We learned Friday that Michael Cohen and Donald Trump are no longer interested in enforcing the Stormy Daniels non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti has responded with some fire and fury Monday, claiming the move “reflects a profoundly troubling reality.”
Before we get to what Avenatti had to say — and he said quite a bit — let’s review what Cohen’s attorney Brent Blakely said Friday about the NDA and Daniels’ duty to return the $130,000 she was paid to stay silent about an affair with the president.
“Today, Essential Consultants LLC and Michael Cohen have effectively put an end to the lawsuits filed against them by Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels,” he declared. “The rescission of the Confidential Settlement Agreement will result in Ms. Clifford returning to Essential Consultants the $130,000 she received in consideration, as required by California law.”
On Monday, Avenatti filed a motion expressing his opposition to the dismissal of the case against Trump and Cohen in California. It’s a case that’s never been able to get off the ground due to Cohen’s federal legal troubles in the Southern District of New York. Avenatti has argued that the case should move forward now that Cohen has pleaded guilty to multiple federal crimes.
“[N]ow that Mr. Cohen has admitted to his crimes under oath before the district judge in the Southern District of New York, there is no substantive justification for putting this case on hold,” he said. “A myriad of litigation activities may occur in this case that would not disturb what remains of Mr. Cohen’s Fifth Amendment rights.”
Well, Cohen and Trump have countered by trying to make the case go away. Avenatti is, of course, trying to prevent that.
Avenatti said the defendants have a “sudden desire to escape having to defend this action” and have exposed a “profoundly troubling reality” in doing so.
“Defendants have been shamelessly deceiving this Court and the American public for more than six months,” he said. “Plaintiff does not make this claim lightly; it is based on the following undisputed facts. Beginning in February of 2018, Michael Cohen and Mr. Trump, along with their attorneys and surrogates, instituted a coordinated campaign to intimidate and bully Ms. Clifford into silence.”
Avenatti said that the arbitration action filed by Cohen and a Trump Organization lawyer has now been revealed to be “bogus and completely lacking any factual or good faith basis.”
He added that the when he argued the NDA was not valid, the defendants were “so confident” that it was that they compelled arbitration and boasted that they could extract millions of dollars from Daniels.
Remember Cohen attorney David Schwartz, who went on TV and made things worse for his client? Avenatti mentioned that Schwartz said the NDA was valid “multiple times” and that Daniels would pay for violating it.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was also dinged for hurling “deplorable and sexist insults” at Daniels — “I’m sorry I don’t respect a porn star the way I respect a career woman or a woman of substance or a woman who has great respect for herself as a woman and as a person and isn’t going to sell her body for sexual exploitation.”
Avenatti said that all of these threats and comments, in light of the attempt to tear up the NDA, were “all premised on a giant lie.”
He then tied this to Cohen’s guilty plea, which included the admission that he committed campaign finance violations at the “direction” of Trump.
He said this makes it clear that both defendants knew about the NDA agreement, that the payment for Daniels’ silence was made in the context of the campaign, that “Mr. Cohen is a criminal,” that “Mr. Trump is a co-conspirator” and that they’ve been giving the U.S. District of Court for the Central District of California the runaround for half a year.
“[They led] this Court to believe for six months that they had a good faith basis to assert that the Settlement Agreement was a valid contract, that it was not illegal, and that it had nothing to do with Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign,” he concluded. “The Court cannot simply allow Defendants to exit the case without facing any true consequences or a meaningful inquiry into the truth. The public interest in continuing with this case is self-evident.”
[Image via Ethan Miller/Getty Images]