Stormy Daniels is asking a federal judge in California to revive her high-profile lawsuit so she can put President Trump under oath.
Last month, Judge S. James Otero put a temporary stop on Daniels’ case against Trump and his embattled attorney, Michael Cohen. Cohen, who vowed to plead the Fifth in the suit, had requested a stay because of the FBI raid on his residence and office, and the federal probe into his business dealings in New York.
But in court papers filed Thursday, Daniels is asking Otero to reconsider and modify the 90-day stay. The porn actress says her case against Trump can go on without Cohen, as “new facts” have come to light following the court’s order. Those revelations arise from Trump’s comments in a bizarre, long-winded interview on Fox & Friends and his attorney Rudy Giuliani’s statements to Sean Hannity.
Now Daniels wants to depose both Trump and his mouthpiece.
“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,” Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told The Daily Beast.
“We would likely depose Giuliani, we would likely depose Trump,” Avenatti continued. “We have a whole host of people we want to depose.” Other potential witnesses could include Cohen’s wife, his personal assistant, and individuals associated with First Republic Bank, which Cohen used to pay Daniels.
“Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump have once again shot themselves in the foot by making these public statements,” Avenatti added.
Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford, filed a lawsuit to invalidate the “hush agreement” she inked with Cohen and Trump weeks before the 2016 election. Cohen, through his company Essential Consultants LLC, paid Daniels $130,000 in return for her silence on her alleged romp with Trump at a Lake Tahoe golf tournament in 2006. Daniels says her nondisclosure agreement is void, in part, because Trump never signed the dotted line.
Trump, who denied an affair with Daniels, had also claimed he didn’t know about Cohen’s payout to the actress. Weeks later, however, the reality TV star-turned-president spoke up about the Daniels deal in an April 26 Fox & Friends phone rant.
Asked about Cohen’s criminal probe, Trump said, “They’re looking [in]to something having to do with his business,” rather than his role in paying Daniels. Trump said Cohen was pleading the Fifth because “he’s got other things—he’s got businesses,” and that campaign money wasn’t used for Daniels’ hush money.
Meanwhile, on May 2, Giuliani went on Fox News’ Hannity to say the Daniels payoff was “perfectly legal” and “not campaign money.”
“That money was not campaign money. Sorry, I’m giving you a fact now that you don’t know. It’s not campaign money. No campaign finance violation,” Giuliani told host Sean Hannity, who was also revealed to be a client of Cohen’s.
When Hannity asked if Cohen’s payment to the porn star was funneled through a law firm, Giuliani replied, “Funneled it through the law firm, and the president repaid it.” Trump knew “about the general arrangement” Cohen made with Daniels but “didn’t know about the specifics of it,” Giuliani added.
“That was money that was paid by his lawyer, the way I would do out of his law firm funds or whatever funds, it doesn’t matter,” Giuliani told Hannity. “The president reimbursed that over the period of several months.”
In court papers, Team Stormy says these statements “cast doubt on whether Mr. Cohen’s Fifth Amendment rights are truly implicated by continuing with this proceeding.”
“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 his motion filed Thursday.
“They both assert that no crime was committed,” the filing alleges. “And Mr. Trump states, with great certainty, that Mr. Cohen is being is being investigated ‘for something having to do with his business,’ not with any matters at issue in this lawsuit.”
Trump can defend the case without Cohen’s testimony, Avenatti argued in court papers.
“Mr. Trump’s newfound voice on facts concerning this lawsuit demonstrates he will be able to testify in his defense,” the filing continues. “He will also have Mr. Giuliani available to testify for him in this case.”
A hearing on Daniels’ request is scheduled for June 21 in Los Angeles.