LOS ANGELES (AP) — President Donald Trump’s lawyer is asking a federal judge in Los Angeles to delay a court case brought by a porn actress who claims she had an affair with the president.
U.S. District Judge James Otero is set to hear arguments Friday morning about whether to delay Stormy Daniels’ case after FBI agents raided the office and residence of Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, seeking records about a nondisclosure agreement Daniels signed days before the 2016 presidential election.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has been seeking to invalidate the agreement and has offered to return the $130,000 she was paid in order to publicly discuss the relationship and “set the record straight.” She argues the agreement is legally invalid because it was only signed by Daniels and Cohen, but was not signed by Trump.
Cohen, who has denied there was ever an affair, said he paid the $130,000 out of his pocket using a home equity loan. He has said neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Daniels and he was not reimbursed for the payment.
Trump answered questions about Daniels for the first time earlier this month and said he had no knowledge of the payment made by Cohen and didn’t know where Cohen had gotten the money. The White House has repeatedly said Trump denies the affair.
Cohen’s attorneys have accused Daniels of violating the agreement’s confidentiality clauses more than 20 times and said she could be liable for $1 million in damages for each violation.
The case took on new significance last week when FBI agents raided Cohen’s office, hotel and residence.
The agents were seeking any information on payments made to Daniels and a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, according to people familiar with the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly. The search warrants also sought bank records, records on Cohen’s dealings in the taxi industry and his communications with the Trump campaign, the people said.
After the raids, Cohen asked a judge in Los Angeles to grant a stay for at least 90 days and argued that because the allegations in the lawsuit overlap with the criminal investigation, Cohen’s civil rights “may be adversely affected if this case proceeds.”
Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, has objected to the delay and pressed for the case to continue immediately.
In a tweet on Thursday, Avenatti said he would “vehemently argue against the attempt by Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump to delay this case.”
“The American people deserve the truth as quickly as possible,” he said.
By MICHAEL BALSAMO
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