Judge Pauses Stormy Daniels’ Quest to Depose Trump, Cohen

This image released by CBS News shows Stormy Daniels, left, during an interview with Anderson Cooper which aired on Sunday, March 25, 2018, on “60 Minutes.” (CBS News/60 Minutes via AP)

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A federal judge on Thursday put the brakes on adult film star Stormy Daniels’ request to depose President Donald Trump – and expedite a jury trial – in her dispute over hush money she was paid following an alleged affair with the president.

U.S. District Judge James Otero said in a 4-page order that Daniels’ request to depose Trump and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen and to expedite a jury trial accordingly is premature since the defendants stated in court documents they intend to force Daniels into arbitration.

Otero also noted none of the defendants – Trump, Cohen and Essential Consultants, a company Daniels says Cohen set up for the sole purpose of paying her $130,000 in hush money – have filed a response to her amended complaint adding Cohen as a defendant.

In the amended complaint, Daniels also slapped Cohen with a defamation claim.

“Given that plaintiff has failed to follow certain of the court’s procedural requirements that would trigger a responsive pleading deadline for the defendants, and that such a responsive pleading may answer a number of questions raised by plaintiff’s Motion, the court declines to prematurely address these issues,” Otero wrote.

Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, first filed her lawsuit in Los Angeles County court on March 6, asking a judge to find the nondisclosure agreement between herself, Essential Consultants and Trump “void, invalid, or unenforceable” because Trump never signed it.

Trump and Essential Consultants asked to remove Daniels’ lawsuit to federal court because, Trump says, Daniels owes him $20 million – $1 million for each of the 20 times she’s violated the nondisclosure agreement

Otero’s ruling comes in response to a memo filed Wednesday by Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti seeking an expedited jury trial to begin “no later than 90 days” after the request is approved, and for depositions of both Trump and Cohen to occur within three weeks of the ruling.

On Thursday, Avenatti tweeted that Otero’s order does “not bode well” for Trump and that it may signal the judge will agree with their requests to depose Trump and Cohen and order a jury trial.

Neither Avenatti nor Cohen responded to requests for comment by press time.

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