By MICHAEL BALSAMO
WASHINGTON (AP) — The company set up by Donald Trump’s former personal attorney offered Friday to rescind Stormy Daniels’ hush-money agreement and drop its planned $20 million lawsuit against the porn actress for allegedly violating the deal.
An attorney for Essential Consultants said the company wants Daniels to repay the $130,000 she was paid as part of the nondisclosure agreement, which was signed days before the 2016 presidential election, according to a letter included in a Friday night court filing.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006, which Trump denies, and was suing to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement.
Essential Consultants agreed to rescind Daniels’ agreement and back off its plan to fight her in private arbitration. It would also drop its plan to sue Daniels for more than $20 million for violating the agreement by discussing her alleged relationship with Trump, Essential Consultants attorney Brent Blakely said in the letter to her lawyer.
The company was set up by Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty in federal court last month to campaign-finance violations and other charges. Cohen told the judge that he and Trump had arranged the payment of hush money to Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election.
Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, has vowed to compel Trump to provide testimony under oath in the case, but Friday night’s development could hinder that if a judge dismisses Daniels’ case.
Avenatti told The Associated Press that Friday’s development is “a stunt by Michael Cohen trying to fix it so that Donald Trump is not deposed.”
Avenatti said he did not have to accept the offer and would not settle the case without deposing Trump. He believes the court should invalidate the agreement because it violated campaign finance laws, he said.
Daniels is also suing Trump and Cohen for defamation.