Lawyers for President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney filed a request Friday in federal court seeking an extension on a deadline related to the lawsuit brought by porn actress Stormy Daniels, complaining that Daniels’s attorney has been unresponsive to their correspondence while making numerous TV appearances and had mischaracterized conversations between the legal teams in TV interviews.
Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s attorney, said in a response filed later Friday that it was his position that the court gave explicit instructions that its deadlines be met and that the issues raised by Trump’s legal team are of its own making. Of the “personalized attacks” against him, Avenatti wrote he had no plans to respond except that “plaintiff believes [they] are completely irrelevant” and “have no place in defendants’ filing.”
Brent Blakely, the attorney representing Trump attorney Michel Cohen in Daniels’ lawsuit to void a nondisclosure agreement regarding an alleged sexual relationship she had with the president in 2006, complained in his request that he twice contacted Avenatti this week in an effort to discuss the extension but that Avenatti did not reasonably make himself available.
“Mr. Avenatti did not respond to Mr. Blakely’s email for over thirty (30) hours, and when he did respond, Mr. Avenatti offered to schedule the call over the weekend (i.e. at least 2 days later),” the request reads. “In the interim, on April 4, 2018, Mr. Avenatti appeared on at least three national television news shows to discuss this case: (a) Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN; (b) Megyn Kelly Today on NBC News; and (c) New Day on CNN, with Alisyn Camerota.”
Because the current deadline that Trump’s legal team is seeking to extend is next Monday, a weekend call would not have given them enough time to adequately address the issue, forcing them, Blakely wrote, to file their request without an agreement from Avenatti. Included in Blakely's filing is email traffic between him and Avenatti, including one message from Avenatti asking whether or not Trump was ever a party to the nondisclosure agreement, a question that goes unanswered in the included emails.
Avenatti, in his response, wrote that he had repeatedly told Cohen's attorney Blakely this week that it was his belief that the court’s instructions and deadlines were clear and meant to be followed without deviation. Further, he argued that an attorney representing Trump himself had not joined a conference call between the two legal teams last Monday and that “this is the actual cause of the delay defendants now complain of.”
As for the alleged lag in email response, Avenatti said the Wednesday, April 3 email was sent at 10:49 p.m. on the West Coast, where both the plaintiff and defendant legal teams are based, but that he was on the East Coast at the time, where it was 1:49 a.m. Avenatti made multiple TV appearances the next day on New York-based shows, but wrote in his filing that he responded to Cohen's attorney's request the next morning to say he could not meet at their suggested time because of travel plans.
Avenatti said he suggested a weekend meeting “if that is more convenient” because he knew Blakely was preparing for an upcoming trial.
“The timeline laid out by Defendants’ counsel only confirms that Plaintiff’s counsel has conducted himself appropriately and that Defendants only have themselves to blame for the predicament they find themselves in relating to timing,” Avenatti wrote.
Trump has denied Daniels’s allegations that the two had sex after meeting in 2006 at a celebrity golf event in Reno, Nevada, and said Thursday that he knew nothing of the $130,000 payment that his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen paid Daniels weeks before the 2016 presidential election as part of the nondisclosure agreement. Cohen has said he paid that money out of his own pocket and that Trump did not know about it.
Since filing Daniels’s lawsuit to void the agreement – based on the fact that Trump did not sign it – Avenatti has been a regular presence on TV news programs, making the case for his client and challenging Cohen and Trump to publicly address the case.