Lawyers for porn star Stormy Daniels are seeking to lift a judge's 90-day hold on her lawsuit over a $130,000 deal she struck before the 2016 election to keep silent about a sexual encounter she says she had with President Donald Trump.
A federal judge imposed the stay last month as questions swirled about whether longtime Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels in 2016, was about to be indicted. Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, cited extensive comments about the issue by Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani in saying the stay should be removed.
"The general premise is that Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani have, once again, shot themselves in the foot by making public statements related to the $130,000 payment," Avenatti told POLITICO Thursday. "They clearly don't need Mr. Cohen to mount a defense in the case. There's no need to wait for resolution of the criminal matter...Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump don't seem to have a problem defending themselves on 'Hannity', so they can certainly defend themselves in this case."
Lawyers for Trump and Cohen did not immediately respond to inquiries about the planned motion, but a scheduling filing Avenatti submitted Wednesday said the president and his longtime personal attorney indicated they planned to oppose lifting the stay. Avenatti used Twitter Thursday to post a copy of his motion to reactivate the case, but it was not yet in the court's official electronic files. Avenatti said he and Daniels were awaiting a hearing date from the court.
The motion says Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, wants to proceed with discovery in the case and is willing to avoid a deposition Cohen. The Trump associate has said through his attorneys that, in light of an ongoing FBI investigation that led to raids of his office, home and hotel room in New York, he would assert his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions.
Daniels sued Cohen and Trump in a county court in Los Angeles in March, seeking to void the 2016 deal. The suit also accuses Cohen of defamation over comments related to the episode. Cohen and Trump quickly moved the case to federal court. U.S. District Judge S. James Otero, a George W. Bush appointee, agreed to the 90-day stay last month.
Daniels also filed a separate defamation suit against Trump in New York last month, accusing him of libeling her by denying her account that a man threatened her in a casino parking lot in 2011 to get her to keep quiet about her relationship with Trump.
Attorneys are asking Otero to hold a hearing on the motion to lift the stay during the week of June 18, but no hearing has yet been scheduled.