President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer filed papers Monday in Los Angeles asking that a judge issue a gag order against Stormy Daniels’ media-savvy attorney “to preserve the integrity of the judicial system.”
In the seven-page document, filed in Los Angeles federal court, Michael Cohen’s lawyer Brent H. Blakely argues that a restraining order is necessary because opposing counsel Michael Avenatti has appeared more than 170 times on television and posted over 500 tweets smearing Cohen in order to litigate his case “in the court of public opinion.”
Porn actress Daniels is suing Trump and Cohen, as well as the shell company Essential Consultants, seeking to invalidate a non-disclosure agreement she signed days before the 2016 presidential election that attempted to prevent her from speaking out about a one-night stand she alleges she had with Trump more than a decade ago.
U.S. District Judge S. James Otero ordered a three-month stay of the case in April in light of a criminal investigation of Cohen that is continuing in New York. Otero is scheduled to revisit the lawsuit at a July 27 hearing in downtown Los Angeles.
Blakely contends that Avenatti is similar to a “small-town carnival magician” whose “tiny bag of tricks” amounts to a “smear campaign” against his client Cohen. Avenatti has maintained an “unprecedented level of self-promotion” for many months, Blakely alleges.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said she had sex once with the married Trump in 2006 and carried on a platonic relationship with him for about a year afterwards. Trump has denied any sexual relationship with Daniels.
Cohen admitted paying Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her signing the “hush agreement.” The actress claims the agreement should be nullified because, although Cohen signed it, Trump never did.
Cohen initially said he used his own money to pay Daniels and was not reimbursed by Trump. However, Trump — who first publicly denied knowledge of the payment — subsequently conceded that Cohen was reimbursed.
The lawsuit also accuses Cohen of defamation over comments he made about Daniels’ truthfulness. Daniels filed a separate defamation suit against Trump in New York, alleging the president libeled her by saying she lied about a man she claims threatened her to force her to keep quiet about the alleged affair with Trump.
Avenatti has a second suit pending in Los Angeles federal court — but it may be removed to Superior Court — on behalf of Daniels against her former attorney, Keith Davidson, and Cohen, alleging the two men “colluded’ and acted to “manipulate’ her in order to benefit Trump. Otero set a Sept. 4 scheduling conference in that case.