Judge Denies Cohen Bid to Silence Avenatti

Joined by her attorney Michael Avenatti, porn actress Stormy Daniels sat down with the co-hosts of “The View” on April 17, 2018, for her first live television interview. (ABC/Heidi Gutman)

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A federal judge on Friday denied a request by President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen to prevent porn star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer from speaking to the press, finding Cohen did not show the need for immediate relief.

Cohen’s attorney Brent Blakely filed a restraining order Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles seeking to stop Michael Avenatti from “communicating with the press and/or public regarding the merits of this case,” according to the filing.

Cohen argued Avenatti, whose client claims she had an affair with Trump, is depriving him of the right to a fair trial by participating in television news interviews – driven by a “seemingly unquenchable thirst for publicity” – where “he routinely denigrates” Cohen with claims of criminal conduct.

In a single-page court order issued Friday, U.S District Judge S. James Otero said Blakely and Cohen have “not demonstrated in the application that immediate, irreparable injury would occur in the absence of emergency ex parte relief.”

Otero said ex parte applications – those made without a normal hearing and opposing debate – are discouraged and “are solely for extraordinary relief.”

The judge also cited a standing order that said ex parte applications “impose an unnecessary administrative burden on the court” and on “opposing counsel who are required to make a hurried response under pressure, usually for no good reason.”

Blakely’s office did not immediately return a request for comment Friday.

Writing on Twitter hours before the court order was issued, Avenatti said Cohen’s motion requesting a restraining order is an “assault” on his freedom of speech.

“For over 12 yrs, Mr. Cohen and his boss Mr. Trump have routinely tried to ‘shut people up’ and hide the truth through intimidation & threats,” Avenatti wrote. “The motion is right out of their playbook. And their assault on the 1st Amendment continues.”

Hours after the order was issued, Avenatti again took to Twitter to share a letter sent Friday by prosecutors to U.S District Judge Kimba Wood, who is presiding over a case in the Southern District of New York probing Cohen’s business dealings.

The letter revealed that attorneys have succeeded in reconstructing 16 pages of shredded documents seized in an April 9 FBI raid of Cohen’s home, office and hotel room. Prosecutors also wrote they have gained access to 731 pages of messages and call logs that were previously encrypted on Cohen’s cell phones.

“The second and third bullets could pose huge problem for Mr. Cohen and ultimately Mr. Trump (especially the third bullet)!!BTW, so much for encryption protection,” Avenatti said.

Avenatti had previously sought to appear in New York case to ensure that communications from Daniels to Cohen were protected by attorney-client privilege as attorneys combed through evidence seized in the raid.

Avenatti is required to file the opposition to Cohen’s June 14 motion by June 25.

Daniels, whose birth name is Stephanie Clifford, says Cohen paid her $130,000 to keep quiet during the 2016 presidential election about a one-night stand she claims to have had with Trump in 2006 in Lake Tahoe.

Her California lawsuit against Trump, Cohen and Essential Consultants – a company Cohen set up to facilitate the payment – 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.

Trump and the White House continue to deny the affair with Daniels took place.

Last month, the Office of Government Ethics released Trump’s financial disclosure form, which describes a 2016 expense incurred by Cohen in the amount of $100,001 to $250,000.

“Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017,” the report states.

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