Stormy Daniels Seeks to Depose Trump in Hush-Money Lawsuit
(Bloomberg) -- The adult-film actress who says she was paid to keep quiet about a sexual relationship with President Donald Trump asked a federal judge for permission to depose Trump and his lawyer, Michael Cohen, as part of an exchange of evidence before a trial.
Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, filed the request late Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles in her lawsuit to void the $130,000 settlement, which she claims isn’t valid because Trump didn’t sign it. The depositions would last no more than two hours each, according to the filing.
“Mr. Trump has never personally addressed any of the issues concerning the Hush Agreement in public, let alone under oath,” Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said in the filing.
The request to depose Trump and Cohen is “politically motivated,” according to a statement from Cohen’s lawyer cited by CBS News on Wednesday. Calls for comment to the White House, Cohen and lawyers for the men weren’t immediately returned.
Answering questions under oath has been a point of contention between Trump and his lawyers, particularly over whether he should sit for an interview with the Special Counsel investigating Russian interference in the election. The president has insisted on answering questions under oath, while his lawyers say that’s a bad idea.
“There is a reason why parties are placed under oath and made to answer questions during litigation -- it ensures they can’t later hide behind others or claim their answers were taken out of context,” Avenatti said in an email. The continued denials from the White House add to the importance of depositions ahead of trial, according to the filing.
Avenatti also asked for a jury trial to be set no later than 90 days from any decision on the request for depositions. He said it was necessary to have their testimony under oath to determine Trump’s personal involvement, if any, in the agreement or if he knew about deal. Avenatti also wants to determine if the payment came from the Trump Organization or was personally paid for by Cohen, as well as the full extent of Cohen’s role.
The litigation, bolstered by Clifford’s interview on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, has developed rapidly. On Monday, she claimed she was defamed by a statement Cohen issued last month that made her sound like a liar.
Avenatti is also planning to make “targeted requests” for documents directed to Trump and Cohen relating to the settlement, according to the filing.
The case is Clifford v. Trump, 2:18-cv-02217, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
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