of millions of dollars of alleged damages and liability.’ ”
Cohen’s attorneys have accused Daniels of violating the confidentiality clauses more than 20 times and said she could be liable for $1 million in damages for each violation.
Attorneys for Trump and Cohen did not return a call requesting comment by press time.
A call made to Avenatti’s office was not returned by press time.
Daniels, whose birth name is Stephanie Clifford, says Cohen paid her $130,000 in 2016 to keep quiet about a one-night stand she claims to have had with Trump in 2006 in Lake Tahoe.
Her lawsuit against Trump, Cohen and EC argues the nondisclosure agreement she signed is invalid since Trump never signed it. She has offered to repay the money to Cohen.
Daniels sued to get out of the agreement and added defamation claims over statements Trump and Cohen have made about her and the agreement in the press and on Twitter.
Cohen is under federal investigation in New York where his home, office and hotel room were raided last month for documents pertaining to the Daniels payment.
Trump and the White House continue to deny the affair with Daniels took place.
A hearing on Daniels’ May 24 motion is set for June 21.