A court hearing that had been set for Thursday in adult-film actress Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his attorney was scrubbed Monday, with a judge saying he will rule on a request to lift a 90-day stay in the case based on written arguments by the attorneys.
U.S. District Judge S. James Otero had been scheduled to hear oral arguments Thursday on the motion by Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, to lift the stay and move forward with the suit against Trump and Michael Cohen.
Brent H. Blakely, Cohen’s attorney, has asked Otero to maintain the stay. He also filed a request for an emergency gag order to stop Avenatti from besmirching him and discussing the case in media appearances, but Otero denied that request on Friday.
Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — is suing Trump and Cohen, as well as the shell company Essential Consultants, seeking to nullify a 2016 non-disclosure agreement that attempted to prevent her from speaking out about her alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago.
Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her signing the deal. She claims the agreement should be nullified because Trump never personally signed it.
Through White House officials, Trump has denied the affair, although Cohen has admitted paying Daniels $130,000 as part of the agreement. He initially said he used his own money to pay Daniels and was not reimbursed by Trump. However, Trump — who initially 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 besmirched 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 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.
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