Wednesday 24 October 2018

Porn star seeks Donald Trump’s answers under oath

Stormy Daniels’ lawyer is seeking sworn evidence from Mr Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Stormy Daniels says she had sex with Donald Trump (Matt Sayles/AP)
Stormy Daniels says she had sex with Donald Trump (Matt Sayles/AP)

By Catherine Lucey, Associated Press

Porn actress Stormy Daniels wants US President Donald Trump to answer her lawyer’s questions under oath about a pre-election payment aimed at keeping her quiet about their alleged tryst.

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

Ms Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, is seeking sworn evidence from Mr Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, about a 130,000 US dollar payment made to Ms Daniels days before the 2016 presidential election as part of a non-disclosure agreement she is seeking to invalidate.

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Michael Cohen has said he paid the 130,000 dollars out of his own pocket (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Mr Avenatti filed the motion in US District Court in California on Wednesday.

Mr Trump has kept a low profile all week, as has first lady Melania Trump, who is spending the week in Florida.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr Trump had denied the allegations and directed further questions to outside counsel. Mr Cohen’s lawyer, David Schwartz, told US broadcaster CBS that the filing was a “reckless use of the legal system”.

The persistent focus on Ms Daniels is a troubling distraction for a White House already struggling with an exodus of top staffers, a floundering agenda and the looming threat from the Russia investigation.

Mr Avenatti is just one on a growing list of lawyers looking to question Mr Trump. Lawyers for a former Apprentice contestant have said they want to depose the president as part of a defamation suit. And the president’s legal team continues to negotiate with special counsel Robert Mueller over the scope and terms of an interview with the president.

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Michael Avenatti wants to question Mr Trump and Mr Cohen (Joe Frederick/AP)

A hard-charging lawyer maintaining a near-constant presence on television news, Mr Avenatti wants to question Mr Trump and Mr Cohen for “no more than two hours”.

In the filing, he says the depositions are needed to establish if Mr Trump knew about the payment, which Mr Avenatti refers to as a “hush agreement”, and if the future president consented to it.

“We’re looking for sworn answers from the president and Mr Cohen about what they knew, when they knew it and what they did about it,” Mr Avenatti told The Associated Press.

While he noted that “in every case you always have to be open to settlement”, Mr Avenatti said that “at this point we don’t see how this case would possibly be settled”.

Press Association

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