Judge rejects gag order request in Stormy Daniels’ case

July 31, 2018

Michael Avenatti, the attorney for porn actress Stormy Daniels replies to questions by reporters during a news conference in front of the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Los Angeles on Friday, July 27,2018. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal judge rejected a request for a gag order on Tuesday that would’ve prohibited porn actress Stormy Daniels’s lawyer from discussing her lawsuit against President Donald Trump with reporters and the public.

U.S. District Judge S. James Otero’s order came after an attorney for Michael Cohen, Trump’s former longtime personal lawyer, alleged that Daniels’ lawyer had been running a “smear campaign” against the president.

Cohen’s attorney, Brent Blakely, argued Michael Avenatti’s frequent television appearances and near-daily tweets about Trump and Cohen could taint future jurors.

The judge said last week he had some concerns about statements that Avenatti has made about Cohen, but the standard for a gag order was high and it didn’t seem as though Cohen had met that burden.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said she had sex with Trump in 2006, when he was married, a claim he denies. Days before the 2016 presidential election, she was paid $130,000 for her silence in a deal handled by Cohen. She’s suing to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement.

Otero also agreed to continue delaying the case for another 45 days because of a federal investigation into Cohen’s business practices in New York.

Cohen argued that the criminal investigation overlapped with issues in the lawsuit and his right against self-incrimination would be adversely affected because he won’t be able to respond and defend himself.

For more than a decade, Cohen was Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, and he has long been a key power player in the Trump Organization and a fixture in Trump’s political life. But last month, Trump said he hadn’t spoken with Cohen “in a long time” and that Cohen is “not my lawyer anymore.”

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