Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels’ attorney said Wednesday he is confident a federal judge in Los Angeles will approve his request to depose President Donald Trump about Daniels’ claim she had an affair with Trump and that he failed to sign a non-disclosure agreement about it
“The other side is attempting to force this case into a private arbitration hidden from the public where the public doesn’t learn what really happened,” attorney Michael Avenatti said on “CBS This Morning.”
“In order for the judge to determine that, we are arguing that under the law we’re entitled to the deposition,” he said.
Avenatti filed an amended complaint Monday against Trump, adding a defamation allegation against the president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, who has accused Daniels of lying in her claim about the alleged affair with Trump a decade ago and her accusation that someone physically threatened her after she went public.
On Tuesday, Avenatti filed a motion in Los Angeles requesting, as part of the discovery process, two-hour depositions of Trump and Cohen. He argued in the court papers that questioning Trump is critical for resolving the issue of whether he was aware of the non-disclosure agreement Daniels signed.
“… There is likely to be a factual dispute between the parties regarding whether Defendant Trump was aware of the Hush Agreement, whether he was a party to the agreement and whether he ever consented to the agreement,” according to the court document. “This issue goes directly to whether a valid contract was ever in fact formed between the parties.
“… Finally, if Mr. Trump was aware of the Hush Agreement, given that he never signed it, plaintiff must be permitted to explore through document demands and deposition testimony how he claims he communicated his acceptance and assent of the agreement, including his assent to the terms requiring him to provide plaintiff with a release of claims and a covenant not to sue.”
A hearing on the issue is scheduled in downtown Los Angeles at 10 a.m. April 30.
Asked about the development Wednesday morning, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declined to comment, saying there is “nothing new to add” to the discussion. Regarding a possible deposition by the president, she said, “I’m not going to get into a hypothetical question.”
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, appeared on “60 Minutes” on Sunday and described a brief affair she alleges she had with Trump more than a decade ago before he ran for president. Daniels said she had unprotected sex with Trump in 2006 and was later threatened for telling her story.
Trump has not directly addressed Daniels’ allegations. However, early Monday, Trump posted a cryptic tweet: “So much Fake News. Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate.” Sanders has denied that Trump had an affair with Daniels.
Daniels initially filed suit on March 6, alleging Trump never signed the “hush agreement” over their alleged affair, rendering the nondisclosure agreement “legally null and void.” Daniels contends that she received $130,000 for her silence, but claims the agreement is invalid because of the missing signature.
In response to that lawsuit, Cohen filed papers alleging he could seek as much as $20 million from the actress for breaches of the nondisclosure agreement.