Stormy Asks for Lift of Stay in Trump-Cohen Hush Money Case

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) – Citing new facts and evidence, adult film star Stormy Daniels asked a federal judge Thursday to reconsider a delay in her lawsuit to void a hush agreement she signed over a sexual encounter she claims she had with President Donald Trump.

In a 25-page motion filed in Los Angeles federal court, Daniels asked U.S. District Judge James Otero to reconsider his April 27 stay of her case for 90 days. Otero granted the delay 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 the motion, Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti says the request for modification is justified by “new revelations” 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.

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

Her lawsuit against Trump, Cohen and a company Cohen set up to facilitate the hush 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 things Trump and Cohen have said 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.

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.

According to the motion, Trump and Cohen are “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.

The motion says Daniels will only seek to depose Trump, meaning Cohen will not have to assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Without a Cohen deposition, the court can clear its docket and use “judicial resources” more efficiently, the motion says.

The court’s previous concerns about “inefficiencies associated with compelling [Cohen] to be deposed when he would merely assert Fifth Amendment objections” would no longer apply, Daniels says.

Daniels’ interest in reversing the delay is also prompted by Trump’s renewed public statements that he seeks damages from Daniels over her claims, which he has called “false and extortionist,” the motion says.

The motion does not seek to lift the stay on discovery in the case, however.

Attorneys for Trump and Cohen did not return a call requesting comment by press time.

Avenatti’s office did not return a call requesting comment on the motion. But the attorney wrote on Twitter shortly after filing that the motion seeks “to lift the stay in light of the conduct/statements by Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani. It is now clear that Mr. Cohen’s invocation of the 5th Amend has no bearing on our ability to depose Mr. Trump. #Basta

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

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.

The report described 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 said.

Disclosure of the payment was expected in light of an interview that Giuliani gave to Fox News host Sean Hannity – an on-air admission that ran counter to Cohen’s prior description of the payment.

On May 18, Cohen moved to block Avenatti from appearing in the New York case stemming from last month’s FBI raid of Cohen’s home and office.

Avenatti wants to appear in the case to make sure that communications from Daniels are protected by attorney-client privilege. The California-based attorney needs the court’s permission for admission pro hac vice because he isn’t licensed to practice law in New York.

A hearing on Thursday’s motion is set for June 21 before U.S District Judge James Otero.

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