Prosecutors Urge Delay Letting Stormy Daniels in Cohen Case
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. prosecutors asked the judge overseeing review of evidence seized from Michael Cohen in an FBI raid last month to hold off ruling on whether Stormy Daniels can join the case.
Daniels, the adult film star whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is seeking to intervene in court to protect any of her attorney-client communications that might have been in Cohen’s possession at the time of the April 9 raid. Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, has been outspoken in his criticism of Cohen and his former boss, President Donald Trump, on cable news and on Twitter in recent weeks.
Prosecutors said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood Monday that they had conferred with Avenatti, who consented to the U.S.’s request to delay ruling on the motion to intervene. Lawyers are currently reviewing the material seized from Cohen, which includes eight boxes of paper documents, computers and cell phones. They promised to update her by June 1.
The move comes amid a nasty fight in which lawyers for Cohen are opposing Avenatti’s request to act as Daniels’s lawyer in the case. They claim Wood shouldn’t allow Avenatti, a California lawyer, to appear in her Manhattan court because he publicly disclosed confidential banking information of Cohen’s. Avenatti needs Wood’s permission -- normally a formality -- because he’s not licensed to practice in New York.
“Mr. Avenatti appears to be primarily focused on smearing Mr. Cohen publicly in his efforts to further his own interest in garnering as much media attention as possible,” Cohen’s lawyers said in a court filing on Friday.
“Why are they so desperate to avoid having me in the case?” Avenatti responded.
Daniels claims she had sex with Trump in 2006. She was previously represented by Beverly Hills lawyer Keith Davidson, who negotiated a $130,000 hush agreement with Cohen in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election. Davidson said last month he provided "certain limited electronic information" to New York prosecutors, who are reviewing the transaction as part of a criminal probe of Cohen’s business and financial dealings. Davidson said he’s cooperating with the investigation.
Avenatti is seeking to protect any communications between Daniels and Davidson that may have been passed on to Cohen. If none of the materials seized in the raid concern Daniels, there’s no need for her to be a part of the case. Judge Wood has allowed President Trump to intervene in the case, because he was Cohen’s client.
Wood has appointed a retired federal judge to help resolve disputes among the parties over privilege questions. The lawyers are due back in court on Thursday.
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