U.S. District Court Judge James Otero held off on a decision to rule today on a petition by lawyers for President Trump and his lawyer/fixer, Michael Cohen, to delay the lawsuit filed by porn star Stormy Daniels over her alleged sexual liaison with Trump in 2006 in the wake of the FBI raids seizing Cohen’s files.
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Saying that it was not sufficient for Cohen’s attorneys to file a statement declaring that the lawyer’s Fifth Amendment rights would be at risk in any criminal proceedings resulting from the raids if the suit proceeded, he insisted that Cohen file the statement himself, according to a report in USA Today.
The case is an attempt by Daniels and her attorney Michael Avenatti to declare the non-discosure agreement concerning the affair null and void since it was never signed by the president.
The $130,000 payment made to the adult film star and director has since become an issue in the investigation of potential campaign finance violations that the payment may have triggered, depending upon the ultimate source of the money for the payment. Cohen claims he paid it out his own pocket by taking a second mortgage on his home and was never reimbursed by the president whom he claims knew nothing about the settlement.
The materials seized by the FBI may contain information that pertains to the veracity of Cohen’s claims and places the long-time Trump Organization lawyer in a difficult predicament.
Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti objects to postponing the suit and took to Twitter after the hearing to press his argument against delaying it.
Always a bad sign when the judge tells you that your motion has “gaping holes in it,” as the judge told the attys for MC and DJT this AM. I don’t know why they continue to hide what they know about the FBI raids. Time to come clean and let the chips fall where they may. #basta
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 20, 2018
In a conversation with reporters after the hearing this morning, Avenatti swore to respond with a defamation lawsuit to President Trump’s tweet earlier this week calling the release of a sketch of the man Daniels says threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 to keep her from continuing speaking about her affair with the president “a total con job,” according to The Daily Beast.
A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)! https://t.co/9Is7mHBFda
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
“I fully anticipate that we will be amending this complaint in short order, or filing a separate action against Mr. Trump for his defamatory, outrageous statements made earlier this week where he effectively called my client a liar and stated that she was trying to pull a con on the American people,” Avenatti said.
With the ruling to delay the lawsuit over the NDA still to be decided, Avenatti is confident that he and Daniels will prevail in overturning the NDA quickly.
“Even though Mr. Cohen expresses concern about making self-incriminating statements … the record demonstrates that Mr. Cohen has already freely and openly discussed this matter in the public, including under oath in declarations filed in this case,” Avenatti wrote in his court filing.
Avenatti added that the defendants have not yet been indicted for criminal activity and did not present evidence “to demonstrate the materials the FBI seized have any relationship to this case.”
That outlines exactly the biggest problem Michael Cohen has right now. If he does demonstrate the materials the FBI has seized are relevant to the case then they can be subject to being introduced in Daniels’ lawsuit. If the evidence doesn’t confirm what Cohen has already testified to in court, it’s all over for Cohen, and depending on what the evidence does show, for Trump as well.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.