Judge: Trump lawyer must make sworn statement to slow lawsuit


Associated Press

LOS ANGELES

President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer must declare in writing that his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination may be jeopardized if legal proceedings aren’t delayed in a lawsuit filed by porn actress Stormy Daniels, a judge said Friday.

Los Angeles federal Judge S. James Otero said there were “gaping holes” in Michael Cohen’s request for a delay, and it was not enough for his attorney to file a statement on his behalf. He gave Cohen until Wednesday to do so himself.

Daniels’ lawsuit is aimed at dissolving a confidentiality agreement that prevents her from talking about an alleged affair with Trump. She’s also suing Cohen for defamation.

Cohen sought to delay the civil case 90 days after FBI agents raided his New York office and residence, seeking records about the $130,000 agreement that Daniels signed days before the 2016 presidential election.

Otero, speaking from his experience on the bench and without knowledge of the investigation, said it was “substantially likely” there would be some criminal action.

Cohen’s lawyer argued that because the criminal investigation overlaps issues in the lawsuit, Cohen’s right against self-incrimination “may be adversely impacted if this case proceeds” because he won’t be able to respond and defend himself.

Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, said it was a “strategic and purposeful” decision by Cohen not to previously file a declaration. Outside court, Avenatti said it was “clear to me Michael Cohen and the president do not want to publicly state” Cohen intends to invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has offered to return the $130,000 so she can “set the record straight.” She argues the agreement is legally invalid because it was only signed by her and Cohen, not by Trump.

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