A Los Angeles federal judge Tuesday heard arguments but made no ruling on an offer by attorneys for President Donald Trump to tear up a non-disclosure agreement that involved a $130,000 payout to an adult film actress who wrote a book about her alleged 2006 affair with Trump.
Attorneys for Trump told U.S. District Judge S. James Otero that the president now agreed that the hush money pact with Stormy Daniels should be “extinguished” and that the shell company set up by now-convicted former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to handle the payment would not seek return of the cash.
It was not known when the judge would issue his decision on whether to toss Daniels’ lawsuit based on a finding that the case was moot.
Daniels signed the non-disclosure agreement prior to the 2016 presidential election and sued to have the agreement negated, arguing that Trump never signed it.
Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti, however, refused to accept the offer Tuesday, arguing that the notice to nullify the pact was not binding because it had not been signed by Trump personally. The combative attorney also argued that the non-disclosure pact could be voided only if the judge based the decision on “public policy grounds” and that the payment to Daniels was “a violation of campaign finance law.”
Otero responded that Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is entitled only to a declaration that the agreement is “unenforceable.”
Another sticking point, according to Avenatti, involve his fees — not discussed in Trump’s offer to negate the hush money agreement — for his work representing Daniels in the lawsuit.
Brent H. Blakely, attorney for Cohen and the shell company Essential Consultants, told the court he would oppose any effort by Avenatti to have the defense pay his fees.
Last month, Otero ordered Daniels to pay $293,052.33 in attorney fees, costs and sanctions to Trump’s attorneys over a failed defamation lawsuit brought by the actress.
That lawsuit alleged that the president defamed Daniels on Twitter when he suggested she had lied about being threatened to keep quiet about their alleged decade-old relationship.
The judge dismissed the claim in October on free speech grounds.
Daniels, 39, has said she had sex once with the married Trump in 2006 and carried on a platonic relationship with him for about a year afterward. She detailed the alleged affair in her book “Full Disclosure,” published late last year. Trump has denied any sexual relationship with Daniels.