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- Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels is trying to revive her California civil suit against President Donald Trump and his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen.
- Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, argued in a Thursday filing that Trump’s comments, in addition to those of his attorney Rudy Giuliani, brought to light circumstances that were not in play when the judge issued a 90-day stay in the case last month.
- In an interview with Business Insider, Giuliani said Avenatti’s motion made “no sense.”
- Avenatti told Business Insider in an email that Giuliani is “clueless.”
Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels is seeking to revive her civil suit against President Donald Trump and his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, filing a motion with a federal judge in California on Thursday.
The filing claims the president and his outside attorney, Rudy Giuliani, have made public comments that allow her case against Trump to proceed without Cohen.
Last month, US District Judge S. James Otero put a 90-day stay on Daniels’ case against Trump and Cohen, who vowed to plead the Fifth Amendment. Cohen requested a stay because of his other legal troubles, which centered on the FBI raids of his home, office, and hotel. Cohen is currently under criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York for possible campaign-finance violations and bank fraud. He has not been charged.
In court papers filed by Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, the actress is asking Otero to modify the 90-day stay in the case because she argues that Trump and Giuliani have introduced “new facts” in the case.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, cited Giuliani’s comments to Fox News about the $130,000 payment Cohen made to her in exchange for silence about allegations she had a 2006 affair with Trump. Daniels also cited Trump’s comments to “Fox and Friends” about the Cohen investigation in general.
“There’s no limitation as to who we’re going to seek discovery from with the only exception being that we’re not going to seek to depose Cohen during the stay period,” Avenatti told The Daily Beast. “We would likely depose Giuliani, we would likely depose Trump. We have a whole host of people we want to depose.”
In a brief phone interview with Business Insider on Thursday, Giuliani said Avenatti’s filing made “no sense” and insisted that he could not be deposed in the case because he’s “a lawyer.”
“My attorney-client privilege prohibits me from answering, and we’ll resist him from trying to subpoena the president,” the former New York city mayor and US attorney said. “I don’t think he can.”
Giuliani also responded to the claim that his comments, in addition to the president’s, made Cohen’s invocation of the Fifth Amendment have no bearing on whether Trump can be deposed.
“We can’t affect Cohen’s Fifth Amendment privilege any more than they can affect attorney-client privilege,” he said.
“I think they’re shooting all around the place for something to land,” Giuliani said of Avenatti’s and Daniels’s strategy. “And so far it hasn’t.”
Asked about Giuliani’s comments, Avenatti told Business Insider in an email that Giuliani “is clueless.”
“Next time, maybe he should review the motion and the law before speaking,” he said.
Daniels’s lawsuit seeks to invalidate that hush money agreement, for which the president now admits reimbursing Cohen after Cohen initially said he was not reimbursed. Daniels argues that the agreement is void because Trump never signed it.
“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” Avenatti states in the Thursday filing.
A hearing is scheduled on the motion for June 21 in Los Angeles.
Attorney and blogger Ken White argued in a blog post that, while well-argued, the motion is not likely to lead to the action Daniels and Avenatti seek.
“Avenatti’s motion is likely more performative than legal, more public relations strategy than sincere legal tactic,” he wrote, adding, “I think it is likely (never certain!) that Judge Otero will deny it, possibly without a hearing.”