Lawyers in Trump-Stormy War Trade Personal Barbs

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) – The public spat between President Donald Trump’s attorneys and adult film star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, playing out in media interviews and on Twitter in recent weeks, spread to court papers in Daniels’ lawsuit over the validity of a nondisclosure agreement she signed in 2016.

The case, and specifically the tension between attorneys on both sides, is boiling over. Court papers detail them passing blame back and forth. At one point, Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti uses a brief to complain Trump’s attorneys are “attacking” him unnecessarily, which “has no place” in court.

Late Thursday, Trump and Essential Consultants – a company Trump attorney Michael Cohen set up for the purpose of paying Daniels the hush money – asked U.S District Judge James Otero for more time to answer Daniel’s claims that Cohen defamed her in public statements about the case. The current deadline is April 9.

Brent Blakely, the Manhattan Beach, California-based attorney representing Trump and Essential Consultants, also said granting their arbitration request would “likely obviate the need” to file a response to Daniels’ claims.

Blakely said he “diligently attempted” to get Avenatti to agree to the extension request out of court and now has insufficient time to meet the deadline. Specifically, Blakely says Avenatti stonewalled him for over 30 hours and then suggested discussing the matter by phone over the weekend – even though he had time to make no less than three TV news appearances.

Furthermore, Blakely says Avenatti demanded that Cohen arbitrate the defamation claims against him if Otero grants the request to arbitrate Daniels’ lawsuit – an “entirely unreasonable condition,” he says.

For that reason, Blakley said in an email to Avenatti, he does not “intend to have any further communications with you that go beyond the strict requirements of the court’s rules.”

Avenatti responded 90 minutes later: “I will disregard your personal attacks in the interest of professionalism.”

In this image from video, Michael Avenatti, attorney and spokesperson for adult film star Stormy Daniels, listens to a reporters’ question during an interview at The Associated Press, Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Joe Frederick)

On Friday, Avenatti filed an opposition to the extension request, saying Otero intended for the deadlines he set to be met.

“This is not a simple case of moving deadlines,” he wrote.

He also took umbrage over Trump attorney Charles Harder’s unexplained absence on an April 2 meet-and-confer call.

As for his suggestion to move a discussion on the extension to the weekend, Avenatti said it was to accommodate Blakely’s trial schedule.

Cohen created Essential Consultants to facilitate a $130,000 payment to Daniels, given name Stephanie Clifford, as part of a nondisclosure agreement to keep an alleged affair with Trump under wraps. Daniels signed the agreement days before the 2016 presidential election.

Daniels 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.

Last week, a federal judge halted a motion by Clifford’s attorney to expedite a jury trial as well as depositions of Trump and Cohen, noting Trump’s motion to compel arbitration. Avenatti has vowed to fight to keep the case in court.

“We will vigorously oppose the just-filed motion by DJT and MC to have this case decided in a private arbitration, in a private conf room, hidden from the American public,” Avenatti tweeted.

“This is a democracy and this matter should be decided in an open court of law owned by the people.”

On Tuesday, Avenatti sent a letter to the U.S Treasury Department requesting to see its suspicious activity report of an account tied to Cohen’s payment to Daniels.

In the past, both Trump and the White House have denied the affairs. Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday, Trump said he had no knowledge of Cohen’s payment to Daniels.

Avenatti also asked the Trump Organization to preserve all documents connected to Cohen and Daniels since Cohen used his Trump Organization email to make the payment arrangements.

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

A hearing in the case is set for April 30.


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