Stormy seeks Trump answers

Daniels’ lawyer is seek­ing to de­pose both Pres­i­dent Trump and his per­sonal at­tor­ney, Michael Co­hen, about a $130,000 pay­off.

The Standard Journal - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Cather­ine Lucey and Mike Bal­samo

WASH­ING­TON — A porn ac­tress who says she had an af­fair with Don­ald Trump renewed an ef­fort Sun­day to get the pres­i­dent to an­swer her at­tor­ney’s ques­tions un­der oath.

An at­tor­ney for Stormy Daniels filed the mo­tion in fed­eral court in Los An­ge­les. Michael Ave­natti is seek­ing a jury trial and wants sworn tes­ti­mony from Trump and his per­sonal lawyer, Michael Co­hen about a $130,000 pay­ment made to Daniels days be­fore the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion as part of a nondis­clo­sure agree­ment she is seek­ing to in­val­i­date.

Trump an­swered ques­tions about Daniels for the first time past weeks, say­ing he had no knowledge of the pay­ment made by Co­hen and ad­ding that he didn’t know where Co­hen had got­ten the money.

The White House has con­sis­tently said Trump de­nies the af­fair and Co­hen has held that he made the pay­ment out of his own pocket, with­out in­volve­ment from the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion or the Trump cam­paign. Co­hen did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest seek­ing com­ment.

Ave­natti filed a sim­i­lar mo­tion over a week ago, which a judge deemed pre­ma­ture. He re­filed af­ter Trump asked a fed­eral judge to or­der pri­vate ar­bi­tra­tion in the case. Trump and Co­hen filed pa­pers in past weeks ask­ing a judge to rule that the case must be heard by an ar­bi­tra­tor in­stead of a jury. Ave­natti op­poses pri­vate ar­bi­tra­tion.

In the fil­ing, Ave­natti says he wants to ques­tion Trump and Co­hen for “no more than two hours.”

He says the de­po­si­tions are needed to es­tab­lish if Trump knew about the set­tle­ment agree­ment and if he “truly did not know about the $130,000 pay­ment.” He also asks if Trump was in­volved in any ef­fort to “si­lence” Daniels.

Daniels, whose le­gal name is Stephanie Clif­ford, said in a re­cent in­ter­view with CBS’ “60 Min­utes” that she was threat­ened by an uniden­ti­fied man to keep quiet about the af­fair. Ave­natti tweeted a photo Sun­day that he said showed Daniels sit­ting with a foren­sic sketch artist to de­velop an im­age of the per­son she says threat­ened her in a Las Ve­gas park­ing lot in 2011 when she was with her in­fant daugh­ter.

That in­ter­view prompted a lawyer for Co­hen to de­mand that Daniels pub­licly apol­o­gize to his client for sug­gest­ing Co­hen was in­volved in her in­tim­i­da­tion. Daniels re­sponded by fil­ing a re­vised fed­eral law­suit ac­cus­ing Co­hen of defama­tion.

Ave­natti did not say Sun­day when the pho­to­graph had been taken, or when a sketch may be re­leased.

If this le­gal move is suc­cess­ful, this would be the first de­po­si­tion of a sit­ting pres­i­dent since Bill Clin­ton in 1998 had to an­swer ques­tions about his con­duct with women.

File, Bill Haber / AP

An at­tor­ney for ac­tress Stormy Daniels is ask­ing the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion to pre­serve records re­lat­ing to the $130,000 she was paid as part of a nondis­clo­sure agree­ment.

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