A federal judge in Los Angeles declined to rule immediately Friday on a bid by lawyers for President Trump and his embattled lawyer, Michael Cohen, to delay a lawsuit filed by adult film star Stormy Daniels over her alleged sexual tryst with Trump in 2006.
U.S. District Court Judge James Otero, who stated earlier that a hearing on the question of a stay "is warranted," said Cohen needs to file a statement declaring that his Fifth Amendment rights might be jeopardized if the case goes forward.
The judge said it is not enough for Cohen’s attorney to file that statement on his behalf.
Daniels is seeking to invalidate a "hush money" agreement for which she was paid $130,000 by Cohen just prior to the 2016 presidential election.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and her hard-charging lawyer, Michael Avenatti, claim the deal is non-binding because Trump never signed it. They are also pressing to hold the arbitration hearing over the dispute in public.
Lawyers for Trump and Cohen requested a 90-day delay in the suit because of the criminal investigation federal prosecutors in New York are pursuing into the attorney's involvement in several business matters, reportedly including the payout to Daniels.
FBI agents wielding search warrants last week raided Cohen's New York apartment, office and his hotel room to collect papers and electronic records. Attorneys for Cohen and Trump say the raids intruded on attorney-client privilege.
Avenatti has objected to the effort to postpone the case.
Avenatti, writing on Twitter,“ dismissed the call for a delay, saying, "The American people deserve the truth as quickly as possible.”
Trump answered questions about Daniels for the first time earlier this month and said he had no knowledge of the payment made by Cohen and didn’t know where Cohen had gotten the money. The White House has repeatedly said Trump denies the affair.
Cohen’s attorneys have accused Daniels of violating the agreement’s confidentiality clauses more than 20 times and said she could be liable for $1 million in damages for each violation.
In a rare public reference to the porn actress, Trump said on Twitter this week that Daniels is pulling “a total con job” by releasing an artist’s sketch of a man she said threatened her to keep silent about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump.
“A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!” Trump wrote.
Avenatti, who has offered a $131,000 dollar reward for information leading to the identity of the man, has moved to add a defamation allegation against Cohen for accusing Daniels of lying about the alleged affair and the purported threat.