Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels, announced he would file a motion on Thursday asking a Los Angeles federal judge to let his client's case against President Donald Trump and embattled attorney Michael Cohen continue, despite a previous ruling that delayed the proceedings.
In the motion to reconsider the Judge's prior stay order, Avenatti argues that statements to the media made by Rudy Giuliani, a member of Trump's legal team, and Trump indicate that the opposing party is "fully equipped" to go to court.
"The new developments in the case make clear that less drastic measures than a complete stay of all proceedings are available," Avenatti argues. "Plaintiff has agreed to only pursue a deposition of Mr. Trump, who is reportedly not under criminal investigation for any of his dealings relating to the facts of this case."
He continued, "Among other things, Mr. Trump – along with his authorized agent Mr. Giuliani – for the first time have confirmed Mr. Trump’s personal involvement in the facts that gave rise to this lawsuit, including in the payment and the reasons the agreement were entered into."
Both Giuliani and Trump have spoken about the $130,000 hush money Cohen paid to Daniels in October 2016, weeks before the presidential election. Giuliani, perhaps inadvertently, dropped the bombshell on Hannity that Trump had paid Cohen back for the funds, while Trump told Fox and Friends that his embattled attorney "did absolutely nothing wrong."
Daniels is suing to void the contract she signed in exchange for the money. If the contract isn't voided, she could face severe financial penalties for speaking openly about an alleged affair she had with Trump in the mid-aughts.
In late April, Cohen successfully petitioned the judge to impose a 90-day stay on the proceedings on grounds that it interfered with a separate criminal investigation against him filed by Manhattan federal prosecutors. In that case, Cohen has pleaded the Fifth, meaning testifying in the Daniels' case could jeopardize his right against self-incrimination in the criminal probe.
In an effort to get the case to move forward, Avenatti has said in court documents that he will only seek to depose Trump during the 90-day hold.
"It is now clear that Mr. Cohen’s invocation of the 5th Amend has no bearing on our ability to depose Mr. Trump," he tweeted.
The hearing on the motion will be held on June 21.
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