Stormy-Trump Flap Over Hush Money Tossed as Moot

This combination photo shows, from left, President Donald Trump, attorney Michael Cohen and adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Cohen has been ordered to appear in federal court in New York, Monday, April 16, 2018, for arguments over last week’s raid of his home and office. The raid sought information on a $130,000 payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had sex with a married Trump in 2006. (AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Los Angeles federal judge on Thursday tossed adult film star Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit seeking to tear up a hush agreement over her alleged affair with President Donald Trump, finding Trump’s promise not to sue Daniels makes the case moot.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump to get out of a nondisclosure agreement presented to her by Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen and the shell company Cohen set up to facilitate the agreement, Essential Consultants. Under the agreement, Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about the alleged affair.

But after Daniels sued Trump to get out of the agreement, Trump filed a covenant promising not to sue Daniels if she spoke of the affair. U.S. District Judge S. James Otero said in a 14-page order Thursday that covenant made Daniels’ suit moot.

“Defendants’ covenants make it impossible for defendants to sue plaintiff based on the agreement,” Otero wrote. “There is no ‘case or controversy’ because plaintiff has received exactly what she wanted –proof that the agreement is not enforceable.”

Otero found little weight in Essential Consultants’ argument that Daniels’ first amended complaint amounted to a rescission of the contract, since Daniels never sought rescission in the first place. Furthermore, the judge said the court’s lack of jurisdiction makes the rescission argument irrelevant as well.

“Without subject matter jurisdiction, the court cannot provide plaintiff a specific remedy, whether it is rescission of the agreement or anything else,” Otero wrote.

However, he remanded the case to Los Angeles County Superior Court where Daniels originally filed. Otero does not in a footnote that remanding “does not mean the litigation continues in state court.”

Trump – who has denied having an affair with Daniels – arranged the hush payment to Daniels in order to silence her during his presidential campaign, according to recent testimony by Cohen before Congress.

Trump’s attorney Charles Harder said in a statement Thursday that the ruling – combined with the $293,000 Otero ordered Daniels to pay this past December after her defamation lawsuit against the president failed – represents a “total victory” for the Trump.

“The U.S. District Court confirmed today that the claim against the president has no basis in law,” Harder said.

But Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti said his client is the winner here.

“The court found that Ms. Daniels received everything she asked for by way of the lawsuit – she won,” Avenatti said.

Essential Consultants’ attorney Brent Blakely, meanwhile, had words for Avenatti.

“Clifford’s attorney would claim victory if he got run over by a bus,” Blakely said in a statement. “Clifford has lost every argument in these lawsuits since day one – her defamation cases have been dismissed and now the court has granted EC’s motion regarding subject matter jurisdiction.” 

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