Stormy Daniels Suit Halted Amid Trump Lawyer Criminal Probe
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump and his lawyer, Michael Cohen, won a temporary halt of the lawsuit by adult film star Stormy Daniels over her alleged tryst with Trump while a criminal probe of Cohen is under way.
U.S. District Judge S. James Otero in Los Angeles issued a stay Friday and set a status conference for July 27, saying he thinks Cohen will probably be indicted. Cohen has told the judge he will assert his right against self-incrimination under the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment in the lawsuit after the FBI raided and searched his residence, office and hotel room this month.
Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Daniels, responded in a tweet that “Justice delayed is justice denied.” He vowed to appeal the ruling.
“While we certainly respect Judge Otero’s 90-day stay order based on Mr. Cohen’s pleading of the 5th, we do not agree with it,” Avenatti said.
Daniels sued under her real name, Stephanie Clifford, to undo a non-disclosure agreement she signed in 2016 that she said was intended to silence her about a sexual encounter she had with Trump a decade earlier. Cohen has said that he paid $130,000 to Daniels out of his own pocket just before the presidential election and that he wasn’t reimbursed.
Cohen and Trump had argued that they couldn’t provide an adequate defense to Daniels’s allegation that a 2016 "hush agreement" wasn’t enforceable without Cohen’s testimony. The U.S. attorney is investigating Cohen’s business dealings, including the $130,000 payment.
"This is no simple criminal investigation; it is an investigation into the personal attorney of a sitting president regarding documents that might be subject to the attorney-client privilege," the judge said. "Whether or not an indictment is forthcoming, and the court thinks it likely based on these facts alone, these unique circumstances counsel in favor of stay."
The case is Clifford v. Trump, 18-cv-02217, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
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