President pushes for private deal
US President Donald Trump's personal lawyer asked a federal judge yesterday to force adult film star Stormy Daniels to use arbitration to settle a dispute over an agreement to keep quiet about a sexual encounter she says she had with Mr Trump.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, last month sued Michael Cohen, Mr Trump's personal attorney, to be released from the non-disclosure agreement she signed in October 2016 in exchange for $130,000 (€106,000).
The White House has denied that Mr Trump had sex with Ms Clifford. Mr Cohen has said he paid her out of his own pocket.
In the court filing in Los Angeles, Brent Blakely, Mr Cohen's attorney, argued the agreement included a provision that any disputes over it be settled through arbitration, as opposed to open court.
Federal law "dictates that this motion be granted, and that Ms Clifford be compelled to arbitration, as she knowingly and voluntarily agreed to do," Mr Blakely wrote. Ms Clifford attorney, Michael Avenatti, said the matter should be settled in open court.
Mr Avenatti has argued that the non-disclosure agreement is invalid because Mr Trump never signed it. But in yesterday's filing Mr Blakely responded that the language of the agreement did not specify that Mr Trump, using the pseudonym David Dennison, needed to sign it for the agreement to be binding.
Mr Blakely also argued that Ms Clifford accepted the $130,000 and did not dispute the agreement for 16 months even though Mr Trump had not signed it.
Ms Clifford has said she and Mr Trump had sex once in 2006 but that they kept in touch for a period of time.